BEIJING (Reuters) - Hyvin Jepkemoi maintained Kenya's monopoly of the 3,000 meters steeplechase when she proved to be tougher than all her rivals in a hard-fought final lap to win the world title on Wednesday.
Jepkemoi, 23, produced a sub-66 seconds last 400 and had to battle off the final barrier against the favorite, Tunisia’s Habiba Ghribi, and Germany’s Gesa Krause, to take Kenya’s sixth gold of the Beijing championships in 9 minutes 19.11 seconds.
Ghribi, the runner-up at the 2012 London Olympics and 2011 world championships, had to settle for silver once more as the Kenyan passed on her outside. Grhibi clocked 9:19.24, to Krause’s bronze-winning 9:19.25, a personal best.
The first half of the race was slow, with only a front-running effort by Lalita Babar of India picking up the pace towards the final km.
Into the final 600, American Emma Coburn made a bid for glory but, as the bell for the final lap rang, Ghribi took up the running towards a title which many had thought was a foregone conclusion.
However, as the Tunisian took the final water barrier in conventional style, with one foot on the barrier, Jepkemoi hurdled the obstacle and forced herself past her rival.
As Coburn faded over the final half-lap, eventually placing fifth, the three medalists came off the final fence in line but it was Jepkemoi, sixth in the world final in Moscow two years ago, who was the strongest finisher this time.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Ken Ferris)