Moroccan clinches second successive world 3000m steeplechase title as Ethiopian has to settle for a fourth major championships silver

The story of the men’s 3000m steeplechase at major championships is becoming a very familiar one, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting to watch.

We’ve seen this movie before. The two main protagonists – Soufiane El Bakkali and Lamecha Girma slug it out like a pair of prize fighters…before the Moroccan delivers the knockout blow.

That is precisely how the event played out at the World Championships in Budapest on Tuesday night (August 22), though this was the most thrilling chapter yet.

Girma must be sick of playing second fiddle. The Ethiopian, who broke the world indoor 3000m earlier this year before doing likewise in the 3000m steeplechase had finished second to his nemesis at the Tokyo Olympics and last year’s edition of the World Championships in Oregon but he had never been in a better position to buck that trend.

As expected, it came down to a battle royal between the pair as they hit the bell, and it was Girma who had put himself out in front. He led by the narrowest of margins, though, and as he has shown so many times, El Bakkali possesses a searing finishing kick. There was a sense he was biding his time.

It was at the final water jump where he delivered the killer punch, moving past his opponent and easing away to win in a time of 8:03.53. A drained Girma crossed the line in 8:05.44, his fourth successive silver medal at a major championships.

The fight for bronze was played out between two Kenyans. Abraham Kibiwot fell going over a barrier during the final circuit but picked himself up to beat Leonard Kipkemboi Bett to the line in 8:11.98, the latter running 8:12.26.

“I am really proud to bring home another gold,” said El Bakkali, having run the final 1000m in 2:29.12. “I had great preparations for these championships but the field was very strong. I came ready and prepared and believed I could win. This medal gives me additional motivation for the Olympic Games in Paris. I want to win there, too.”

So, too, does Girma.

“That is my fourth global silver medal but I am satisfied by every single race against El Bakkali,” said the 22-year-old, who was beaten to the 2019 world title by Conselsus Kipruto.

“I still aim to win gold at the World Championships or Olympic Games. Nothing has changed in my goals. Maybe, I am even more motivated for next year.”

Meanwhile, in the heats of the men’s 800m, the out of form defending champion Emmanuel Korir failed to go through, only coming fifth in his heat in 1:46.78. His fellow Kenyan, world u20 champion Emmanuel Manyonyi, was fastest overall with a time of 1:44.92 while 2022 bronze medallist Marco Arop looked in fine from as he won his heat in 1:45.05.

The British trio of Max Burgin (1:45.43), Dan Rowden (1:45.67) and Ben Pattison (1:46.57) all progressed to the semi-finals, too.

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