Arab region strikes it rich at world athletics championships

Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali won the 3,000 metres steeplechase gold while Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar clinched the high jump title


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Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco celebrates after winning gold in the men's 3000m steeplechase. (AFP)
Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco celebrates after winning gold in the men's 3000m steeplechase. (AFP)

Published: Tue 19 Jul 2022, 2:59 PM

Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali ended Kenya’s reign in the 3,000 metres steeplechase at the World Championships after he surged past Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia to win gold on Monday.

The Olympic champion had stayed near the back of the leading pack for much of the race before making the decisive move in the last 200m at Hayward Field.

Girma had to settle for silver once again after finishing second in Tokyo and in Doha three years ago, while Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto, the 2019 champion, finished with bronze.

It was the first time since 2005 that a Kenyan did not finish top of the podium and El Bakkali said his finishing speed had been the key to victory in Eugene, Oregon.

“The course was very tactical, slow. We had very good runners like defending champion Kipruto,” said El Bakkali, who beamed as he waved the Moroccan flag over his head.

“I positioned well in the last lap. I am very strong in the 400m and it worked out for me.”

There was more gold for the Arab world in the shape of Mutaz Essa Barshim. The Qatari athlete won a thriller of a high jump competition for his third world title.

“Winning for the third time has never been done before,” he said. “For me that’s a great stat.

“I always say to myself, ‘How do you want to be remembered?’ I want to do great things, I want to be the high jumper that does stuff that sticks in history.

“I’ve done that today so I’m really happy about it.”

Experience counts

Untouchable Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas led a raft of familiar faces to glory when she claimed her third straight triple jump title at the World Athletics Championships on Monday.

Day four of action at Hayward Field in Oregon saw experience count as multiple gold medallists from the Tokyo Olympics followed up on their efforts in the Japanese capital with more podium-topping.

“This is my third consecutive world (outdoor) title, it still hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Rojas, who had been hoping to better her world record but was frustrated by wind affecting her run-up.

“I wanted a longer jump, but I am happy to return to this beautiful stadium, to see the crowd,” Rojas added.

Rojas was among three female two-time Olympic champions to strike gold in Eugene.

Belgium’s Nafi Thiam earlier claimed a last-gasp victory in the heptathlon over Dutch rival Anouk Vetter, while imperious Faith Kipyegon of Kenya won her second 1500m title.

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