The morning was capped off by the final of the men’s steeplechase, an event that has historically been dominated by Kenyans. A Kenyan sweep certainly seemed like a possibility here with world leader Conseslus Kipruto joined by the likes of Ezekiel Kemboi and Brimin Kipruto.
But, after a disappointing finish last year’s world championship final where seemingly the entire nation of Kenya sprinted by him in the final 200m, Evan Jager had different plans for this time around.
He took the lead with four laps to go, which opened up a bit of a gap between the top three in the race—himself, C. Kipruto, and Kemboi—and the rest of the field. In effect, that move eliminated the possibility of a non-medal finish for the second consecutive championship.
Over the final lap, Conseslus Kipruto opened up on Kemboi and Jager, who were both left to battle for bronze. On the final straight, after it appeared that Kemboi would hold off Jager, the Kenyan fell apart and Jager was able to take advantage.
Evan Jager has taken USA's first Olympic medal in the men's steeplechase since Brian Diemer won bronze in 1984. #USA— Athletics Weekly (@AthleticsWeekly) August 17, 2016
Kipruto’s win marks the 9th consecutive Olympic steeple win for Kenya and his 8:03.28 time was a new Olympic Record in the event. Jager’s second-place time of 8:04.28 was also under the previous Olympic Record.
Women’s 800m Heats:
No real surprises here. Two Americans—Kate Grace and Ajee Wilson—advanced, with Wilson running a season best in the process. The three favorites—Niyonsaba, Semenya, and Wambui—all looked strong in advancing to the finals.
The only other real performance of note for a possible medal shake-up came from Canada’s Melissa Bishop who ran the fastest time of the heats in 1:58.38 while looking reasonably relaxed. If one of the three favorites falters at all, look for Bishop to take advantage.
No Kenyans advanced to the final of the 5000m as Caleb Ndiku and Isiah Koech both missed out on time qualifiers by a couple places.
Among those who advanced were two Americans in Bernard Lagat and Hillary Bor. Hassan Mead took a spill with around 200m to go and finished outside of the time qualifiers. So far on the track, athletes in Mead’s situation have been advanced on protests. We’ll see how he fares. Competing as a Peruvian, David Torrence set a national record of 13:23.20 to advance to the final.
Mo Farah was involved in that tripping of Mead, but he remained on his feet and advanced to the final.
While the Kenyans were shut out of the final, all three Ethiopians advanced. Muktar Edris, Hagos Gebrhiwet, and Dejen Gebremeskel all have solid chances at a medal in the event.
Men’s Hammer Qualification
Polish Hammer Thrower Pawel Fajdek failed to advance to the final as his throw of 72.00m finished in 17th in qualification. Entering competition, Fajdek was the overwhelming favorite to win gold with the ten best throws in the event this season. No other athlete had thrown within a meter of his best, but Wednesday morning, Fajdek couldn’t throw within 10 meters of his own best and will go home.