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2003 World Championships in Athletics Paris, France

2003 9th IAAF World Championships - Paris - Men's 3000m Steeplechase



Host City: Saint-Denis, Paris, France Format: First round (First 4 & 3 fastest to final) (Aug 23)
Dates: 23 August – 31 August  
Nations participating: 198  
Athletes participating: 1679  
    Main venue: Stade de France
Overview by IAAF   Paris Saint Denis stadium 
This event was given a fascinating twist when it was confirmed in early August that Kenya’s Commonwealth Games Champion and 7:58.10 performer Stephen Cherono had become a Qatari citizen, largely to avoid the restrictions of the Kenyan selection system. He would be known as Saif Saaeed Shaheen. This meant that there would be five Kenyans in the field for Paris: Shaheen, defending champion Reuben Kosgei and the first three in the Kenyan trials: Ezekiel Kemboi, Abraham Cherono (Shaheen’s younger brother) and Mike Kipyego. Unfortunately, Kipyego fell in the heats and Kosgei failed to finish in the final, which developed into a duel between Shaheen and Kemboi. On August 15 in Zürich, the Qatari had beaten the Kenyan by one hundredth. The Paris race was dramatic and absorbing. First, Saifeldin and Shaheen sped away to a sub-60 second first lap. Shaheen maintained the quick tempo to reach 1000m in 2:36.24, more than three seconds inside actual world record pace. He soon had a lead of around 30m. Shaheen then slowed to 2:43.34 for the second kilometre and suddenly Kemboi closed in. The two Africans then slowed further, such that the two Spanish Martíns and – to the excitement of the crowd – Tahri had also caught up by the bell. The race then turned into a thrilling all-out sprint between the two principals. First Kemboi led down the backstraight, then Shaheen took over. They cleared the last barrier together and Kemboi moved ahead before Shaheen came again with one last sprint. The other Kenyan Cherono finished behind the three Europeans in fifth place. Another brother of his
 These are the official results of the Men's 3000 metres steeplechase event at the 2003 IAAF World Championships in Paris, France. There were a total number of 36 participating athletes, with three qualifying heats and the final held on Tuesday 2003-08-26 at 21:30h.


In Kenya, where the steeplechase is virtually the national sport and source of national pride, the top up and coming athletes in 2003 were Stephen Cherono and Ezekiel Kemboi. Along with Stephen's brother Abraham Cherono, they swept the 2002 Commonwealth Games Steeplechase for Kenya. In 2003, there was a huge change.

Qatar was near the beginning of their program to purchase mercenary athletes; young, promising athletes who would take Qatari citizenship and (unique to Qatar's program) take on a different name. Stephen, and some 40 other athletes, took the deal. Changing his name from Stephen Cherono to Saif Saaeed Shaheen, he was reported to have received up to US$1 million to become a Qatari citizen, although he denied this. This was the first major competition where, as Shaheen, he was wearing a different country's bib. This angered his former teammates who were determined to beat him.

Over the previous two decades, Kenyan athletes have learned how to use team tactics to essentially gang up on the rest of the world while assuring another Kenyan victory. Shaheen had learned these tactics. Now virtually alone, he had to figure out how to beat them. He chose to run away from them. Alone out front, no team could get in his way. He did have a teammate in the race, a veteran former Sudanese athlete who had been running for Qatar for several years, Khamis Abdullah Saifeldin. Beaten off the start line by three Kenyans, Saifeldin literally elbowed his way to the already forming Kenyan blockade at the front. Sidestepping into the next lane he sprinted past them followed by Shaheen who was with the lead Kenyans waiting for his arrival. Saifeldin was first over the first barrier with Shaheen in tow and a gap already forming. The only athlete to bridge the gap was Shaheen's brother, Abraham Cherono. The first lap was just over 60 seconds, 4 minute mile pace. 2:04 by the second lap (now slightly shorter laps through the water jump). 1000 metres into the race and Saifeldin was exhausted and started to drop back. Shaheen accelerated around him. 3:06 for three laps. Soon Abraham started to fall back, Shaheen was alone. With the pack disappearing behind them, Shaheen was cranking out laps at sub-world record pace. By the fourth lap at 4:12 he had opened up a 20 metre lead, but on the fifth lap, he was beginning to show signs of fatigue.

His closest pursuer, Kemboi was rapidly began gaining on Shaheen. With a thousand metres to go, Kemboi was frustrated with his slow gains against Shaneen's huge lead and suddenly sprinted to both catch Shaheen then to keep on running past him, creating a 7 metre gap of his own. This time Shaheen did not go away, making back the gap to mark Kemboi. Two barriers later, Shaheen sprinted into the lead and Kemboi sprinted back to the front. With all the spurts and retreats, the lead pace had slowed while the peloton had steadily made up the lost ground. Led by Luis Miguel Martín and Eliseo Martín, the pack had moved back into contention, with the French home crowd excited that Bouabdellah Tahri was in the mix with a lap to go. But the two prizefighters at the front didn't notice, they were still throwing their best punches at each other.

At the bell, Kemboi again sprinted to open up a slight gap. After the fourth barrier, Shaheen sprinted past, opening up a gap over the third barrier and into the water jump. This move at the fourth barrier would later become Kemboi's trademark. Also, unlike later years, Kemboi took the water jump carefully by pushing off the barrier. Coming out of the pit, Kemboi positioned himself for one final sprint, passing Shaheen over the final barrier on the outside. With a slight gap, Kemboi looked to be sprinting to victory, but Shaheen surged again taking the lead thirty metres out. Defeated, the exhausted Kemboi jogged across the line and lay down on the track.

While bronze medalist Eliseo Martín, enthusiastically came to congratulate Shaheen, the Kenyans did not congratulate their former teammate, now traitor, on his victory. Even his own brother walked off the track in disgust.

Without Shaheen in the race, Kemboi would claim Olympic gold the following year. A couple of weeks later, Shahen would one up him again by setting what is still the current world record in the event. Shaheen would repeat as champion in 2005, again over Kemboi, but would then disappear from the scene. After three straight silver medals, Kemboi would finally take gold in 2009, beginning a legendary winning streak of four straight gold medals and seven straight gold or silver medals through 2015 and another Olympic gold in 2012. Each of those victories was marked with a celebration victory dance and the same sprint between the fourth and third remaining barriers that he learned from Shaheen in this race.

  3000m Steeplechase     26 August    

Event Report 3000m Steeplechase

Saif Saaeed SHAHEEN of Qatar won the most amazing 3000m Steeplechase Final on Tuesday evening, beating Kenya's Ezekiel KEMBOI to the line in a desperate sprint finish after a race that had almost everything: a pace maker, a fast start, a cat and mouse mid-section, a dramatic chase, and a neck and neck last lap ending with a breathtakingly close finish.

In winning, Shaheen, until recently known as Stephen Cherono of Kenya, denies his former home country its seventh successive World steeplechase title. The Kenyans have won every gold since 1987, in all cases all except Edmonton in 2001 claiming at least the first two medals. This time they managed 'only' second.

Shaheen's gold is also the first ever at a World Championships for Qatar, while Elisio MARTIN took a surprise bronze, Spain's first at the event.

The race started with a bang when Shaheen's Qatari team-mate Khamis Abdullah SAIFELDIN surged to the front, seemingly pace making Shaheen in a bid to break the field early, if not break a few records too. The rest were clearly taken completely by surprise, and the two leaders had a 20 metre lead by the time they'd run the first lap.

Over the second circuit, Kenya's Abraham CHERONO burst from the pack to try and make up the ground on his brother Shaheen, and he almost caught him by the end of the second lap. Then Shaheen took it on, as Saifeldin faded, his work done. His elder brother was not giving up easily, but struggled to stay in touch. They passed one kilometre in 2:36.24. With the track-side marker reading four to go Shaheen had stretched his lead to 30 metres while behind him Kenya's Ezekiel KEMBOI was catching Cherono.

Half a lap later Kemboi, sensing Shaheen was tiring, put in an amazing burst of speed to close the gap. Within a lap he had done it, and the two were together for the final kilometre. But Cherono, in third, was now being chased down by Luis Miguel MARTIN and his Spanish namesake. By the bell both Spaniards were within five metres of the leading pair and France's Bouabdallah TAHRI had also pulled himself up into contention.

With 300m left Shaheen kicked again, but Kemboi hung on, and Martin (Elisio) was another three metres adrift. Kemboi hit the water jump first and Shaheen looked beaten. But nothing about this race was predictable. Shaheen fought back and they flew over the final barrier side by side.

On the run-in, the new Qatari somehow had the strength to get to the line first, kissing his hands and spreading his arms wide, as he stopped the clock at 8:04.39, just 23-hundredths outside Moses Kiptanui's Championships record from 1995.

Kemboi clocked 8:05.11 and Martin (Elisio) won the race for bronze, breaking his personal best by more than four seconds, 8:09.09. Tahri was fourth, with Cherono the elder in fifth. Martin (Luis Miguel) was rewarded for his chasing efforts with a season's best 8:13.52 in sixth.

1 Saif Saeed Shaheen QAT 15 Oct 82 8.04.39    
2 Ezekiel Kemboi KEN 25 May 82 8.05.11    
3 Eliseo Martín ESP 5 Nov 73 8.09.09    
4 Bouabdellah Tahri FRA 20 Dec 78 8.10.65    
5 Abraham Cherono KEN 21 Jul 80 8.13.37    
6 Luís Miguel Martín ESP 11 Jan 72 8.13.52    
7 Simon Vroemen NED 11 May 69 8.13.71    
8 José Luis Blanco ESP 3 Jun 75 8.17.16    
9 Jukka Keskisalo FIN 27 Mar 81 8.17.72    
10 Ali Ezzine MAR 3 Sep 78 8.19.15    
11 Yoshitaka Iwamizu JPN 20 Jun 79 8.19.29    
12 Khamis Abdulla Saifeldin QAT 1 Dec 76 8.28.37    
13 Abdelkader Hachlaf MAR 3 Jul 79 8.35.17    
  Reuben Kosgei KEN 2 Aug 79 DNF    
  Luleseged Wale ETH 29 May 82 DNS    
  Heats     23 August    
  Heat 1          

Men 3000 m Steeplechase Heats

Eight men broke 8:20.00 in the heats of the men’s 3000 metres Steeplechase this evening, headed by Kenya’s Ezekiel KEMBOI, the second fastest man in the world this year. Kemboi won the first heat in 8:18.10, and all three of the fastest qualifiers came from this race.

Not Kemboi’s Kenyan team-mate, Michael KIPYEGO, however. With eight Kenyans among the top 10 steeplechasers in the world this year, when one of them fails to make the final of the World Championships it merits a mention, even if Kipyego is not one of those eight. He was winding up for a battle down the home straight, chasing a fastest losers’ spot, when he slipped in the final water jump, a mishap that put him out of contention.

A bunch of his current and former countrymen helped to keep his nation’s tradition alive though. Apart from Kemboi, Abraham CHERONO scrambled to finish fourth (and so qualify automatically) in the second heat, won by his former namesake Saif Saaeed SHAHEEN of Qatar (formerly Stephen Cherono of Kenya) in 8:22.20.

SHAHEEN is the fastest man in the world this year, with a best of 8:02.48, more than seven seconds faster than the reigning world champion Reuben KOSGEI (KEN), who also went through, but only in fourth place from heat three. That race was won by Spain’s Luis Miguel MARTIN, who had time to wave at the track-side TV camera as he ran down the back straight before coasting home in 8:19.09.

Kosgei’s time was 8:20.63, just over half a second quicker than the man he beat in the Edmonton Final, Ali EZZINE of Morocco, who was another fastest loser for Tuesday evening’s Final. Japan’s Yoshitaka IWAMIZU set a new national record of 8:18.93 to qualify.

1 Ezekiel Kemboi KEN 25 May 82 8.18.09   Q
2 Simon Vroemen NED 11 May 69 8.18.24   Q
3 José Luis Blanco ESP 3 Jun 75 8.18.76   Q
4 Yoshitaka Iwamizu JPN 20 Jun 79 8.18.93   Q
5 Khamis Abdulla Saifeldin QAT 1 Dec 76 8.19.64   q
6 Ali Ezzine MAR 3 Sep 78 8.20.10   q
7 Luleseged Wale ETH 29 May 82 8.21.30   q
8 Peter Nowill AUS 15 Jun 79 8.26.22    
9 Michael Kipyego KEN 2 Oct 83 8.27.45    
10 Daniel Lincoln USA 22 Oct 80 8.32.47    
11 Vincent Le Dauphin FRA 28 Jun 76 8.36.42    
12 Matt Kerr CAN 3 May 76 8.57.62    
  Heat 2          
1 Saif Saeed Shaheen QAT 15 Oct 82 8.22.20   Q
2 Jukka Keskisalo FIN 27 Mar 81 8.22.41   Q
3 Eliseo Martín ESP 5 Nov 73 8.22.54   Q
4 Abraham Cherono KEN 21 Jul 80 8.22.67   Q
5 Boštjan Buč SLO 13 Apr 80 8.22.89    
6 Zouhair El Ouardi MAR 15 Feb 77 8.23.75    
7 Abdelhakim Maazouz ALG 28 Aug 75 8.24.60    
8 Martin Pröll AUT 21 Mar 81 8.25.84    
9 Mustafa Mohamed SWE 1 Mar 79 8.25.99    
10 Lotfi Turki TUN 6 Mar 75 8.28.95    
11 Angelo Iannelli ITA 27 Jul 76 8.36.08    
12 Robert Gary USA 5 Apr 73 8.38.20    
  Heat 3          
1 Luís Miguel Martín ESP 11 Jan 72 8.19.09   Q
2 Bouabdellah Tahri FRA 20 Dec 78 8.19.44   Q
3 Abdelkader Hachlaf MAR 3 Jul 79 8.19.49   Q
4 Reuben Kosgei KEN 2 Aug 79 8.20.63   Q
5 Steve Slattery USA 14 Aug 80 8.22.32    
6 Tewodros Shiferaw ETH 21 Sep 80 8.23.41    
7 Radosław Popławski POL 16 Jan 83 8.24.34    
8 Vadym Slobodenyuk UKR 17 Mar 81 8.28.64    
9 Filmon Ghirmai GER 25 Jan 79 8.28.89    
10 Pavel Potapovich RUS 26 Nov 80 8.38.63    
11 Motsamai Motone RSA 26 Jun 78 9.05.45    
  Günther Weidlinger AUT 5 Apr 78 DNF    

Heat 1 23 AUG 2003 19:00 

1 800 Ezekiel Kemboi KEN KEN 8:18.09 Q
2 998 Simon Vroemen NED NED 8:18.24 Q SB
3 379 José Luis Blanco ESP ESP 8:18.76 Q
4 761 Yoshitaka Iwamizu JPN JPN 8:18.93 Q NR
5 1119 Khamis Abdullah Saifeldin QAT QAT 8:19.64 q
6 911 Ali Ezzine MAR MAR 8:20.10 q
7 433 Luleseged Wale ETH ETH 8:21.30 q PB
8 61 Peter Nowill AUS AUS 8:26.22
9 810 Michael Kipkorir Kipyego KEN KEN 8:27.45
10 1411 Daniel Lincoln USA USA 8:32.47
11 484 Vincent Le Dauphin FRA FRA 8:36.42
12 215 Matthew Kerr CAN CAN 8:57.62

Heat 2 23 AUG 2003 19:13 

1 1121 Saif Saaeed Shaheen QAT QAT 8:22.20 Q
2 444 Jukka Keskisalo FIN FIN 8:22.41 Q PB
3 392 Eliseo Martín ESP ESP 8:22.54 Q
4 797 Abraham Cherono KEN KEN 8:22.67 Q
5 1232 Boštjan Buč SLO SLO 8:22.89
6 910 Zouhair Ouerdi MAR MAR 8:23.75
7 17 Abdelhakim Maazouz ALG ALG 8:24.60 SB
8 66 Martin Pröll AUT AUT 8:25.84
9 1288 Mustafa Mohamed SWE SWE 8:25.99
10 1342 Lotfi Turki TUN TUN 8:28.95
11 705 Angelo Iannelli ITA ITA 8:36.08
12 1395 Robert Gary USA USA 8:38.20

Heat 3 23 AUG 2003 19:26 

1 393 Luis Miguel Martín ESP ESP 8:19.09 Q
2 493 Bouabdellah Tahri FRA FRA 8:19.44 Q
3 914 Abdelkader Hachlaf MAR MAR 8:19.49 Q
4 814 Reuben Kosgei KEN KEN 8:20.63 Q
5 1431 Steve Slattery USA USA 8:22.32 PB
6 428 Tewodros Shifer ETH ETH 8:23.41 PB
7 1095 Radoslaw Poplawski POL POL 8:24.34
8 1359 Vadym Slobodenyuk UKR UKR 8:28.64 SB
9 568 Filmon Ghirmai GER GER 8:28.89
10 1180 Pavel Potapovich RUS RUS 8:38.63
11 1145 Alexandra Motone RSA RSA 9:05.45
  67 Günther Weidlinger AUT AUT DNF




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