Battling Kenya in China


At the 2012 London Olympics, Donn Cabral made waves by leading the opening laps of the men’s steeplechase final.  In addition, Cabral was one of two American men in that final – a record for Team USA at the Olympics.  He ended up finishing in 8th place with a time of 8:25.91.

Earlier today, Cabral did almost a visual repeat of the Olympic final in the IAAF World Championship steeplechase final.  Within 1.5 laps into the race, Cabral was in the front of the 12-person pack, dictating the pace with Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto and doing his best to avoid any physical contact with the other athletes like he experienced in the qualifying heats.  They went through the 1st 1,000m in 2:49.50 (note – faster than the Olympic final, which he led through in 2:52.70 for the first 1,000m).  But shortly after that time was posted,  Kipruto’s comrade Jarius Kipchoge Birech began to surge, thinning out the pack and forcing Cabral to drop back.  Cabral tried to stay with the main pack, by he kept falling back – he was sitting in 8th place at the 2,000m mark and dropped to 9th at the bell.  He tried to pick up the speed during the bell lap, but he ultimately finished in 10th place with a time of 8:24.94.  Cabral was not pleased with his overall performance as he shared with that he “just didn’t have the legs to do what I wanted to do today.”

But there are two takeaways that are worth noting.  While the finish was lower than what he had done at the 2012 Olympics, his time was faster almost a second.  Also, Team USA had their best ever performance in the steeplechase as Cabral joined Dan Huling (5th – 8:14.39) and Evan Jager (6th – 8:15.47) in the top 10.

Kenya ended up sweeping the top 4 spots, led by the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi in 8:11.28.

Sean Furey was the other Heps athlete who competed today.  In the men’s javelin throw qualifying rounds, Furey finished 29th overall with a best throw of 75.01  meters that came on his final attempt.  If he wanted to make it to the finals, he would have needed to repeat his national title winning performance or better as the automatic berth needed a throw of at least 83.00 meters while the final at-large berth was 80.86 meters.  Furey threw 83.08 meters to win the 2015 USA title back in June.  That mark is his all-time personal best.

If you’re anxious for the next round of Heps competition in Beijing, you’ll need to wait until tomorrow night, as Ben True competes in the 5,000m heats at 9:35pm while Samyr Laine will be in the triple jump qualifying rounds at 10pm.   Details on how you can stream the meet online are available here.

Zimbio photos – Day 3

photo by Lintao Zhang

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