Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Kenyas unmatched Steeplechase Record | The Olympics On The Record

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In the world of Olympic steeplechase,

no country comes close to Kenya.

This 3,000 metre race may have its origins in a dash

between village steeples in genteel England, but,

since 1968, it has been utterly dominated by the East Africans.

Kenya missed the 1976 and 1980 Olympics for political reasons,

but they won 21 of 30 medals available through

the ten Olympic Games, with a clean sweep of gold medals.

Perfection. Ten out of ten.

It's not merely a domination - it's a monopoly.

And here's something else - it's not like it's all because

of one or two superhuman individuals.

These ten golds have been spread around

nine different men. The Magnificent Seven.

- There's nine. - The Hateful Eight.


Ocean's Nine?


In 1968, Amos Biwott set the ball rolling, a man

whose technique was as unorthodox as his rise to fame.

He leapt the hurdles with feet together, and soared over

the water jumps as if the shallow pool was full of crocs.

But Biwott became an inspiration, a pioneer.

His young countrymen who admired his gold medal

soon set about emulating him.

In 1972, in Munich, Biwott was back, but back in sixth.

The gold and silver hung around the necks of Kipchoge Keino

and Ben Jipcho,

who went toe-to-toe until Keino streaked clear at the death.

In 1984, after the boycott, Kenya came back with a bang.

American Henry Marsh was the man who was supposed to have

the final kick, but Julius Korir showed him

how it was really done.

The Kenyan momentum was just getting started.

Seoul, 1988.

Kenya one and two.

Julius Kariuki powered to a new Olympic record.

Kenyans swept the board in Barcelona, 1992,

even with world champion Moses Kiptanui injured.

In the Olympic final, Matthew Birir tore his shoe

after a collision with an Algerian runner,

but still battled back from ninth to win gold.

It then went to Joseph Keter in 1996.

And Reuben Kosgei in 2000, but only after an almighty tussle.

The Kenyans went to Greece in 2004

and finished one, two, three,

with Ezekiel Kemboi holding off Kipruto and Koech.

It's a sweep - gold, silver and bronze for Kenya!

Each of them checked down the back straight that they were on

for the sweep, then celebrated

as one as the track lay scattered with the defeated.

Kipruto upgraded silver to gold four years later in Beijing.

But back to Ezekiel Kemboi.

The man from Rift Valley Province,

an Olympic champion in Athens,

was still going strong in London 2012.

At the end of a competitive, tactical race, Kemboi became

the first man to win two golds at the Olympic steeplechase.

He swapped his vest with the second placed Frenchman,

Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad,

but there was no doubting Kemboi was Kenyan.

Analysts have tried and usually failed to figure out

how one nation can be so good at one discipline.

They point to genetics, national diet

and a life lived at altitude.

Maybe. But maybe it's all about passion.

Kip Keino nailed it in 1972 when he said:

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