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Moroccan Ends Kenya’s Gold Medal Streak in Men’s 3000-Meter Steeplechase

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Morocco's Soufiane El Bakkali celebrates winning the 3000m steeplechase final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, 2 August 2021 (AFP/Jewel Samad)

By Dr. Fred J. Cromartie, Ed.D. |

The gold medal winning streak of 41 years for Kenyan runners in the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase was snapped on August 2, 2021 at the Tokyo Olympic Games.  

The streak was snapped by Moroccan runner Soufiane El Bakkali, who won the race with a time of 8:09.90.  After winning the race Soufiane El Bakkali was overcome with emotion because winning the gold medal was the first gold medal for Morocco and the first in the 3000-meter men’s steeplechase. El Bakkali, 25, made his move at the final water jump, moving past the Ethiopian duo of Lamecha Girma and Getnet Wale to claim the title. El Bakkali came into the Games as one of the favorites for a historic run in the absence of Kenya’s defending champion Conseslus Kipruto. El Bakkali has demonstrated his pedigree finishing second behind Kipruto at the London World Championships in 2017 and winning bronze at the Doha showpiece two years later.

After winning El Bakkali said “I am so used to seeing Kenyans win, it’s a big accomplishment for me. I have been aiming for this for years and this was my opportunity to show that Morocco is capable of winning this prize in front of the Kenyans.”

The men’s 3,000m steeplechase has been Kenya’s domain since 1968, where they have won the gold medal in every Olympics but Montreal 1976 and Moscow 1980, which they boycotted.

Dr. Fred Cromartie is the Director of Doctoral Studies at the United States Sports Academy.

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