Soufiane El Bakkali wins as the undisputed master of the 3,000m steeplechase

After his gold medal in the 3,000m steeplechase at the last Olympic Games in Tokyo, Moroccan athlete Soufiane El Bakkali achieved the feat of climbing to the top step of the podium at the Eugene Worlds.

El Bakkali won the gold medal on Tuesday in 8min 25sec 13/100th, ahead of the Ethiopian Lamecha Girma, Olympic and world vice-champion (8:26.01). Bronze went to reigning Kenyan world champion Conseslus Kipruto (8:27.92).

The 26-year-old athlete offers the Kingdom its first medal in this edition, he who won bronze in Doha in 2019 and silver in London in 2017.

The Ethiopian athlete Girma had set the 3,000m steeplechase on fire this season, with three times in less than 8 minutes in 10 days, between the end of May and the beginning of June.

However, he was dealing with an El Bakkali who was determined to complete his collection of world medals.

During this slow race open to all predictions, the Kenyans tried to accelerate the tempo, while El Bakkali was content to observe. In the last 300m, the Moroccan champion took control and left no chance for Girma, who also dreamed of the world title. The Moroccan athlete had sent a strong signal to his competitors by signing the best world performance of the year in the distance at the Mohammed VI international meeting in Rabat in early June (7:58.28).

He succeeded at the Tokyo Olympics to end Kenyans’ unchallenged domination over the distance, after nine consecutive Olympic titles since 1984.

He even became Morocco’s first Olympic champion since middle-distance legend Hicham El Guerrouj, who won gold in the 1,500m and 5,000m at the 2004 Athens Games.

Prior to Eugene-2022, Kenyans have won 15 of 17 world titles and clinched Olympic gold from Moscow 1980 to Rio 2016.

This world title also allows Morocco to enter the medal table, where the Kingdom is now ranked 10th in the world, in a ranking dominated by the United States with 16 medals (6 gold, 4 silver and 6 bronze), ahead of Ethiopia (3 gold and 3 silver) and Kenya (1 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze).

This feat should not however hide the more than modest participation, so far, of Moroccan athletes during these worlds, with the elimination of Mohamed Tindoufet and Salah Eddine Benyazid in the semi-finals of the 3,000 m steeplechase, in addition to Abdelatif Sadiki , Anass Essayi and El Hassan Moujahid during the qualifying heats of the 1,500 m.

In the marathon, Araaby Reda, Hamza Sahli and Othmane El Goumri failed to create a surprise, in the presence of the great athletes of the distance representing in particular Uganda and Kenya.

In the 10,000m, Talbi Zouhair settled for 21st place.

Morocco has won 30 medals, including 10 gold, 12 silver and 8 bronze, in its 17 previous participations in the world athletics championships.

The 1999 edition in Seville was the most prolific with five medals: two in gold (Hicham El Guerrouj in the 1,500m and Salah Hissou in the 5,000m), two in silver (Nezha Bidouane in the 400m hurdles and Zahra Ouaaziz in the 5,000m) and one in bronze (Ali Ezzine in the 3,000m steeples). Morocco was then ranked 5th in the world.

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