Kenya is undoubtedly the most successful nation in the athletic discipline of steeplechase with a total of 22 medals in the event in the Olympics. Kenya has won every men’s title since 1968, with the exceptions of 1976 and 1980, which were boycotted.
The Olympic record for the event for men is 8:03.28 minutes, set by Conseslus Kipruto in 2016 who is currently the world champion. Beatrice Chepkoech broke the world record in 2018 and was the world champion in 2019. Kenya has had great successes in the past with Ezekiel Kemboi having won multiple Olympic steeplechase titles in 2004 and 2012.
Today we focus on one of the new kids on the block, 27-year old Benjamin Kigen.
Kigen won the gold medal in the event at the 2019 African games and the 3000m steeplechase at the 2018 Prefontaine Classic, beating world champion Conseslus Kipruto and Olympic silver medalist Evan Jager. He finished the World Championships in Doha in 8:06.95 and is one of the hopefuls to represent Kenya at the Tokyo Olympics.
We caught up with Kigen during his training in Ngong at AIC church grounds where he trains among a group of many other top athletes including the 5000m world champion Hellen Obiri, to get an insight into his preparations for the year.
“First of all, last year didn’t go as planned because we were ready for cross-country and that didn’t happen. We couldn’t represent our country as we would have wanted to, I was ready to go for the Diamond leagues, I was mentally ready for world challenges even in 1500m.’’ He explained.
Kigen says that they have now increased training tricks in preparation for the new season. He also called on additional support for his training noting the importance of sponsorship.
‘’Once we have sponsors coming on board, they give us morale, we have to work even harder, we train harder, we have to put a good show, whether we are told the Olympics are tomorrow or even pushed further, we will have to be ready,’’ Kigen concluded by promising that Kenya will bring back a medal from Tokyo.
Most of the athletes are now preparing for Regional Cross Country Championship this coming weekend as they gear towards Tokyo Olympic games preparations.
National Olympic Committee Kenya