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GOLDEN GIRL: Ruthless Jebet wins steeplechase for Bahrain

Rio Olympics
GDN Online Desk

Bharain's Ruth Jebet was yesterday crowned the new Olympic champion in the women’s 3,000 metres steeplechase.

Jebet clinched the Kingdom of Bahrain’s first-ever gold medal at any Olympic Games with a scintillating performance that saw her almost register a new World record.

The 19-year-old won in a blistering time of eight minutes 59.75 seconds, which was the second-fastest time ever in the women’s steeplechase. It was also a new Asian Record.

“This is a great day, a historic day for Bahrain!” Chef de Mission Yousef Abdulqader told the GDN last night by telephone.

“For the first time, Bahrain has won a gold medal, and also for the first time, we won two medals in an Olympics.

“Ruth came very close to getting a new World record. All of us here are very happy and we thank God for this success.”

Jebet dominated and dictated the race from the very beginning. At the start, she shared the lead running shoulder to shoulder with American Emma Coburn, but she immediately powered ahead for a solo run.

She never looked back from there. Running in a class of her own, she built leads of up to 40 metres or more the rest of the way. She eventually finished unchallenged at the front, and her run was so strong that she helped seven of the trailing eight athletes achieve either a new Area Record, National Record, Personal Best or Season’s Best.

Hyvin Jepkemoi of Kenya won the silver medal in 9:07.12 while Coburn captured the bronze medal in 9:07.63.

Jebet’s run was described by pundits as one of the greatest performances ever at the Olympics. Her gold adds to a couple of other major successes in her young career, including a World junior title and an Asian Games title.

Her golden performance yesterday made it two days in a row that Bahrain has appeared on the Rio Olympic Games podium. On Sunday, Eunice Kirwa clinched the silver medal in the women’s marathon, capturing Bahrain’s first accolade in Brazil.

Their two medals helped Bahrain crack into the top 10 on the Games overall medal tally.

Also yesterday, prior to Jebet’s monumental success, Bahrain’s Edidiong Odiong barged through to the women’s 200m semi-finals.

She booked her ticket after winning the seventh and final heat of the opening stage in 22.74s, which was a new Personal Best.

The semi-finals take place early in the morning tomorrow at 4am, Bahrain time. Edidiong is the lone Bahraini taking part in the women’s 200m. 

Meanwhile, during the evening session of Sunday’s events which took place early in the morning, Bahrain time, Bahrain’s Ali Khamis could not accomplish his goal of winning a men’s 400m medal, but still had reason to celebrate with a new National Record.

Khamis completed his run in 44.36 seconds to finish in sixth place overall amongst the eight 400m finalists.

Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa clinched the gold medal in a new World Record time of 43.03s. Kirani James of Grenada was the silver-medallist in 43.76s, while LeShawn Merritt of the US claimed the bronze in 43.85s. Both James and Merritt clocked new Personal Bests.

Elsewhere for Bahrain, it was an evening of disappointments in the shorter sprints.

Both Oluwakemi Adekoya and Salwa Eid Naser came up agonisingly short in their hopes of qualifying for the women’s 400m final. Similarly, Kemarley Brown and Andrew Fisher could not advance to the men’s 100m final.

In the women’s 400m, both Oluwakemi and Salwa clocked a time of 50.88s in their respective heats, but it was not enough to get either of them through to the medal stage. They both missed out on automatic qualification and had to be one of two fastest losers. Unfortunately for the pair, they were tied as the third-fastest loser.

In the men’s 100m semi-finals, Brown finished fifth in his semi-final heat three in a time of 10.13s. That placed him 18th overall amongst all runners vying for one of just eight spots in the medal round.

For Fisher, who was competing in heat two, he had a false start and was therefore disqualified.

n His Majesty King Hamad expressed thanks for the congratulatory cable received from Supreme Council for Youth and Sports First Deputy Chairman and Bahrain Athletics Association President Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, on the gold and silver won by Bahraini athletes in Rio 2016

His Majesty praised the outstanding efforts of Shaikh Khalid that contributed to achieving the Bahraini accomplishments in the great international sports forum. He also hailed the good preparation and constant follow-up of Shaikh Khalid that led to the honorable successes.

The King extended thanks to women’s 3,000m steeplechase winner Ruth Jebet and raini marathoner Eunice Kirwa, who won the silver medal.

HM the King congratulated runner Ali Khamis on qualifying to the men’s 400 meter final, as well as all Bahraini athletes participating in the Olympics.