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Kenyan Benjamin Kigen ruffles steeplechase pecking
order ahead of Rome Diamond League meet

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s late bloomer Benjamin Kigen will turn up at the Rome leg of the Diamond League series hoping to earn the respect of his competitors in a crowded 3,000m steeplechase race.

Last week, to the surprise of many, Kigen won the water and hurdle race in Eugene, Oregon. Now Kigen is the man to beat.

"I just wanted to run a good race and show my talent.

"I did not expect to win but when I saw the opportunity I grabbed it.

"Nothing has changed for me, but I know I have the potential to run even faster and contest for a Kenyan national team slot," Kigen said on Wednesday in Nairobi.

America’s Evan Jager, the world silver medalist, for a moment did not believe his eyes when Kigen sprinted past him in Eugene on the way to winning the Prefontaine Classic.

He told the media that Kigen was a recognizable face, one he’d raced and easily beaten in both Monaco and Brussels last year.

He was a guy to be respected but certainly not feared.

"I have seen him on the circuit but I wasn’t expecting him to be the guy beating me for sure," admitted Jager.

"I thought it was going to be World and Olympic Champion Conseslus Kipruto and me battling over the last lap."

Kipruto himself was more wary, particularly given the slow pace and his knowledge of Kigen’s background.

"I know the guy, and I know he can run the last lap very well because he was a 1,500m guy," Kipruto said.

Kigen’s last lap, which he ran over five barriers, was covered in 57.9 seconds.

Truth be told, though, Kigen didn’t have as much confidence in himself as others had in him.

"I was not expecting it," said Kigen.

"This was my first time beating them.

"I dreamt of this and this year I have a new training technique so I will do better."

Kigen remains far more concerned with championship performances than fast times.

"My main goal is to represent Kenya at the African Championships and race in international races like the Continental Cup," he said.



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