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Kemboi on fire

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY WILLIAM NJUGUNA

World and Olympic 3,000 metres steeplechase champion, Ezekiel Kemboi yesterday said he is under no pressure ahead of the National athletics Trials this Saturday at Nyayo Stadium.

Kemboi said by virtue of him defending the title he won in Daegu, South Korea two years ago, Kenya will select four athletes for the water jump event— and exuded confidence of retaining the title.

“I’m ready for the national trials although I am already looking beyond them. My worry is not the trials but the World Championships in Moscow,” he said, adding: “ First things first....lets talk about the trials and then focus on the global championships.”

Kemboi is fresh from running a world leading time of 7:59.03 at the Diamond League Meeting in Paris last weekend.

Kemboi, who branded himself ‘Jina Kubwa’ meaning ‘Big name’, said he is currently enjoying top form and only those who are well prepared will match him when the gun for the final race is triggered at the World Championships in Moscow.

“I ran a good time in Paris last week and I can confidently say I am at my peak as we approach the trials and World Championships in Moscow,” added Kemboi.

The Olympic champion clocked 8:03.94 at the Prefontaine Classic in June and posted 8:07.00 at the Diamond League meeting in Oslo in mid June.

Kemboi said he is not worried about the emergence of world junior champion, Conselus Kipruto who has beaten him twice in the Diamond League circuit.

“ I understand him! He is a young boy and still very excited...We all passed that stage,” he added.

The steeplechase maestro noted that big stage events calls for big hearts—boasting that he possess all that. “I have been there and I Know one doesn’t just win races at the world stage because of form. Experience is key and one should be able to read his or her opponents well,” he added.

Kemboi confirmed that he will be in attendance for the Saturday event and urged his fans to expect the best from him if not the usual victory jig.

“The fans have always supported me and I want to play my part on home soil this Saturday just to reciprocate their support,” added Kemboi.

The two-time world gold medallist, however, warned that Kenyans will still have to be wary of the threat posed by double Olympic silver medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad of France. “He remains our biggest competitor and we must be weary of him. We can’t underrate him and we must come up with a plan to lock him out of the medal bracket,” noted Kemboi.

He said Kenyans will have the advantage of numbers and will need to plan well and sweep the board. The 3,000m steeplechase will be one of the key races especially considering the recent rivalry between Kemboi and Kipruto on the Diamond League circuit. Others entered for the race include Olympic bronze medallist Abel Mutai, 2008 Olympics champion Brimin Kipruto, Commonwealth Games champion Richard Matelong, former Olympic bronze medallist, Paul Kipsiele Koech and Jairus Kipchoge among others.