World Champs (Day 2): Shaheen Will Be in Battle against Kenyans

By Jörg Wenig

The final at 3,000-meter steeplechase on Tuesday evening in Helsinki will be thrilling. The big favorite, world record holder Saif Saaeed Shaheen (Qatar) ran in the heats on Sunday. On a day without any finals in the running events he clocked the fastest time of 8:11.79 minutes. The former Kenyan runner, who got much attention for switching his country and his name, has to compete against three Kenyans in the final. Among them is the Olympic Champion Ezekiel Kemboi, who finished second in the heats behind Shaheen in 8:11.90.

“I am prepared for the Kenyans—they are very good and fast, I know that,” said Saif Saaeed Shaheen. When he was asked about the current fact that more and more Kenyans are changing nationality, the Paris world champion said: “That is a problem of the Kenyan Athletics Federation.”

But some Europeans could achieve good placings in the 3,000m steeplechase final as well. KIMbia’s Bob Tahri (France) is among the finalists as well as the Austrian Günther Weidlinger or the Spaniard Antonio Jiménez.

While double Olympic Champion Kelly Holmes (Great Britain) is not competing, the 800m final could be a pure Russian affair. All three Russians qualified for the final which will be held on Tuesday: Svetlana Cherkasova, Larisa Chzhao and Tatyana Andrianova. Title holder Maria Mutola (Mosambique) also qualified, but isn’t in a very good shape.