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Steeplechase sweep for Kenyan trio

Kenya claim a clean sweep of the medals in the Olympic steeplechase
• Olympics 2004: Special report 

ATHENS, Greece (Reuters) -- Ezekiel Kemboi led home a jubilant Kenyan clean sweep of the medals in the men's Olympic 3,000 meters steeplechase final on Tuesday.

The world championship silver medalist beckoned team-mates Brimin Kipruto and Paul Kipsiele Koech over the line after him as he took gold in a time of eight minutes 5.81 seconds.

The trio headed Musa Obaid Amer, himself a former Kenyan now representing Qatar, over the line to maintain the African country's almost total dominance of the event.

Kenya have now won the last six Olympic 3,000 steeplechase golds and the three medalists embraced in a joyful jig at the end before embarking on their joint lap of honour.

The victory was especially sweet for the Kenyans because of the ill feeling created by the defection to Qatar of several of their top runners.

Kemboi finished second at last year's world championships in Paris to Qatar's world champion Saif Saeed Shaheen, formerly Kenyan Stephen Cherono, who switched to represent the Gulf State on a lucrative contract.

Shaheen, though, was absent from Athens after the disgruntled Kenyan Olympic Committee blocked his participation.

By the end of the first circuit on Tuesday the three Kenyans had established themselves at the front, led by 19-year-old Kipruto, with Amer following their every move.

Koech, the fastest man in the world this year, took it up and stretched out the field before the 22-year-old Kemboi moved decisively to the front with 200 metres to go.

Displaying virtual contempt for the rest of the field he turned to wave his team mates on after each of the last remaining hurdles and Kipruto and Koech duly obliged, leaving Amer to settle for fourth place.

World's greatest

Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic cemented his position as the world's greatest all-round athlete when he won the Olympic decathlon gold medal with an emphatic late surge on Tuesday.

The world-record holder and only man to break the 9,000 points barrier had trailed Kazakhstan's Dmitriy Karpov for much of the 10-discipline test but hit the front with a spectacular 70.52-metere javelin throw in the penultimate event.

That turned a 46-point deficit on Karpov into a 63-point lead over Bryan Clay of the United States and the experienced, 29-year-old Sebrle then safely negotiated the 1,500 meters to add gold to the silver he won in Sydney four years ago.

His winning total was 8,893 points. Clay, 24, took the silver with 8,820 to continue his remarkable progress over the last two years while the 23-year-old Karpov took the bronze with 8,725.

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