Conseslus Kipruto insists his best days are still ahead despite what has been a trying year
At the beginning of 2020, steeplechase star Conseslus Kipruto was aiming for another Olympic gold, a shot at the world record and other personal accolades, but a cocktail of issues, including the coronavirus outbreak and court case prevented him from defending his title in Tokyo.
The 26-year-old, who won the World Youth and 2012 World junior titles, now faces a bleak future, and it seems we might have seen the last of the immensely talented athlete.
At the Wanda Diamond League in Paris on Saturday, he recorded yet another uninspiring statistic.
The world champion pulled out of the race after five laps.
That meant he had started four races since the beginning of 2020 and failed to finish any of them Including the Kenyan Tokyo trials in June where he stepped out of the track after barely three laps.
In November 2019, he pleaded not guilty after he was charged with having sex with a 15-year-old and was released on bail.
As he awaits his fate, questions are also being raised about his future on the track or even road race should he wish to transition.
“I don’t really know what would have happened had the Olympics happened in 2020,” Kipruto told People Sport.
“Maybe I might have won, maybe not. You can’t really tell,” disclosed Kipruto, who has won four major 3,000m steeplechase titles in the last four years.
The first came at the Rio Olympics in 2016, followed by his maiden world title in London in 2017 and then gold at the Commonwealth Games the following year.
At the Doha World Athletics Championships, he defended his world title by thickness of his vest despite staying out of competition for a while due to an ankle injury.
“I have never recovered fully from the injury, it has been on and off. I was not fit during the trials,” disclosed Kipruto when asked about his future.
While he respects Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali from Morocco, and even calls him his friend, the sight of him winning gold in Tokyo is one that hurts.
“Just like everyone else, I know steeplechase is our event. I know we shall bounce back but that moment in Tokyo still hurts,” he adds.
He believes he still has a lot to offer as an athlete.
“People are saying Kipruto is done. People are talking negatively about me, how arrogant I am and why I deserve everything coming my way. That is far from the truth, I know I will come back stronger,” he adds.
He says the kind of attitude that saw him become an Olympic and world champion is what will push him to glory once again.
“What people think doesn’t bother me. The process is the same -- hard work, a never-say-die attitude.
I am a patient man and I will rise again,” said the athlete who three years ago won the Diamond League final two years ago wearing just one shoe.
Having failed to defend his Olympic title, Kipruto is eyeing to retain his title at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, next summer. He is not thinking about the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham also planned for next year with the two events happening weeks apart.
“It is extremely frustrating because I don’t know in what form or shape I will be in next year.
I have too much pressure on my side to live up to expectations and that, trust me, weighs you down.”