Back home, they poured out onto the streets to cheer for him. Steeplechase king Ezekiel Kemboi is a huge star in Kenya, where steeplechase is a huge deal.
— NTV Kenya (@ntvkenya) August 17, 2016
Kemboi retired after one last run in the Olympic 3,000 steeplechase final. He thought he was going out with a bronze after crossing third and watching his protege, Conseslus Kiprot, race away for his first Olympic title.
But Kemboi was disqualified, with the race jury ruling he stepped off the track after going over a water jump _ a DQ in his last race after two Olympic titles, four straight world championships golds and 14 years running at the top level.
Kipruto's gold still represented the correct order of succession for the dominant Kenyans, with Kemboi passing on the mantle to his chosen one.
Kemboi, hardly ancient at 34, had already played up to his advanced years with a new haircut for the final: The old man look.
(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
— Gitz (@iGitz_) August 17, 2016
Kemboi was also known for playing mindgames to unsettle his rivals at race time and, along with the haircut, he had one last jibe for the young Kipruto.
"He told me that it was going to be his last race ... and he told me he is going to win," Kipruto said. "You know Kemboi usually destroys somebody’s mind. But I told him, 'OK, let the track show who will be the king'."
The king is dead. Long live the king.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)