Winfred Yavi explains why Kenya will struggle to end El Bakkali’s steeplechase dominance


ATHLETICS Winfred Yavi explains why Kenya will struggle to end El Bakkali’s steeplechase dominance

Mark Kinyanjui 05:32 - 15.09.2023

The 23-year-old has explained why Kenya will struggle to halt Soufianne El Bakkali's dominance in the event.

For a long time, Kenya, spearheaded by the likes of Ezekiel Kemboi, was renowned for its dominance in the men’s 3000m steeplechase category, until Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali started taking the race by storm, ending Kenya’s heritage.

Kenyan-born Bahraini steeplechase world champion Winfred Mutile Yavi has revealed the reason why male Kenyan athletes have struggled to keep the fire burning in the category since Ezekiel Kemboi’s retirement.

Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali has made the race his own. He has dominated the category for a while, winning the Olympic title in Tokyo in 2021, the 2022 Diamond League, and back-to-back world titles.

Speaking to Musyi FM, Mutile, who beat Kenyans Beatrice Chepkoech and Faith Cherotich as she stormed to victory at the just concluded World Championships, believes that Bakkali’s dominance is unlikely to be halted by anyone else anytime soon.

“From how he's maintained himself at the top of the game, I think he's maintained his body well and through practice such that he wins a lot,” Mutile said.

“I think he's been doing the things that I've begun to learn, he has become strong and will dominate for a long time as a result,” she added.

The 23-year-old has opened up on how she borrowed a leaf from the Moroccan, a ‘friend’ of hers who told her to ‘use her head’ before the final in Budapest.

“El Bakkali is my friend . We were at the same hotel during the championships. I went to greet him after he won gold and when I did he gave me some advice, wanna guess what he said? ‘use your head’. He guided me.”

Born in Kenya, Winfred Yavi transferred her allegiance to the oil-rich Middle Eastern state at the age of fifteen, becoming eligible to compete for her adopted nation in August 2016.