HomeSportsAthletics20 shocking facts about steeplechase that no one knows about!

20 shocking facts about steeplechase that no one knows about!

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One of the most fun to watch and difficult events in the Olympics’ track and field category is Steeplechase. In simple language, steeplechase is a 3km obstacle race with four hurdles and a water pit. It can also be called a long-distance hurdling event, simulated cross-country or human equestrian. Here are some strange and shocking facts about steeplechase that will astonish you.

Men’s steeplechase is a part of the Olympics since 1920, but the women’s steeplechase was added recently in 2008 because people were worried that women’s uteruses would fall out.

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Gender-Inequality-in-Sports. (Source: BohotALA)

The event has its origin in Ireland where Horses and riders used to race between steeples of one town to another. Here, the steeples are basically markers as they are visible from far. The runners had to jump streams and stone walls separating estates along the way.

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Steeples in Ireland (Source: Metropole Hotel Cork)

Another form of steeplechase is a horse race in which competitors jump through diverse fence and ditch obstacles. But there are no obstacles in this one.

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Steeplechase horse (Source: Ledger-Enquirer)

The runners have to clear 28 barriers and 7 water jumps through the course of the track. This means they there are 4 hurdles and 1 water jump in each lap after the first lap.

Track Steeplechase Kreedonn
Track Steeplechase (Steeple Chics)

Hurdles in steeplechase are wider and more stable compared to the hurdle races in the track and field category. Unlike hurdle races, athletes can even step on these while jumping over and the hurdle will not fall.

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Hurdle Steeplechase Step (Source: WikiHow)

Height of each hurdle is 36 inches in men’s steeplechase and 31 inches in women’s steeplechase.

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Hurdle Steeplechase (Source: Stadia Sports)

The water jump is basically a hurdle followed by a water pit with a depth of 70cm just after the hurdle sloping upwards away from the hurdle. Athletes try to jump farther to avoid water to maintain their speed.

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water jump steeplechase (Source: Everything track and field)

Athletes are not required to jump completely over the hurdles. They can step or swing their legs over while vaulting with their hands.

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Steeplechase tired acts (Source: American TRA)

Unlike other track events, a steeplechase does not bound athletes in separate lanes. In fact, the runners can break immediately for the inner lane after a bunched standing start. Runners generally run in a group which even makes it really tough to see the track ahead.

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Group Steeplechase (Source: Business Insider)

The water jump is not a part of the oval track and is rather located somewhere inside or outside the turning point of the course. This disturbs the running length of the track per lap which is compensated with a backstretch or homestretch start depending on the situation.

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Waterjump (Source: Wikipedia)

Steeplechase also produces some hilarious highlights when runners miss the hurdle. Unlike the hurdle races, the hurdles remain intact in this scenario and the athlete falls hard on the face in a steeplechase.

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Steeplechase Falls (Source: The big lead)

It is a long distance event which requires a lot of endurance. By the 6th to 7th lap, players are gassed out and sometimes use unfair techniques to cross the hurdles. This can lead to direct disqualification if caught by the referee. A Papua New Guinea runner, Sapolai Yao once used a potted plant pot which was placed beneath the hurdle to clear the water pit hurdle in 2010. He was disqualified from the event for this act.

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Sapolai Yao caught in the act (Source: The Telegraph)

One of the most famous mishaps in the history of the Olympics happened in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics’ steeplechase event. The officials lost count of the number of laps and the athletes actually kept running for 3460m.

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1932 Olympics (Source: Australian Olympic Committee)

Moses Kiptanui is remembered as the ‘daddy’ of the steeplechase. Though he never won an Olympic gold medal he was the world’s leading steeplechaser from 1991 to 1995. He broke the world record multiple times and landed three world titles in the process (1991, 1993, 1995).

Moses Kiptanui Kreedon
Moses Kiptanui (Source: Edubilla)

Ruth Jebet is the world record holder and the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the 3000 metres steeplechase event. The Kenya-born long-distance runner competes internationally for Bahrain and achieved both the feats as a teenager. She is a very controversial figure in Kenya as she switched her allegiances after being approached by Bahrain as a 16-year-old and offered a full scholarship in an animal health degree in the country. In fact, she still trains in Kenya but represents Bahrain on the international stage. She is currently suspended for after failing a drug test in February 2018 and testing positive for EPO.

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Ruth Jebet (Source: CNN)

Kenya is the most dominant nation in the long distance event. They hold the best record winning 13 of the 18 medals conquering the past six men’s Olympic titles in the process. Qatar and Bahrain are also strong contenders in the category majorly because of their Kenyan-born athletes.

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Kenya dominant (Source: IAAF)

Amos Biwott is the first Kenyan to win an Olympic gold medal. He created this history with a legendary moment, leaping over the water jump without landing his foot on top of the barrier in 1968.

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Amos Biwott (Source: Paukwa)

Gulnara Galkina marked her entrance in 2003 with a world record-breaking performance. The Russian then improved it in 2004. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she won the gold medal becoming the first woman in history to cover the distance within nine minutes, shattering the world record once again.

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Gulnara Galkina (Source: Zimbio)

Steeplechase also has a 2000 metres version of the event. The 2000-meter steeplechase is basically a standard youth athletics event. The event is also a part of the IAAF World U18 Championships’ athletics programme for boys and girls.

2000-meter steeplechase Kreedon
2000-meter steeplechase (Source: Newsday)

One of the most famous athletes in Indian Track and field history, Pan Singh Tomar used to run in Steeplechase for India in the late 1950s. He represented India in the 1958 Asian Games. After retirement, he was returned back to his village and got involved in family disputes. He died as the most wanted decoit of the era in a shootout that lasted for over 12 hours.

Pan Singh Tomar Kreedon
Pan Singh Tomar (source: Flickr)

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Raghav Heda
Raghav is a sports enthusiast and a content writer at Kreedon. Being a former state-level cricketer and Captain of the Basketball team at IIT Patna, he understands the problems faced by a student-athlete in India. He is also a die-hard NBA fan and has been following the league and American Sports Media for long. Comparing the Indian sports economy to American Sports' was something that motivated him to work for the development of Indian Sports.

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