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What is the steeplechase event at the Olympics?

We dive into the steeplechase, which is held at the summer Olympic games as an event in the track and field category.

Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya competes in the Women’s 3000 metres Steeplechase final during day four of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium on September 30, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Track and Field (known in the Olympics as Athletics) kicked off Friday, July 30th Tokyo time, and highlighting that schedule is an event you may not be so familiar with: steeplechase. We take a look at what comprises the steeplechase event, its origins and how it's scored at the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

What is steeplechase?

Steeplechase is a foot race, considered a track and field event, that includes a set of obstacles, including barriers and small pools of water that the participants must overcome. Both men and women compete in a 3,000-meter race with 28 barriers to overcome and seven jumps across water pits. The barriers are 3 feet tall for the men, while the barriers are 30 inches for the women. The water pits have a 12-foot landing area and are just over 2 feet and 3 inches at their deepest.

Steeplechase originated as a horserace in the 1700s, where participants used church steeples between towns as starting and ending points. Like the modern-day steeplechase event, participants had to overcome obstacles on their way from steeple to steeple, like fences, streams and walls.

Men’s steeplechase joined the list of Olympic events back in 1920, while the women’s steeplechase event joined the Olympics in 2008.

How is it scored?

The men’s and women’s steeplechase events are timed. Saif Saaeed Shaheen of Qatar holds the world record for the Men’s 3000 Steeplechase at 7 minutes and 53.63 seconds, set in 2004. Beatrice Chepkoech set the women’s world record in 2018 with a time of 8:44.32 seconds and is favored to win the Gold at the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

How to watch steeplechase events at Tokyo Summer Olympics

Coverage of the men’s 3000m steeplechase begins on Friday, July 30th at 9:30 a.m. in Tokyo (Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET for those in the US) with three heats in Round 1. You can live stream coverage directly here.

Women’s Round 1 heats start Sunday, August 1st at 9:40 a.m. in Tokyo (Saturday at 8:40 p.m. ET for those in the USA). You can live stream coverage directly here.

Keep in mind that to live stream the Men’s and Women’s 3000m Steeplechase events, on NBCOlympics.com or the NBC Sports mobile app, you’ll need a cable subscription for access. If you don’t have one, you can get a free trial for USA and NBC Sports Network through YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, AT&T TV Now, FuboTV, or Sling TV to stream the contests.

Steeplechase odds at Toyko Summer Olympics

Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco is favored to win the Gold Medal in the Men’s 3000m steeplechase, with odds at +175, followed closely by Getnet Wale of Ethiopia (+300) and Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia (+450). El Bakkali also represented Morocco in the 2016 Rio Olympics where he took fourth place in the Men’s 3000m steeplechase with a time of 8:14.49. His personal best was 8:03.76 in the 2019 World Championships in Qatar.

Beatrice Chepkoech (Kenya) is favored to win the Gold Medal in the Women’s 3000m steeplechase on DraftKings Sportsbook, with odds to win at +175. As noted above, Chepkoech set the women’s world record as the fastest woman to complete the 3000m Steeplechase

Chepkoech is closely followed by fellow Kenyan, Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi, with odds to win the gold at +200, and Emma Coburn of the USA at +300. Chepkoech set the women’s world record for the 3000m Steeplechase in 2018 with a time of 8:44.31 and recently broke the women’s 5km record back in February. Kiyeng took him a silver medal in the event back in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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