Olympics Jerk Watch: Meet the Steeplechase Gold Medalist Who’s Accused of Stabbing Someone

Five-Ring Circus
A Blog About the Olympic Games
Aug. 7 2012 9:00 AM

Olympics Jerk Watch: Meet the Steeplechase Gold Medalist Who’s Accused of Stabbing Someone

Ezekiel Kemboi
Kenya's Ezekiel Kemboi celebrates after the men's 3000m steeplechase final at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/GettyImages

Nominee: Ezekiel Kemboi

Home country: Kenya

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Known for: Steeplechasing, stabbing, fancy dancing.

Why he might be a jerk: In June, the 30-year-old Kemboi was arrested in Kenya and charged with stabbing a 26-year-old woman in the chest. After an evening at a club drinking Red Bull and watching soccer, Kemboi offered to give Anne Njeri a ride home. The East African Standard reported that Kemboi, who just won the gold medal in the 3000-meter steeplechase, allegedly became enraged after Njeri refused to have sex with him, then stabbed her and drove away. Kemboi, for his part, claims that it was all a setup—that Njeri and two other men tried to rob him, and that Njeri was accidentally stabbed by one of her co-conspirators. Also, Kemboi performed a lengthy victory dance after winning steeplechase gold. You know who performs victory dances? Jerks!

Why he might not be a jerk: Kemboi is innocent until proven guilty, which is why the Kenyan Olympic Committee cleared him to run in London. And CNN reports that prosecutors have withdrawn the charges pending further investigation. Kemboi’s defense isn’t implausible, even if he seems a bit too eager to establish his credentials as an upright citizen. (“I offered her a lift… because I am a good person, I don’t have enemies,” he explained in a press conference.) Also, after that victory dance, he displayed some good sportsmanship by exuberantly exchanging jerseys with the silver medalist. That might not help his credentials, though, because the silver medalist was Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, himself a noted jerk.

Jerk score: I’ll give him 2 out of 3 for style, because he really ought to have evaded authorities with a high-speed chase involving hurdles and water hazards. 3 out of 3 for technical merit, because if allegedly stabbing someone isn’t at the top of the scale, then you’ve got a really messed-up scale. 1 out of 3 for consistency, because instead of denying the incident, a world-class jerk would have opened the press conference by saying, “I’ll stab all of you!” And 0 out of 1 in the “are you currently facing assault charges in your native land” category, though that might change pending the prosecutors’ investigation. 6 out of 10 for Ezekiel Kemboi.

Previous Olympics Jerk Watch entries: Michael PhelpsMahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, Ahmad Saber Hamcho, Ben Ainslie

 

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.

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