By AYUMBA AYODI
Defending champion Asbel Kiprop will spearhead Kenya’s foursome assault on the men’s 1,500m title on Sunday at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, China.
Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic champion, who is eying a historic hat-trick, strolled to the final alongside compatriots Silas Kiplagat, Elijah Manangoi and Timothy Cheruiyot on Friday.
Just like Usain Bolt in his 200m victory, Kiprop jogged top victory in the semi-final heat in 3:43.48, beating Nicholas Willis (New Zealand) to second in 3:43.57, followed by Kiplagat 3:43.64 and Matthew Centrowitz (USA) 3:43.97, who all qualified.
Manangoi clocked 3:35.00 to triumph, beating Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi from Algeria to sail through in the fastest semi-final heat on his debut at the World Championships. Moroccan Abdalaati Iguider wound third in 3:35.20 followed by Charlie Grice (Britain) 3:35.58 and Cheruiyot 3:35.74 to all qualify.
The final is due on Sunday, the final day of the championships, at the Bird’s Nest Stadium.
Kiprop made his intentions of a hat-trick at the world title known when he ran the third-fastest time in the history with victory in Monaco in 3:26.69 on July 22 this year, missing the World record held by Hicham El Guerrouj by 0.69 seconds.
The lanky Kenyan, who had won silver after losing narrowly in the final, was awarded the 2008 Beijing Olympic gold after the initial winner, Rashid Ramzi, was banned for failing a dope test.
Despite being a firm favourite, Kiprop disappointed many when he finished fourth at the 2009 Berlin, a tactical mistake he vowed not to repeat. The only person coming close to Kiprop this season is Algeria’s Makhloufi, in a time of 3:28.75.
Kiplagat is hungry for a major title after playing second fiddle to Kiprop in Daegu and Moscow. His only major win was at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games despite having dominated in the Diamond League, winning in 2012 and 2014. Kiplagat ran his personal best in Monaco, clocking a triumphant 3:27.64 to halt Kiprop’s dream of a world record last year.
Manangoi switched from 400m to 1,500m just before the trials for the 2013 Commonwealth Games. He would silence his critics when he secured a place in the team to finish 12th at the Glascow Games. He finished third during the trials for his maiden ticket to the World Championships. He is currently the second-fastest Kenyan this season after finishing second to Kiprop in Monaco in 3:29.67
Courtesy of nation.co.ke