By AYUMBA AYODI
Will the World 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop live up to his dream of shattering the 16-year metric mile record at Herculis Monaco Diamond League?
That is the question the world will be seeking an answer to when the 24-year-old athlete from Uasin Gishu makes an attempt at the World Record time of 3:26.00 that has stood since July 14, 1998 from Rome.
The record is held by Moroccan legend Hicham El Guerrouj.
It’s during last year’s the Herculis meet where the 2011 Daegu and 2013 Moscow World 1,500m gold medallist set a personal best 3:27.72 hence making the grounds the most appropriate to attempt the World Record.
His exploits at the Herculis last year made Kiprop the fourth fastest man ever at the distance.
“I have been longing for that moment in Monaco and I can’t wait for this day to be over,” said Kiprop in an earlier interview. “Many people believe I am capable of breaking the World Record and I feel the weight.”
“It’s not easy digging a sub 3:26 per say but I will try my best, although I might not be 100 per cent sure since it will also depend on several factors,” said Kiprop adding that he will need to stay focused and have a good rhyme in terms of pacers.
READ FOR THE RACE
Kiprop set the fastest 800m time of the year – 1:43.34 – in winning at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris on July 5, a race he said was “part of his preparation” for his 1500m in Monaco.
(READ: Asbel Kiprop and Edwin Soi win Paris races)
“I have gauged my body right from Doha in May as I laid down my strategies. I want to get the rhyme and every step right,” said Kiprop.
“My aim was to run a 1:44 in Paris, but in the final 200m I felt I could do more,” said Kiprop at a press conference in Monaco. “I enjoy it every time I come to Monaco. In 2011 I ran my 800m personal best of 1:43.15, in 2012 I had the world-leading 1500m time of 3:28.88, and last year it was the fourth-fastest time ever.”
Kiprop was speaking during a pre-race interview in Monaco alongside his compatriot, friend and neighbour in Eldoret – Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha, who equalled Kiprop’s world-leading 800m mark a week later at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Glasgow.
(READ: David Rudisha romps to victory in Glasgow)
For Rudisha, Monaco is the next step in his return to peak fitness following a year’s absence due to a knee injury.
“It’s been a difficult year for me,” Rudisha said. “Coming back from injury hasn’t been an easy job. I wanted to come back with time of around 1:44, which I did in Eugene, and I was happy with that. Then afterwards I wanted a win to help me get back my confidence. So my shape is progressing,” said the World 800m record holder.
(READ: Rudisha bounces back in New York)
“Asbel is a good friend of mine. We sometimes run together in the morning when we meet in Eldoret. He lives about 200m away from my homestead. I watched his race in Paris when he did 1:43.34 – I didn’t think he was going to run that fast! So when he did that, of course I had to push my training.
“I want to improve with each race and closing the season with 1:42 would be great. But if I feel great, I could even do that 1:42 here,” added Rudisha.
Kiprop is up against a strong field that has the Series leader Silas Kiplagat, the winner in Rome and Glasgow, and Ronald Kwemoi, who won in Lausanne. The 2014 World Indoor 1,500m champion Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman, who won bronze in 800m at the World Championships, is another potential threat to Kiprop’s ambition.
It will be the first time Rudisha will be meeting World champion Mohammed Aman and London Olympic silver medallist Amos Nijel since Eugene where Nijel won in a World lead and meet record time of 1:43.63. Rudisha finished seventh in 1:44.87 in a race that mark his return after a one year lay-off due to a knee injury.
Rudisha would win in New York and Glasgow while the Series leader Aman won in Doha and Rome.
Series leader Eunice Sum is expected to uphold her unbeaten run in 800m since winning the World title in August last year in Moscow. Sum carries into to the race victories from Doha, Rome, Oslo and Lausanne where she set a season best of 1:58.48. Also in the race are 2007 World champion Janeth Jepkosgei and Agatha Jeruto, who are both headed for the Commonwealth Games.
The 5,000m leader Mercy Cherono is poised for her third victory after New York and Lausanne but faces stiff challenge from Rome winner Genzebe Dibaba.
The new kid on the block, Jairus Birech is hoping for his fourth consecutive win in 3,000m steeplechase after making short work of the field in Rome, Oslo and Lausanne. The only other winner this year in steeplechase beside Birech -who set a World Lead time of 8:02.37 in Oslo – is the World and Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi (Doha 8:04.12).
Courtesy of nation.co.ke