Two-time world 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop gave Kenyans a night to remember at the the IAAF Diamond League meeting at the Stade Louis II Stadium in Monaco on Friday night.
Kiprop, who has in the last two years vowed to attack the 1,500m all-time mark at the Monaco meet due to its fast track, came within one second of the world record in the men’s 1,500m.
It did not count towards the Diamond Race, but it had a big impact on the world all-time list. He clung to the pacemakers, who passed through 800m in 1:50.37. Double world and Olympic champion Mo Farah was leading the chasing pack, but at the bell, he was more than 10 metres behind his Kenyan rival.
Kiprop held his form on the final lap and continued to pull away from the rest of the field, clocking 3:26.69 to become the third-fastest 1500m runner in history behind Hicham El Guerrouj and Bernard Lagat. He broke El Guerrouj’s meeting record in the process.
In one of the deepest 1500m races in history with a record four men running faster than 3:29 and 10 men running faster than 3:31, Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi clocked a lifetime best of 3:28.75 and finished second.
Morocco’s 2012 world indoor champion Abdalaati Iguider also passed Britain’s Mo Farah on the last lap to clock 3:28.79, while Farah finished fourth in 3:28.93.
Nick Willis broke his own Oceanian record with 3:29.66 in fifth and the relatively unheralded Kenyan champion Elijah Manangoi took five seconds off his best to clock 3:29.67 in sixth.
That was not for the 26-year-old Kiprop, who has seen Hicham El Guerrouj, the world record holder (3:26.00), tip him to break the record.
Asbel, who missed the world record at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco last year, had vowed to make another attempt. “I still want to run fast time but my priority this year is to defend the world championships title in Beijing, China, next month,” he said. Earlier, El Guerrouj dispelled the notion that his record cannot be broken, remaining confident that Asbel can break it.
“The 1500m world record is difficult, but it can be broken. However, the only athlete I currently see capable of breaking it is Asbel Kiprop,” he told IAAF in an earlier interview.
Olympic 3000m steeplechase silver medallist Habiba Ghribi was making her outdoor season debut and she bid her time in the middle of the pack throughout the first two kilometres.
In the final lap, Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng closed slightly on the home straight, but Ghribi still won by more than a second in 9:11.28, the third-fastest time of her life. Kiyeng set a personal best time of 9:12.51 in second place ahead of Diamond Race leader Virginia Nyambura, who also set a lifetime best of 9:13.85. — Additional reporting by iaaf.org
Courtesy of standardmedia.co.ke