Worlds Day 8: Kiprop Wins The Men’s 1500m

American Matt Centrowitz took the bronze.

Asbel Kiprop celebrates with his victory in the men's 1500m at the World Championships. Photo: Associated Press

American Matt Centrowitz took the bronze.

By David Monti (c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

DAEGU (03-Sep) — Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop won a well-deserved gold medal in the 1500m at the 13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics here on Saturday night, the first ever by a Kenyan in a world championships.┬áKiprop, 22, the reigning Olympic and African champion, ran a classic championship-style race, following a moderate and steady early pace set by reigning Olympic silver medallist Nick Willis of New Zealand.

Willis, who lives and trains in Michigan in the United States, clocked 60.1 for the first lap then 61.8 for the second, hoping to tire some of his rivals. “The plan was to go 60, 61’s, fast enough that any of the guys running out in lane two or three would pay for the extra distance they would run,” Willis posited. “If you’re running 66’s, it doesn’t matter if you’re running in lane eight.” The solid pace set my Willis proved to be a big advantage for Kiprop and his teammate, Silas Kiplagat.

The field was just stretched out enough so that just past the 800m mark, Kiprop had plenty of room to up the tempo and shoot ahead. Ethiopia’s Mekonnen Gebremedhin followed, as did Kiprop’s teammate Silas Kiplagat.

Kiplagat, who didn’t start running the 1500m seriously until last season, led at the bell (2:44.24). But it was Kiprop who would make the definitive move for victory. “I wanted to run in front to avoid the traffic during the last 300 meters,” Kiprop explained after running a 51.5 second final lap to secure victory. He added matter of factly: “The race went as I expected.” Kiprop clocked 3:35.69 to Kiplagat’s 3:35.92, the first time any nation has finished 1-2 in the 1500m at these championships.

Behind the two Africans, American Matt Centrowitz, the USA open and collegiate champion, was in sixth position coming into the final turn. “Centro” came wide, and sprinting in lane three moved up to third, passing Morocco’s Abdalatti Iguider just before the finish to get the bronze in 3:36.08. Centrowitz was shocked. “Taking the victory lap I still didn’t think that was real,” said Centrowitz, the son of the two-time Olympian with the same name.

Kiprop, who lives and trains in Eldoret, said his season wasn’t finished. “Well, I’m going to have to do some races in the Diamond League –the remaining ones, Zurich and Brussels– before going home and relax and prepare for the Olympic Games,” he said. He also said that he would contain his celebration tonight because he planned to watch tomorrow’s men’s marathon where the Kenyan team can increase their total medal haul, already at 14, the third highest total of any country at these championships.

“Tomorrow I’ll actually be on the road giving out water to the marathoners and supporting them,” Kiprop said.