SPEEDY KIPROP REBOUNDS FROM LONDON DISAPPOINTMENT
Provided by IAAF
Asbel Kiprop found redemption on the blue Mondo track at the IAAF World Championship as the year's top athletics meeting came to a close on Sunday.
The fastest man currently running the 1500m, the Kenyan defended his World title by pushing aside the disappointment of the London 2012 Olympics Games and showing once again in a global championship he is the world's best man over the distance often called the metric mile.
The tall long-striding Kenyan surged to the front with about 80 metres to go and cruised home in 3:36.28 to beat the USA’s Matthew Centrowitz.
"I feel a redemption from what happened in London," said the 24-year-old Kiprop who, troubled by hamstring problems, trailed home a heartbreaking 12th at the Olympic final last summer.
This time, fitness was never a problem, and Kiprop was ready to run fast or slow, whichever tactic his competitors might throw at him.
"We expected a faster race, but I was ready for any kind of race," he said. "I have done a 3:27 this season and I was ready, and I even did a 3:43 during the semis so I was ready for any kind of race."
In the end, it came down to a finish any man with a big kick would delight in.
After Kiprop pulled his 11 fellow runners through 400m in 59.68, he yielded the lead to compatriot Nixon Chepseba until the final bend.
From there it almost seemed like plain sailing as Kiprop sprinted away to victory.
"It was a great race, and I am happy that I successfully defended the title that I won two years ago," said Kiprop.
If there was any disappointment, it was that Kenya, who had three runners in the race, did not secure another position on the podium.
Third went to South African Johan Cronje, with Chepseba fading to fourth. Highly-rated Kenyan Silas Kiplagat, who was second to Kiprop at the 2011 World Championships, was even further adrift and finished sixth.
"I am very sad," said Kiprop about his compatriots' finish. "We had a plan but I am very sorry it did not work.
"Chepseba was supposed to do the first round (lap) and I was to do the next round, but I decided to take on (the lead)."
Instead, Chepseba took over in the second 400m, opening up an advantage of more than 10 metres at one point.
"I wasn't surprised," said Kiprop. "I wanted him to go so he could open a big gap so when it comes to kick, we could be in a safe position."
Awarded the gold medal from the 2008 Olympic Games, after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi was disqualified following a drugs test, Kiprop finished fourth at the 2009 World Championships just as he had in 2007, his breakthrough season.
The son of former well-known middle distance runner David Kebeni, he had started running at the age of 13, and he claimed gold in the junior race at the 2007 IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
More gold followed in the 1500m at the 2007 All Africa Games, the 2010 African Championships and the 2011 IAAF World Championships.
This season, he has won six out of this seven competitions over 1500m, but never did the 1.88m tall athlete have a race like he did in Monaco last month.
Kiprop, in a thrilling race with Great Britain’s Mo Farah, blazed to the fourth-fastest 1500m ever, 3:27.72, with Farah claiming the European record after coming home in 3:28.81.
If his rivals think that might have been his maximum, Kiprop had a warning on Sunday.
"I am looking forward to running faster next season," he said, clearly eying Hicham El Guerrouj’s World record of 3:26.00 which has stood to the Moroccan great since 1998.
Gene Cherry for the IAAF