Men's 1500m Heats - IAAF World Championships
Provided by IAAF
Being drawn in the last heat of a middle-distance event at a major championships often presents the athletes with a sizeable advantage and so it proved tonight with eleven athletes qualifying from the third heat thanks in no small part to Kalle Berglund from Sweden assuming the unofficial role of pacemaker.
The winning time was by no means fast but Australia’s Luke Mathews stopped the clock at 3:38.19 ahead of Timothy Cheruiyot – one of four Kenyans to reach the semifinals – in 3:38.41. He was closely followed home by European champion Filip Ingebrigtsen from Norway (3:38.46) and Great Britain’s Jake Wightman (3:38.50), whose father Geoff is one of the in-stadium announcers. Berglund dropped back to ninth but still qualified on time with 3:39.62.
The first heat drew together world leader Elijah Manangoi along with defending world champion Asbel Kiprop and USA’s Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz. The Kenyans navigated their way through a potentially tricky first-round heat, qualifying first and second in that order – 3:45.93 and 3:45.96 – but Centrowitz was clearly lacking form and trailed in last in 3:48.34.
Centrowitz has endured an injury and illness-plagued build-up to the championships but the 27-year-old was still touted as a medal candidate as he is renowned for being one of the most tactically astute racers.
"I've given enough excuses so far but after the US nationals, I've had some injuries,” said Centrowitz. “All athletes go through them. I've just had more than I usually do in one season. My fitness clearly isn't where I'd like it to be. I didn't feel like I could get any more than a couple of weeks of good, healthy training in. I suppose I'm more relieved than frustrated because now I can focus on getting better results in the future.”
There was very nearly another surprise in the second heat. Ronald Kwemoi hobbled off the track at last month’s IAAF Diamond League meeting and, on the evidence of tonight, he is far from the shape which saw him clock 3:30.89 at altitude to win the Kenyan Championships.
Finishing seventh in 3:43.10, Kwemoi only made it through as the sixth non-automatic qualifier and he looked destined to miss out altogether until the Netherlands’ Richard Douma fell ahead of him in the home straight after clipping the heels of Uganda’s Ronald Musagala. Bahrain's Sadik Mikhou won that heat in 3:42.12, while Douma was advanced after an appeal.
Other noteworthy non-qualifiers from a ponderous first heat included 2014 European champion Mahiedine Mekhissi from France and 2014 world indoor champion Ayanleh Souleiman from Djibouti, who finished seventh (3:46.17) and 10th (3:46.64) respectively.
Steven Mills for the IAAF