Kiprop leads Kenya's assault in men's 1,500m final

Sunday August 13 2017

From left: Kenya's Asbel Kiprop, Kenya's Elijah Motonei Manangoi and Norway's Filip Ingebrigtsen cross the finish line in the semi-final of the men's 1500m at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 11, 2017. PHOTO | JEWEL SAMAD |

From left: Kenya's Asbel Kiprop, Kenya's Elijah Motonei Manangoi and Norway's Filip Ingebrigtsen cross the finish line in the semi-final of the men's 1500m at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 11, 2017. PHOTO | JEWEL SAMAD |  AFP

By AYUMBA AYODI
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IN LONDON

The Kenyan 1,500 metres trio - led by defending champion Asbel Kiprop – is targeting a possible podium sweep on Sunday night but remain cautious ahead of the final.

Kiprop, who is targeting a fourth successive title, on Saturday said a fast race will favour him, Elijah Manangoi, who hopes to upgrade his silver medal from the 2015 championships in Beijing, and Timothy Cheruiyot, although they are prepared for any pace in the final.

Kiprop seems to have regained his form as he looked comfortable in his first round and semi-final races, finishing second behind Manangoi after rallying from the back of the pack in his trademark fashion.

The lanky star cautioned that a slow pace could play to their rival’s advantage, saying he prefers a faster race.

“As I said earlier, this will be a highly technical and tactical race,” Kiprop said.

“However, we must take control of the race and accelerate at 3:30.00 if we are to have a chance of sweeping all the places but anything above that will make things tricky.”

Kiprop was affirmative that he has picked form at the right time, having put behind his lukewarm show in the Diamond League.

“I like running from behind but I will consult with my colleagues to see what will suit us in the final. I‘m here not to add up the numbers but to defend my title,” said Kiprop.

“However, I won’t feel bad if any of us wins because we are equally strong.”

Kiprop, who is seeking to equal world record-holder Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj’s record of four wins, finished 13th and last, losing his Bowerman Mile to title to Ronald Kwemoi, finished fourth in the 1,500m in the Stockholm Diamond League before coming in fourth in the 800m race in London. He failed to finish his race during the world trials.

“I have put that behind and I am the final glad to be in final. I am eying a podium finish and perhaps to defend my title,” said Kiprop.

Manangoi said he has his options open, adding that he will handle his opposition basing on how they will react.

“I am comfortable with any pace, be it fast or slow but I love team work,” said Manangoi.

“I will listen to my colleagues and adopt any style. This is a championships and we must be careful on what our rivals might be planning. We must avoid disappointment,” said Manangoi in reference to the women’s 3,000m steeplechase in which Kenya lost to USA on Friday night.

Manangoi won in Doha and Monaco in the world lead of 3:28.80 in the latter race in the Diamond League series.

Manangoi, who hopes to put behind the Rio Olympics disappointment where an injury locked him out of the final, cautioned about the threat from 2008 Beijing Olympics silver and Rio Olympics bronze medallist Nick Willis from New Zealand.

Cheruiyot, who won in Stockholm but finished second behind Manangoi in Monaco, is optimistic of a good show.

“I like running from the front and that won’t change in the final,” said Cheruiyot, who is targeting a podium finish to remedy the 2015 Beijing where he finished seventh in the final.

Team Kenya middle distance coach Bernard Ouma said a pace of 3:32 should deliver a sweep for Kenya.

“I am glad Kiprop has regained his confidence. Their unity is unbelievable since they have been using the same programme,” said Ouma.

“We can only pray for them.”