Asbel Kiprop is optimistic Kenya will win its first 1,500m gold at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, later this month.
He has finished fourth twice, at the 2007 and 2009 World Championships, largely due to his poor calculations – his ‘behind-the-pack’ running style.
Asbel, who is also the 2007 World Cross-Country junior champion, will be keen not to repeat his mistakes that cost him the gold in the Osaka and Berlin Worlds.
He will now team up with the Commonwealth Games 1,500m champion Silas Kiplagat and former World Indoor 1,500m silver medalist, Daniel Kipchirchir Kebenei, in the hunt for gold.
Asbel, who finished second behind Kiplagat at the national trials a fortnight ago, said Kenya must win the 1,500m gold at the Worlds this time round.
“Our team is okay. We only need teamwork to be certain of medals. With experienced runners (Silas) Kiplagat and Daniel (Komen), who have showed their might in the world 1,500m rankings, we will not miss the gold,” Asbel told the Nation on Wednesday.
“We hope to bring home the gold medal. We should now target to sail through the semi-finals and, hopefully, this will be Kenya’s maiden 1,500m gold medal at the World Championships,” he said. “I want the gold medal and if the World Championships 1,500m final is a nightmare, silver will be a disappointment for us.”
The lanky athlete stands among Kenya’s 1,500m world greats, who have recorded impressive performances in 1,500m at the Olympics though little showing at the Worlds.
Gold medallists Kipchoge Keino (Mexico 1968), Peter Rono (Seoul 1988) and Noah Ngeny (Sydney 2000) are the legendary runners who stamped Kenya’s authority in the four-lap race at the Games.
Asbel expects stiff opposition from Kenyan-born American Bernard Lagat, Mehdi Baalla (France), Amin Laalou (Morocco) and the World Indoor champion, Deresse Mekonen of Ethiopia. Lagat
Asbel expects stiff opposition from Kenyan-born American and world silver medalist Bernard Lagat, Mehdi Baalla (France), Africa 1,500m silver medalist Amin Laalou (Morocco), and Belal Masoor of Bahrain.
“We only need to be wary of Lagat and Laalou,” Asbel said.
Asbel, an Arsenal Football team fan in the English Premier League side, said he has a wide experience in the international which could propel him to victory in Daegu.
“I have raced against nearly all the 1,500m world’s best and expect to do my best. I have also picked more experience from the Diamond League and I will change tact in my running,” said Asbel. But he declined to reveal the running tact. “That is between me and our coaches.”
On why he banked on his trademark behind-the-pack tactic, Asbel said he believed most 1,500m runners have strong 200-metre finish kicks, therefore making it necessary to study their moves from the back but unfortunately it has not worked to his advantage.