The Olympic 1,500 meters is one of the most grueling events in sport. With two rounds before the final, all over five days, the event is not for the faint hearted. Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain felt he had something to make up for in his career-his exit in the semi finals in Athens. His double win in Helsinki did not clear it up and his rough 1,500 meters in Osaka only made his more resolved….
Asbel Kipruoto Kiprop took out the field in 56.48 for the 400 meters. Augustine Kiprono Choge of Kenya took the field through 1:56.06 with the crowd menacing on his back. KIpruto, Mehdi Baala of France, Juan Carlos Higuero of Spain, Adbalaati Iguider of Morocco, and Andy Baddeley of Great Britain were all there as Choge hit the
1,200 meters in 2:53.67.
It should be noted that Choge increased the pace at the bell, hit in 2:42 and that Balia Mansoor Ali, who had tried to move, nearly stumbled there. The pack was thick and the tension was created by an Olympic final. All finalists had their reputations on the line.
Staying out of trouble, but in the pack was Nick Willis of New Zealand. Willis had had a maddening year, with injuries, a tough disqualification in World Indoor, where he should have medalled but was called in a race that was much too physical.
As Willis menaced, Rashid Ramzi blasted by all on the outside, starting his sprint at the 300 meter mark. Ramzi, teeth clenched, arms pumping, did not stop until he had given Bahrain its first Olympic gold medal in track & field! Running 3:32.94 ( not as fast as his first round), Ramzi gave his country their first gold medal.
Trying to run Ramzi down, Asbel Kipruto KIprop of Kenya made a dash with sixty meters to go, but was short, taking the silver in 3:33.11.
Now the race got interesting as there were eight guys fighting for the bronze medal.
Juan Carlos Higuero of Spain, Addaalati Iguider of Morocco, Juan Van Deventer of South Africa, Belai Mansoor Ali were all there. But it was Nick Willis, who timed his final sprint until once he hit the final straightaway, he pounced, running hard to the finish, running 3:34.16, taking the bronze. And push to the finish he did, as Baala of France finished in 3:34.21 for fourth, Higuero of Spain was fifth in 3:34.44, Iguider of Morocco was sixth in 3:34.66. In seventh, Juan Van Deventer of South Africa ran 3:35.23, and in eighth, Ali Belai Mansoor of Bahrain ran 3:35.37 with Andy Baddeley of Great Britain running 3:35.50. Augustine Choge of Kenya finished in tenth in 3:37.68.
For Nick Willis of New Zealand, it was a wonderful story book ending to a crazy year. In the World Indoor, Willis looked to be a medalist but was disqualified for running too physically in my mind. Willis kept his cool around the final bend, and made his moved down the straight and fought off Mehdi Baala’s last minute push for the bronze, holding on in the Olympic final! Nice run for Mr. Willis!
Willis, a Michigan grad, races in the US alot and is quite popular in the States. Coached by Ron Warhurst, a man who knows how to take young milers and make them world class, Willis is shown below with his coach, his fiance and his national colors! Congrats to all!
Nick Willis and his coach, Ron Warhurst
Nick and Fiance, and Coach