Here is another piece from our columnist from Eldoret, Justin Lagat. Justin has written a nice piece about who to consider in the 1,500 meters, which will be held tonight, August 7, 2012. He considers who Asbel Kiprop, the man who has won the Olympic title, the World Champs titles and now wants another Olympic title.
HOW HIGH ARE THE STAKES FOR ASBEL KIPROP?
Watching the semifinals of the men’s 1500m Olympic event, it looks like it won’t be a walk in the park for the defending champion, Asbel Kiprop, in winning it – if he will. If I were his coach, this is the only advice I would give to him before the finals of the event on Tuesday evening: In the last two hundred meters, if you are not already at the front, never use lane one!
He is such an amazing athlete, always in control and seeming at ease in his races till towards the homestretch, when other athletes could lock him in the first lane where he would have a hard time trying to either come out of it or push through the athletes ahead of him in order to maximize his finishing kicks.
Kiprop, who is also the reigning World Champion, has a good chance of making a huge landmark on his running career by winning in these Games. So far, the chairman of the Olympic Organizing Committee, Sebastian Coe, is the only man in history to have ever won two consecutive Olympic titles in this event, and Kiprop will be seeking to emulate him. Given his season’s best of 3:28:88, and the PBs of the athletes who are going to run alongside him, there is a possibility that the Olympic record of 3:32:07 may well be broken.
Silas Kiplagat, the Common Wealth Champion, has been the one athlete who has recently been giving strong competition to Asbel. He won at the Kenyan national trials in June where Nixon Chepseba was second, and Asbel was third. He is the man who is seen by many as having the potential to snatch the Gold from his countryman. He has a season’s best of 3:29:63, which he ran in May at the Doha Samsung Diamond League, and was able to outrun Kiprop in that race.
Based on his amazing performance at last year’s World Championships, where he surged towards the finish running past four athletes within the last one hundred meters to clinch a bronze medal, some people had thought that Mathew Centrowitz of USA was the man to finally break the more than 24 year dominance of the event by African athletes, but then Nicholas Willis of New Zealand now appears more suited for the challenge. Willis won silver at the Beijing Olympics and was recently reported to have said that he is now in a better form than he was in Beijing. The New Zealand’s team captain, who likes running in front, has a remarkable time of 3:30:35, and a lot of experience in championship events to go with that.
Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco, the world indoor champion, will also be the athlete to watch in the finals; many are making predictions that he is not likely to miss out in the top three. Other strong medal contenders include: Taufik makhloufi (ALG) with season’s best of 3:30:80, Nixon Chepseba (KEN) with 3:29:77, Kenyan born, Ilham Tanui Ozbilen (TUR) with 3:31:37 and Mekonnen Gebremidhin (ETH) with 3:31:45.
I am not going to make a personal prediction this time round because I did that for the men’s 10,000m a couple of days ago, basing it on the season’s best times the athletes had run, but Mo Farah of Great Britain proved me wrong at the end. This time, no one is going to know the athlete I am rooting for. I am just going to sit silently at a corner in one of the social places here in Eldoret and watch the finals of this event. That way, when my athlete will lose, no one will tell me, “I told you” at the end of the race. Besides, I will also be able to change my mind to suit the turn of events during the race and support another athlete without being branded a turncoat.