Centro and Robby Give us hope in World Indoor 1,500 meters, by Elliott Denman


Centrowitz_Matt1-Stockholm15.jpgMatt Centrowtiz, photo by PhotoRun.net

Andrews_Robbie1b-Armory16.jpgRobbie Andrews, photo by PhotoRun.net

The men's 1,500 meters on Saturday night, March 13, rocked the OCC with the recognition of the inch by inch battle between Matt Centrowitz and Robbie Andrews. It was the first time I have seen Robbie get in front of Centrowitz.

It was athletics version of Raging Bull. Two milers putting it all on the line, down the final stretch, and neither would give up.

In this column, Elliott Denman opines that Centro and Robby are ready to do something really exciting in front of our home crowd this coming weekend.

Can the U.S. get a medal, or, dare we say it, win the men's 1,500 meters?

Stay tuned, sports fans.

PORTLAND - In a sport full of astounding stats, here's one as good as any:
The 11 fastest 1500-meter times of the 2016 indoor season were all run on Saturday, February 20th. In three races on three continents.
How's that?
Here's how:
As Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco (3:34.94) was beating Djibouti's Ayanlew Souleiman (3:36.30) and Bethwell Birgen (3:37.55) and Vincent Kibet (3:37.55, too), both of Kenya, at the Emirates Arena
In Glasgow, Scotland,
AmericanMatthew Centrowitz (3:35.91) was outkicking Nick Willis of
New Zealand (3:36.12) and American Cory Leslie (3:37.67) in the NYRR Millrose Games at New York's Armory Track Center,
Mohamad Al-Garni of Qatar (3:36.35) was outrunning Benson Seurei of Bahrain (3:37.08) and fellow Qataris Said Aden Said (3:37.29) and Musaab Adam Ali (3:37.29) at the Aspire Dome in Doha.
All within a few hours, give or take a bunch of time zones.
And these are very good numbers- 11 men, of seven nations, just 2.73 seconds apart - to review now that the world athletics spotlight is set to shine - despite days of rain out here - on the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. of A.
The best of these global guys will be flying into PDX (Portland International Airport) the next few days to
have it out in the 1500-meter final of the IAAF World Indoor Championships and it already
has the sport's cognescenti rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of something truly sensational transpiring.
Don't expect the world 1500 record - Hicham El-Guerrouj's 3:31.18 for Morocco dating back to 1997 - to fall.
Or even to be threatened. World records never go in championship races these days.
They're only seen in set-up, rabbitted, invitationals.
But expect one tremendous rouser of a seven-and-a-half lap footrace.
Say like seven guys barreling around the final bend of the emerald-green Portland Convention Center 200-oval just a stride or two apart, after a moderate early pace, and the eventual winner any one of them.
Unlikely. You may ask, but don't count it out, either.
A precedent, you see, has already been set. The men's 1500-meter final at the USA National Championships was a slow-paced, fast-closing sizzler whose 1-2 place winners were not decided until the final strides.
It took 26-second-ish final laps by Matthew Centrowitz and Robby Andrews to really open any distance on their pursuers. And even then the result was never clear.
Andrews seemed to edge ahead coming off the bend. Centro -
who hasn't lost a major race since the 2015 World Outdoor Championship 1500 in Beijing - seemed to regain the lead
for a stride or two.
Andrews seemed to seize it right back. And Centro wound up
winning it by all of 7 100ths of a second - 3:44.43 to 3:44.40.
Forget that those times are pedestrian. Nowhere close to Bernard Lagat's American record (3:33.34 in 2005.) Or even Rob Myers' meet record (3:40.80 in 2004.)
They got the job done, they got the crowd on its feet, and not until the re-runs were shown on the big scereens at either end of the Convention Center were most of the crowd of 5,244 finally convinced that Centro had won it.
Ben Blankenship (3:45.40) and Garrett Heath (3:46.67) simply couldn't muster the all-out sprints to handle Centro or Robby and wound up 3-4.
So now it's back to the drawing board and onto the Indoor Worlds.
The World Championship 1500 final could easily turn into something very-very similar
And the crowd - reportedly a 7,000-seat-plus sellout already - would surely relish it.
Specially so if one of the Americans got to the wire ahead of the prides of Morocco, Djibouti, Kenya, New Zealand, Qatar, Bahrain and everywhere else.
No American runner has ever claimed the gold in the World Indoor 1500 meters.
So might this be the year?
Well, why the heck not?
Centrowitz and Andrews are in best shape of their lives and clearly ready for something extraordinary.
"I'm really, really happy with my strength right now," said Centro. "I didn't really know I had another move left(to hold off Andrews ) until I did it. With 20 meters to go, both of us had pretty much showed all of our cards.
"But once Robby (the final time) edged by me, I just told myself, 'come on,man I've got to ind a way to continue this unbeaten streak.
"I just knew I had to dig in, so I did."
"Matt just had a little bit more saved up," said Andrews. "He knew exactly what he was doing."
For Andrews, it was an important lesson learned, another step in the process that's seen him progress from schoolboy record-breaker, to NCAA champion, to rising young veteran of the international circuit.
Moral of the story: With wisening and still-rising talents like Centro and Andrews in the USA 1500-meter lineup, the home team's going to have a lot to cheer for on the World stage.
And with this World Indoor meet coming to the U.S. for the first time since the Indianapolis edition in 1987, it's about time.

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