NAIROBI, Kenya, August 3- The men 1500m ended in controversy when Diamond League winner and medal favourite, Nixon Chepseba, was reinstated to the semifinals on appeal following a trip by American Matthew Centrowitz on Thursday night.
The number three runner in the world this year was well on course for qualifying for the semis until the incident 300m from the finish when he tumbled after being spiked by the American as he tried to wriggle away and charge for the homestretch.
Team Kenya officials launched an immediate appeal and after a review of the footage, it was ruled his progress was un-sportingly impeded and he was restored to the semis after his Olympics dream appeared buried with a ninth finish in the third and final heat.
“I can confirm for sure and with great joy that the judges have reinstated him to the semi finals. He was crushed after the race but I hope this decision will give him the chance to show what he can achieve since he is very talented,” Joseph Kinyua, Team Kenya athletics manager told Capital Sport on phone from London.
Official communication sent from IAAF said, “The Kenya Team made an oral protest with the Referee after Heat 3 of the Men’s 1500m.
“The Referee, considering that athlete Nixon Kiplimo Chepseba (bib number 2295) had been seriously disadvantaged and decided to advance him to the semi-final as an additional athlete.”
Chepseba, 21, almost saw his Olympics debut collapse in the most cruel of fashion having broken to the national team for London 2012 after just missing out of last year’s Worlds when his mother passed two weeks to the Trials.
The athlete who ran a huge career best of 3:29.77 in Monaco last month was well in control of the third heat from the gun before he was swallowed into the pack at the bell.
He led the runners through 400m in 59.51 and 2:03.50 at two-laps but as they came to the middle of the back straight, the Diamond League champion stretched his legs as he tried to build up speed as they came for the penultimate bend but he was knocked off his stride and television replays appeared to show his rhythm was impeded by Centrowitz.
He arrived at the line in 3:42.29 in the race won by Olympics silver medallist, New Zealand’s Nick Willis who clocked 3:40.92 as Centrowitz timed 3:41.39 for fifth to book his semi-final berth.
Chepseba’s drama summed a less than convincing display for Kenya’s seeded Metric Mile line-up led by the titleholder Asbel Kiprop as well as Commonwealth champion, Silas Kiplagat who squeezed through to Sunday’s races.
World champion and leader Kiprop (3:36.59) was led to the line by Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi (3:35.15) and Ethiopia’s Mekonnen Gebremedhin (3:36.56) but he looked comfortable in the first hurdle to his bid to become the first man to defend the men 1500m Olympics title.
Worlds silver winner Kiplagat toyed with his Olympics medal chances after getting boxed in the pack before he managed to eke out a fourth finish in 3:39.79 in a performance that will not stir the competition hoping to upstage the Kenyan favourites.