BERLIN, August 15 – The quest to end Kenya’s search for a first 1500 metres world title started in brisk fashion on Saturday with all Kenyans making it into the semifinals.
Olympic silver medallist Asbel Kiprop, Africa champion Haron Keitany and world leader Augustine Choge effortlessly cruised into the next round.
Twenty year old Kiprop is the huge favourite and he justified that tag with an easy win in heat two. Kiprop hang at the back of the pack for most of the race before shifting through the gears in the last 150 metres.
“It was a fantastic. To qualify for the final is a great challenge for me in the semifinals. Am absolutely looking forward to the semis,” said Kiprop.
The second heat went according the formbook with the world’s fastest man in the distance this year Choge cruising to victory in 3:44.73.
“There was a lot of tension because it was the first one and I thank God I made it. I know the semis will be tough,” said Choge.
“I am in good form but I know that it does not matter in championships. There is no pacemaker so its about how you control your race and strength.”
“Am not always patient in championships pushing too much but the coaches told me to take it easy and trust my kick,” he added.
Keitany came through in the quickest of the heats in 3:37.13.
“Because of lack of pacemakers, the race was slow and that is why I went infront and tried to push the pace. I wanted it faster because in a slow race anything can happen,” said the 25 year old.
He also revealed that a hamstring niggle that has refused to go away is holding up.
“My hamstring is holding on. It’s not too bad. If its stays like this, I will be in place to get something good.”
Reigning World champion Bernard Lagat who finished second in Kiprop’s heat heat was delighted with the form of the Kenyan boys.
“It makes me absolutely proud. Kenya is my roots that is where I came from therefore seeing guys like Choge is unbelievable and this is what I like to see about my home country,” said the Kenyan born American.
He added that he was under no pressure to defend his title especially after a dismal 2008.
“There is no pressure. I know what happened in 2008, I was not in good shape because I got injured three weeks to the games and its really hard when you are at 75 percent and everyone else is at 100 percent,” said Lagat.
“I have been training well, I feel great and am in really great shape but anything can happen so all I have been working hard so I just go out there do my best and so help me God,” he added.