NAIROBI, Kenya, May 3- Olympic 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop has stated he will quit the distance if he does not break the sub 3:30 barrier this season.
The metric miler who was elevated to the top medal in Beijing 2008 after winner Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a doping test was outlining his plans for the year ahead of his departure for the opening Samsung Diamond League meet in Doha.
Kiprop will feature in the 800m race that saw the withdrawals of world record holder, David Rudisha and World Indoor champion, Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki on Tuesday.
“My personal best stands at 3:31.20 so, I haven’t done any sub 3:30. This year, I will try and if I don’t do that, I will change my event to 5000m. If I do that, I will continue to defend 1500m,” he said on Tuesday.
The lanky athlete who burst to the scene by winning the All Africa Games gold medal in 2007 hopes to shake off his big competition blues should he make the Daegu Worlds squad.
“This year, we have strong upcoming talents like Silas Kiplagat (number one 2010) and Nickson Chepseba (world leader), so making the team is my first priority.”
Kiprop who won the African and Diamond League titles in his race last season admitted he had failed to perform on the big international stage after winning the Kenyan Trials after collapsing to the huge weight of expectation.
“We go back to 2007 when I won the Trials and everyone hopes were Asbel is gonna win the World Championships in Osaka. Definitely, I did not win since everyone was setting their eyes on me. When it came to the Olympics, I was second at the Trials so I performed well since, there was no pressure.
“Same applies to Berlin, when I won the Trials here, I won no medal. It’s really hard to sustain the pressure from fans when you win here.”
In his fifth season at the high level, Kiprop intends to retain the Diamond Trophy he won last year as the perfect build-up to Daegu beginning with his 800m warm-up in Doha.
“I’m going there to get speed like I did last season. Last year, I did 1:43 in Doha and coming to 1500m, it was a bit easier to race with the guys. Challenging the big 800m runners gives me motivation for my race.”
For Kiprop, emulating his hero, Lord Sebastian Coe who held world records at both 800m and 1500m inspires him to do both races.
“When you go back to early 80s, Coe did 1:41 in 800m and 3:29 in 1500m world records. He is a true middle distance athlete. That is what I want to do but not to break world record in 800m.
“For an athlete to be considered a hero he needs to win titles and set records and that is what I want to do. Should I fail to make the times in 1500m, I may consider the 1500m and 5000m double like (Hicham) El Guerrouj did in Athens 2004 Olympics.”
Kiprop also announced his engagement but declined to disclose the lucky lady and leaves for Doha on Wednesday.