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Humbled Kiplagat hungers London bliss

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 3- For the past two seasons, men 1500m Commonwealth champion and Worlds silver medallist, Silas Kiplagat, has enhanced his reputation as one of the most cocky and vocally abrasive show ponies on the distance running circuit.

But now that has been shed aside as he focuses on making a maiden Olympics bow in London with the knowledge of the tough task he faces even to get there in the first place.

On Thursday during the first day of the Kenya Prisons Championships, Kiplagat cut the figure of a modest man after his bold prediction of bagging the world title last year in Daegu was nipped in the bud by the charged Olympics crown holder, Asbel Kiprop.

“Next week will determine what I have done from Daegu until now because that will be my first Diamond League in Doha. I decided to run 800m today to test my speed and endurance,” Kiplagat told Capital Sport after blowing the field apart in the men two-lap heats to stop the clock at 1:47.1, the fastest mark of the day by a country mile.

As he prepares to open his international circuit account in his speciality next week in Qatar, Kiplagat has learned valuable lesson from being forced to eat a huge slice of humble pie by his arch rival in Korea despite heading to the Worlds as the soil record holder.

“I wish to be in the London team but I will not underrate my colleagues, saying this one is not strong or this guy is strong.

“Everyone is strong like you can see the team for marathoners, the world record holder (Patrick) Makau was given a wildcard but he is now not in the team. I cannot say that I’m the best, I’m not the best, there are emerging athletes,” the Delhi champion added.

While disclosing he would only take part in two Diamond League events, Doha and Eugene before the Trials, Kiplagat has altered his pre-season routine to adopt the 800m as part of his build-up.

“I learned my lessons from Daegu and that is why I have raced 800m in Kitale, Mumias and today I decided to run the same here.

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“It would be very painful to miss the Olympics after what happened in Korea but I have high hopes. I will tell my coach to help me to be in the team, to be selected in June to represent Kenya in my first Olympics,” the athlete who shot to fame with the 3:39.27 world lead in Monaco in 2010 explained.

Kiplagat is also not keen on lowering his lifetime best from 2010 this season as he plots to fulfil his London aspirations by being at the middle of the podium in the summer.

“The most important thing is to qualify for the Olympics. Times are something you can plan for even three days and do your best. Being in the Olympics has been a chorus among the athletes and everyone is talking about being there so I can say my agenda is first of all to be selected for the Olympics and then maybe, I can think of times.”

Kiplagat is training under retired three-time world steeplechase champion, Moses Kiptanui, the man credited with injecting the cockiness into his craft. Among his training partners is the Athens Olympics and two-time world steeplechase titleholder, Ezekiel Kemboi.

His 3:31.39 ran while winning last year’s Kenyan Trials for Daegu in attitude accounted for the soil record where he beat Kiprop to second in 3:32.26 before the Olympic champion turned the tables at the Worlds.

Asked whether his seamless victory in the Prisons meet heats where he tore away from his rivals to win by over 60m in the shorter race was an indication of what he was preparing to unleash this season, the Delhi champion was coy about the marker he had laid.

“I do not want to underrate anyone,” was his terse reply as he retreated to warm down and prepare for the Friday final.

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