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Chepseba primed for golden touch

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NAIROBI, Kenya, July 26- Having lowered his lifetime best to the sparkling 3:29.77 in Monaco on July 20, his second sub 3:30 performance of the year, young Nixon Chepseba is good enough for men 1500m gold at London 2012.

That is, until you factor he is rated as number three in the Team Kenya metric mile line-up that has defending titleholder, Asbel Kiprop and Commonwealth champion, Silas Kiplagat.

While sealing the first ever podium sweep in the well loved race for Kenya will earn you short odds as far as London 2012 is concerned, Chepseba is silently raring to stun his more illustrious compatriots by pulling the rag under their feet.

Last season, he trumped the pair who had followed each other to gold and silver at the Daegu Worlds in the finals of the Samsung Diamond League trophy and having missed the South Korean party, the Olympics debutant is keen to make up for the disappointment in grand fashion.

“We are going for the 1-2-3 in London and once we are in that position, the place I shall take in the podium is in the hands of God,” the runner who is bristling with quiet confidence charged.

The long-limbed athlete is the youngest member of an imperious trio of Kenyan 1,500m who between them have won every title on offer in the world in the last three years and are firm bet to complete the first ever medal shut-out in the history of race at the Games.

Besides that, compatriot Noah Ngeny’s 3:29.77 championship record deployed at the 2000 edition in Sydney is also well within their sights in an event that will have special bearing on Chepseba.

With the World Championships looming at the turn of 2011, the he strung a series of impressive performances that saw him labelled as one to watch. He won seven straight races including his 3:34.63 indoors season’s best in Dusseldorf as well as the first two Diamond League races in Doha (3:31.84) and Shanghai (3:31.42).

However, tragedy struck when Chepseba lost his mother a fortnight before the Trials for South Korea and the exertions of the grief saw him finish fifth at the selection event.

“I was really in shape in 2011. After I had done my first two Diamond League races, I had a problem. My mother passed away and from there, I was the one preparing the burial for two weeks.

“On my return to Oslo and my shape was down after missing training. It is very hot in Tambach where we live and training was not possible,” he disclosed with pain in his eyes.

Initially, Chepseba was handed wildcard entry to the Worlds but a week later, Athletics Kenya (AK) replaced him with Daniel Kipchirchir Komen with the budding runner prevailed upon to compete at the All Africa Games, an offer he declined.

“I was exhausted when we ran the final and I was disappointed and unfortunately, it was not my time and my time will come. I felt sad after being withdrawn from the team,” he rued.

Instead, the stung runner turned to the Diamond League where a second finish in Monaco (3:31.74/July 22) and sixth in Stockholm (3:35.83) placed him in a three way tie for the crown with Olympics and Worlds titleholder Kiprop and Worlds silver winner Kiplagat ahead of the Zurich final.

A devastating turn of speed 300m metres from the finish that was hammered down the homestretch pulled Chepseba away from his illustrious rivals to deliver a stunning victory and the Diamond Trophy in 3:32.74.

“I wanted to confirm to them I was not left outside because I was not in shape,” the lanky runner thumped.

This season, Chepseba opened his campaign with a number of closed circuit races including wins in Dusseldorf (3:35.53) and Birmingham (3:34.70) before kicking off his outdoor season with a fourth placed finish in his specialty in Doha in 3:31.31.

An 800 metres seasonal best time of 1:48.97 in Ostrava on May 25 followed and two days later, he dipped under the 3:30 minute barrier for the first time as clocked 3:29.90 to win in Hengelo.

At the London Olympics Trial, Chepseba ran from the front and he was rewarded with a second finish that confirmed his place in the Kenyan team with no doubt as he clocked 3:38.0.

Not finished, he turned up for the Monaco leg of the Diamond League on July 20 where the lanky Chepseba further lowered his personal best in Monaco on July 20 clocking 3:29.77 behind the Olympic champion who won in a staggering lifetime best of 3:28.88.

Born on December 12 1990 Chepseba hailed from a family that had 18 siblings.

“My father married three wives and I’m the fourth born to my mother,” the athlete who is married to the 2007 World Cross Championships silver winner Mercy Kosgei and their daughter Bilha joined the family on November 18 last year.

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