SOPOT, Poland, March 8- Bethwell Birgen, the number 3 runner (3:35.3) this season failed to translate his circuit form to the big stage by scooping the wooden spoon in the men 1500m final at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland on Saturday.
Birgen, who is also ranked second in the 3000m (7:37.17) who came at the back of a solid winter in the closed circuit propped the rear in 3:40.66 to leave Kenya without a medal as the second day wrapped up having qualified for the final as one of the fastest losers from Friday’s preliminaries.
Teammate and Commonwealth champion, Silas Kiplagat, surprisingly crashed out during the heats.
Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman won his tiny East African country’s first ever gold medal in a global athletics competition when he sped to victory in 3:37.52.
More than 20 years have elapsed since the marathon silver medals by Ahmed Salah at the 1987 and 1991 World Championships, and he also got a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympic Games.
Souleiman put Djibouti back on the sporting map with his 800m bronze medal at last summer’s World Championships and the Djibouti national anthem rang out across an athletics stadium for the first time at a world championship.
In commanding fashion and showing tactical nous, the 21-year-old Souleiman took the race by the scruff of the neck from the outset, passing 400m in 59.21, 800m in 1:58.96 and he picked up the pace to clock 26.26 between the 1200m and 1400m points before closing with a final 100m in 13.03.
Ethiopia’s Aman Wote collected the silver medal with 3:38.08 to make amends for finishing fourth in the 2012 edition of these championships, having moved into a medal position with just over two laps to go.
Morocco’s Abdalaati Iguider could not retain his 2012 title but took home the bronze medal, coming home in 3:38.21, to add to his London 2012 Olympic Games medal of the same colour.
Turkey’s 2012 runner-up, Ilham Tanui Ozbilen, was this time out of the medals as he placed fourth in 3:39.10.
New Zealand’s 2008 Olympic silver medallist, Nick Willis originally finished fourth but was later disqualified.
Kenya’s hopes for medals lie in the hands of defending women 3000m champion, Hellen Obiri, men 3000m silver medallist, Augustine Choge, Irene Jelagat (women 3000m) and former world junior champion, Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku who will also feature in the men 3000m race.
Viola Kibiwott, who was the lone women 1500 m runner, crashed out of the competition alongside men 800m runner, Jeremiah Mutai on Friday.
RESULTS 1500m final men
1 162 Ayanleh Souleiman DJI 3:37.52
2 184 Aman Wote ETH 3:38.08
3 273 Abdalaati Iguider MAR 3:38.21
4 376 Ilham Tanui Özbilen TUR 3:39.10
5 154 Jakub Holuša CZE 3:39.23
6 400 Will Leer USA 3:39.60
7 220 Homiyu Tesfaye GER 3:39.90
8 263 Bethwell Birgen KEN 3:40.66
298 Nicholas Willis NZLNZL DQ R163.3(b)