NAIROBI, September 12- After two-time world champion, Asbel Kiprop’s much-publicised men 1,500m world record bid spectacularly bombed at the hands of his fiercest domestic rival Silas Kiplagat, and his immediate redemption lies in clinching a maiden IAAF Continental Championships in Marrakech, Morocco.
The 25 year-old Kenyan, who has established himself over the last seven years as a confident competitor, had his pride further wounded when he was forced to accept silver at the African Championships in the same Moroccan resort by Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman stunning victory.
Having begun the season like a house on fire, Kiprop’s summer collapse has confounded many but he is no stranger in bouncing back from setbacks.
After famously trailing the field at the London 2012 Olympics to take an embarrassing wooden spoon in his title defence due to a hamstring injury, the lanky Kenyan redeemed his standing by holding on to his world title in Moscow the following season.
The two-time world champion has enjoyed contrasting fortunes in 2014 as he attempted to take the next scalp in his reincarnation as retired Moroccan great, Hicham El Guerrouj, and claim the World Record.
“We do not have major championships this year and my aim is to run under my personal best and do a 3:26. I will not consider Commonwealth Games since I want to give young runners a chance to go to Scotland and feel how it is to win a medal for Kenya,” he said in March during the build-up to the inaugural World Relays in Bahamas.
As fate would have it, he made the team alongside his arch rival Kiplagat as Collins Magut and James Magut completed the Kenyan quartet that went on to set a new World Record in the 4X1500m final after stopping the clock at 14:22.22 in May.
The quartet lowered the previous standard by 14 seconds, with the world champion taking the baton from Magut in a stuttering change over for the last leg but once he got going, he took the bell at 13:26.00 and closed in 56.22 to set the world record.
Unchallenged, it wasn’t even the quickest lap of the record as Kiplagat’s first full lap of 53.50 took that honour.
He launched his DL campaign emphatically shortly after, establishing a World Leading 3:29.18 in May but failed to hit the high notes at the following events in Eugene and Rome.
Having announced he would not be interested in the Commonwealth Games, “To give other young runners a chance to experience how it feels to win for Kenya,” Kiprop dropped out of the Trials for Glasgow Club Games but was give outside selection to the African showpiece.
Attention turned to his record bid at the Herculis Meeting in Monaco. But on a magical July night, his mission failed with all the glory stolen on the day by the old enemy Kiplagat; who soared to his 3:27.64 lifetime best and world lead, overtaking his nemesis on the all time list to No. 4.
For the Kiprop, who finished in a season’s best of 3:28.45, it was a huge anti-climax after he had prepared for a supposed attempt on El Guerrouj’s 16-year-old world record of 3:26.00 by setting the fastest 800m time of the year, 1:43.34, at the DL meeting in Paris earlier in the month.
“At 1200m I knew the race was too slow,” the two-time World champion said. “We went through in 2:47 and I had asked for 2:45. In the home straight, I could see the others behind me on the big screen and I knew they would get back on me. I could see Silas coming closer and closer. It was a tough race.”
Souleiman (3:42.49) then produced another shocking victory over Kiprop to deny him a second African title after his home triumph in 2010 as he came home in 3:42.58 for silver but the performance was enough to earn his berth at the Continental Cup line-up.
There, more redemption awaits.