NAIROBI, April 14- Olympics 2008 Asbel Kiprop is keen on moving a step closer to his idol, retired Moroccan legend, Hicham El Guerrouj by holding on to his world men 1500m title in Beijing this summer to complete his hat-trick.
Kiprop’s preparations for a bid for a third straight Metric Mile crown following his victories at the 2011 and 13 editions of the biennial IAAF track and field signature events in Daegu and Moscow were thrown to a spin on Monday when Athletics Kenya (AK) suspended his Rosa Associati management for six months.
Despite the setback, Kiprop who started training in earnest in December travelled to Nairobi on Tuesday to join his teammates for the IAAF Bahamas World Relays where he will feature in the medley.
Should he hold on to his crown at the iconic Bird’s Nest the lanky 25 year-old will equal retired Algerian great, Noureddine Morceli and move one closer to all time record winner El Guerrouj on four.
The Kenya Police athlete intends to use the second edition of the World Relays as part of his speed work training ahead of the international circuit where he will start at the opening IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha.
“My first priority is winning the world title for a third time in a row. I will be so proud if I achieve it. Running in Relays is part of training and gauging my speed work and that’s why I prefer to take 800m in the medley relay.
“After Bahamas I will run few Diamond League (DL) races before focusing on National Trials,” Kiprop who ran the second leg of 800m of the men medley final at the AK National Trials held at Kasarani Stadium asserted.
The Beijing National Stadium evokes bitter-sweet memories for Kiprop who was beaten to the finish by convicted drug cheat, Rashid Ramzi at 2008 Olympics final before he was awarded the medal three years later in Nairobi after the Bahraini tested positive for doping.
“I believe this is my time to get honours in Beijing that were taken away at Olympics. The last one month before the event I will train very hard to make sure I’m ready, if I win it for a third time it will take time before another Kenyan repeats my performance,” the only male Kenyan athlete to own the Metric Mile world title stated.
Rosa Associati and Volare Sports were banned for six months by the national federation to facilitate investigations on doping violations in what Kiprop said would only serve to punish majority of elite athletes who run clean for the mistakes of a few.
Kiprop and the rest of Rosa camp are waiting for the federation to provide them with a new manager in the interim to ensure their season is not disrupted besides carrying the doping stigma in a country reeling from a spike in drug cheating.
World junior 1500m record holder, Ronald Kwemoi however, is ready to give his more illustrious compatriot a run for his money as he seeks to mark his graduation to senior ranks emphatically.
“I’m preparing for World Championships where I intend to carry on my junior good performance if I make to the team because I have grown enough to compete in seniors.
“I will run in two DL races so that I can give myself ample time to prepare for Beijing,” Japan based Kwemoi who will team up with Kiprop in Bahamas relays declared.
Kiprop who anchored Kenya’s quartet team of Daegu World Championships silver medallist, Silas Kiplagat, Commonwealth title holder, James Magut and Collins Cheboi to the 4x1500m world record returns to Bahamas to compete in the newly introduced medley.
The medley relay that replaced 4x1500m for both men and women, is made up of a 1200m leg (three laps); 400m (one lap); 800m (two laps) and a 1600 m (four laps) in that order.
Abednego Chesebe and Nicholas Bett will team up with Kiprop and Kwemoi as Kenya seeks to win first gold in the newly introduced category.
The team 30 athletes who will represent the country in the biannual event reported to residential training camp at Kasarani Stadium on Monday under the tutelage of seasoned coach Sammy Rono.