NAIROBI, Kenya, July 26 – World silver medallist Elijah Manang’oi is confident his recent superb form will stand him in good stead for a shot at a 1500m Olympic medal.
The 23-year-old has played second fiddle to three-time world champion Asbel Kiprop in several races and says he has picked experience from the 2008 Beijing Olympic champion that will inspire him to a podium finish in Rio.
Manang’oi had his breakthrough at the 2015 IAAF Beijing World Championships where he bagged silver, his first international medal and since then, the National Police Service athlete has never disappointed as he gradually grows his profile following in the footsteps of Kiprop.
He is so far having a smooth season where he has competed in five Diamond League races and after finishing second behind Kiprop at the Kenyan Olympics Trials in Eldoret, Manang’oi is upbeat he will be at the podium on his maiden Olympics in Rio.
“My pressure was to be in the team for Olympics and not to beat Asbel (Kiprop). I am not in a hurry to beat this man but it’s very possible to beat him but let’s wait for the right time to come. I am looking forward for the podium finish in Rio and we pray for the best,” Manang’oi who competed in 400m at the 2013 Kenyan Trials declared.
Manang’oi, who comes from Kilgoris, the same town where 800m world record-holder David Rudisha hails, is the third fastest 1500m runner this season, after setting a season best of 3:31.19 in Monaco where he finished second behind compatriot Ronald Kwemoi (3:30.49) in a race where Kiprop faded to sixth.
He launched his season with a second finish in Doha Diamond League, returning 3:33.67 behind Kiprop who cruised to a World Lead of 3:32.15.
The lanky athlete finished third in 3:52.39 in his maiden appearance at the Bowerman Mile in Eugene before improving his time at Rome where he registered his first win of the season in the absence of Kiprop by clocking 3:33.96.
In Oslo, he faced Kiprop and once again he was unable to beat him as he settled for second in 3:52.04.
With regular Silas Kiplagat failing to make team for the Rio Olympics, Manang’oi is confident he can be a medal contender at the Rio Olympics as Kenya looks to bring home a fifth Olympics gold medal in men’s 1500m since legendary Dr Kipchoge Keino won the country’s first title at the 1968 Mexico Games.
The Kenyan team that also include Kiprop, the fastest athlete this season and Ronald Kwemoi, will face stiff challenge from reigning Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria and world bronze medallist Abdalaati Iguider from Morocco.
The men’s 1500m heats will be held August 18 with the final set for Saturday, August 20.