RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, Aug 21- Shoving and pushing in the final lap, coupled by a poor tactical execution cost three-time World Champion Asbel Kiprop an unprecedented second Olympic medal as he finished a distant sixth in a race won by American Mathew Centrowitz.
The reigning world indoor champion crossed the line in 3:50.00 after a sprint finish in the final 100m, winning United States’ first gold in the event since Mel Sheppard in the 1908 games in London.
In a hugely pedestrian opening two laps Kiprop sought to run at the back of the pack, much of his old tactics and when he decided to hit to the front, he faced impediment.
First, heading into the home straight of the second lap, compatriot Ronald Kwemoi tripped and fell while Kiprop was also tripped as he made his way into the leading pack, but managed to hold on to his balance to keep up.
At the bell, Kiprop found himself boxed between three athletes, pushing and shoving somehow taking off his gas.
The reigning world champion attempted to kick out with 300m to go but he could not sustain the push to the final bend.
Reigning Olympic champion Taofik Makhloufi, eventual champion Centrowitz and New Zealander Nicholas Willis pulled out.
Centrowitz, the World Indoor champion had managed to stay in the front of the pack from the gun and his enthusiastic spirit saw him win a historical gold.
The race started in hugely pedestrian fashion, quite uncharacteristic of such a rich field of athletes. They managed to clear the first 400m in 1:06.83.
For strong finishers such as Centrowitz and reigning champion Makhloufi, this was a perfect ingredient to give them the an opportunity to hit the pedals high in the final sprint.
It indeed worked in their favor with Makhloufi coming second, finishing in 3:50.11. New Zealander Willis took bronze in 3:50.24 while Kiprop came home a disappointing sixth in a time of 3:50.87.
Kwemoi, despite rising from his fall finished last in a time of 3:56.76.
Kiprop had enjoyed a superb season, losing only once in eight races this season and looked in great shape to win a second Olympic medal over the distance, equaling Seb Coe’s record of defending the title in the Moscow and Los Angeles Games.
But just like in London, his ended in a huge disappointment, failing to add onto the medal picked in Beijing, 2008.