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Rio pain pushing Manangoi for London gold

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Elijah Manangoi leads Olympics champion, Taoufik Mkhloufi in the opening men 1500m heat in Beijing on August 27, 2015. PHOTO/IAAF/Getty Images

NAIROBI, Kenya, July 28- World 1500m silver medalist Elijah Manangoi was full of hope when he boarded the plane to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games last year with expectations high that he would clinch a first ever Olympic medal.

However, the dream was never to be.

He withdrew from the semi final of the event with injury and to date, it is a pain he seldom wants to remember.

“I don’t even want to talk about Rio, please,” the grim-faced 24-year-old said as he played back the memories of that fateful evening in the Brazilian capital in an interview with Capital Sport.

Manangoi has now vowed to use that pain of missing out on a medal in the Olympics to go for a gold medal in London, improving on his performance from two years back in Beijing where he clinched silver behind compatriot Asbel Kiprop.

“I was disappointed in what happened in Rio and that is something that motivates me to go to London and come with a gold medal. I don’t want to disappoint for the second time. I am concentrating on building up for the World Championships and what happened in Rio remains in the past,” Manangoi added.

The team after training.Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

He can look on to his second World Championship appearance with awe especially bearing in mind the form he is enjoying this season.

In Monaco last week, Manangoi ran a World Lead of 3:28.80, lowering his own Personal Best of 3:29.67 coincidentally set on the same track two years ago in 2015.

He says he feels his body has kicked into shape even as he worked on the finer details of his preparation on Thursday afternoon at the Kasarani Stadium.

“I think I am in good shape and basing on the race in Monaco, I am confident I will do well in London. This time I feel more relaxed and under no pressure. I am focusing on bringing the gold medal home. I don’t want silver or bronze,” the confident Manangoi further stated.

Elijah Manangoi training at Kasarani Stadium.Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

He has run in four Diamond League races this season, winning in Doha and Monaco while he finished second in Oslo. He also ran the mile in Eugene finishing second while he featured in the 800m in Rome to test his speed, finishing fourth.

As compared to 2015 when he went in to the World Championships as a hugely unknown figure, he walks into London’s Olympic Stadium this time round as a more established athlete and he considers himself better and more experienced.

“Over the last few years I have learnt so much. I changed my training courtesy of my coach (Bernard Ouma) and I think I am now more experienced. I know how to manage my race and how to attack different angles of the track and that is something that gives me confidence,” he noted.

The Kenyan 1500m team for the London Worlds is a strong one with reigning champion Kiprop, Manangoi’s training partner Timothy Cheruiyot and 2014 African bronze medalist Ronald Kwemoi completing the quartet.

Timothy Kitum leading Elijah Manangoi and Asbel Kiprop in training at Kasarani Stadium.Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

Manangoi, who led Cheruiyot and Kwemoi across the line in the first three positions in Monaco has promised the team will sweep the medals home from London.

“We have a strong team led by the defending champion Asbel. I think we are going there for business. There is no joke there. We will go and get the medals home,” the confident Manangoi proclaimed.

He still hopes to lower Hicham El Guerrouj’s 19-year 3:26.00 record in the two remaining Diamond League races. He had hoped to do so in Monaco, but he only achieved a Personal Best.

“The dream is still there because we have Zurich and Brussels which will be fast races as well. I will still try and break that record then we see what comes out of it,” he affirmed.

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