NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – Elijah Manangoi stunned three-time champion Asbel Kiprop to claim gold in the men’s 1500m as Kenya finished second overall with five gold medals at the 2017 London IAAF World Championships on Sunday.
Manangoi, who entered the race as the fastest this year, clocked 3:33.61, finishing 0.38second ahead of compatriot Timothy Cheruiyot who bagged silver in 3:33.99 as Filip Ingebrigtsen of Norway claimed bronze in 3:34.53.
This saw Kiprop’s bid for a fourth successive world title thwarted as he could only manage ninth in 3:37.24, missing to equal Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj’s record fourth straight world titles.
Manangoi’s gold enabled Kenya to finish second overall in the 10-day event with a total of 11 medals, 5 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze.
It was a drop from the 2015 performance in Beijing, China when Kenya made history by topping the world for the first time ever with a total of 16 medals, 7 gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze.
“It was such a good race and I’m so pleased to be a world champion,” said Manangoi, whose younger brother George won the world U18 title over the same distance last month. “I had a difficult race as Timothy raced very well, but I had that extra strength.”
It’s not often that team tactics are used at major championships. It’s even rarer that they work.
Whether it was by luck or design, the Kenyan trio in the 1500m final ran together for much of the race and were rewarded with two out of a possible three medals.
The winner, however, was not the man who had won the past three titles. Instead, Kiprop could only look on as his teammates Manangoi and Cheruiyot battled it out for top honours.
Cheruiyot was the early leader. He was joined by Manangoi as they covered the first lap in 1:01.63 with Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s Chris O’Hare and Czech Republic’s Jakub Holusa following close behind.
Kiprop moved up into third place just before the half-way mark, ensuring Kenya filled the top three spots with just two laps to go. At the 800-metre mark, the Kenyan trio had a lead of about five metres on the rest of the field but it didn’t last long as Norway’s Filip Ingebrigtsen detached himself from the chase pack in a bid to join the leaders.
As the bell sounded for the final lap, Spain’s Adel Mechaal and Bahrain’s Sadik Mikhou had joined Ingebrigtsen on the heels of the Kenyan leaders. Cheruiyot and Manangoi were moving through the gears in their drive for the line, but Kiprop started to struggle.
Ingebrigtsen moved into third place with half a lap to go, but couldn’t quite get on terms with Cheruiyot and Manangoi. The Kenyan duo entered the home straight side by side, but Manangoi proved the stronger of the two, kicking on to win in 3:33.61.
Cheruiyot took silver in 3:33.99 while Ingebrigtsen held on for third, clocking 3:34.53. Mechaal crossed the line in fourth, just about holding off a fast-finishing Holusa, who had overtaken Mikhou further up the home straight.
Marcin Lewandowski and Nick Willis rounded out the top eight as Kiprop placed a distant ninth.
“We prepared well for this,” said Cheruiyot, who trains alongside Manangoi. “He is my friend, so I am happy for him to win gold and for me to win silver.”
It was the third time in the past four World Championships that Kenyan athletes had filled the top two spots in the men’s 1500m.
-Material from IAAF used in this report-