1,500m: A Great Field That Is Totally Wide Open And There For The Taking

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by LetsRun.com
March 5, 2014

The men’s 1,500 at the 2014 IAAF World Indoors is certainly going to be a treat to watch as it’s a wide open affair with no one close to being considered the favorite.

The field has so many quality names – that it creates a problem. The wide open nature of this event makes for great TV but makes our jobs next to impossible. Good luck breaking down the following field:

1,500 Metres M DOBPR (o=outdoor)2014 Best Comment
Mohamed MOUSTAOUIMAR4/2/19853:31.84 o3:35.0Finalist in the last 3 outdoor WChamps with 2 6th-place finishes. Beat Souleiman, Birgen, Wote and Kiplagat in setting WL on Feb. 6th.
Ayanleh SOULEIMANDJI12/3/19923:30.31 o3:35.2Bronze medalist in 800 at Worlds last summer. 5th at 2012 World Indoors in 1,500. Holds NRs at 800, 1,000, 1,500, mile and 3,000.
Bethwell BIRGENKEN8/6/19883:30.77 o3:35.3Hit indoor 3,000 PR of 7:37.17 at Terrier.
Silas KIPLAGATKEN8/20/19893:29.27 o3:35.85Silver medalist outdoors in 2011 WChamps. 6th in this event in 2012. Also made finals in 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds. Only sub-3:30 outdoor PR in the field (3:29.27 from 2010).
Aman WOTEETH4/18/19843:32.65 o3:36.4Just missed a medal in 4th at World Indoors 2 years ago.
Homiyu TESFAYEGER6/23/19933:34.18 o3:37.355th at 2013 Worlds in 1,500. Beat Birgen, Gebremedhin and Kiplagat in Birmingham in Feb. (but lost to Nixon Chepseba). German champ at 1,500 and 3,000 this indoor season. Ran for Ethiopia through June of last year.
Mekonnen GEBREMEDHINETH10/11/19883:31.45 o3:37.42Moving up at each World Indoors since 2008. Bronze medal in 2012. 4th in 2010 and 6th in 2008. Also made finals in the last 3 outdoor global championships.
Nicholas WILLISNZL4/25/19833:30.35 o3:37.622008 Olympic silver medalist has also made 3 other global championship finals outdoors. 2005 NCAA mile champ and teammate of Nate Brannen at Michigan.
Will LEERUSA4/15/19853:35.27 o3:37.89Having a great season so far. 3:52.47 win in the Wanamaker Mile was a world leader and lifetime PR, then earned the World Indoors spot with a runner-up finish to Lopez Lomong at USAs.
Ilham Tanui ÖZBILENTUR3/5/19903:31.30 o3:38.22Formerly William Tanui Biwott when running for Kenya (until June 2011). Won the silver medal in this event in 2012 and finished 8th in the Olympic final that summer. Top 2014 result is perhaps a winning 2:15.96 1,000 on Feb. 20th. Part of the Kenyan WR 4 x 1,500 team (14:36.23) back in 2009. 24 years old on March 5th.
Chris O’HAREGBR11/23/19903:35.37 o3:38.28Finalist in 1,500 at 2013 Worlds. 2012 NCAA mile champ.
Jakub HOLUŠACZE2/20/19883:38.10 o3:38.79
Lee EMANUELGBR1/24/19853:36.55 o3:38.99Briefly had the WL in the mile with a 3:54.30 win at NB New York back in January. Won back-to-back NCAA mile titles in 2009 and 2010 for New Mexico.
Nathan BRANNENCAN9/8/19823:34.22 o3:39.01Made the finals in the 1,500 at Worlds last year and set a Canadian indoor mile record of 3:54.34 at Millrose in Feb. Repeat NCAA indoor 800 champ (2003, 2004) for Michigan back in the day.
David MCCARTHYIRL8/3/19883:39.143:39.14Former Providence star won first Irish title in the 1,500 on Feb. 25th.
Adel MECHAALESP12/5/19903:36.78 o3:39.36
Andreas VOJTAAUT6/9/19893:36.36 o3:40.06
Ioan ZAIZANROU7/21/19833:39.33 o3:40.30
Lopez LOMONGUSA1/1/19853:32.20 o3:43.09Admittedly focusing on the 5,000 for later in the year but stormed back to win the 1,500 at USA Indoors after missing out on a team spot in the 3,000. Finished 6th in the 3,000 at the 2012 World Indoors. Also was a WChamps 1,500 finalist in 2009 and an Olympic 5,000 finalist in 2012.
Mitja KREVSSLO7/26/19893:43.733:43.73
Wesam ALMASSRIPLE11/23/19903:53.56 o3:53.56 o
Aitor GOMEZGIB5/2/19923:57.39 o4:17.07
Abdalaati IGUIDERMAR3/25/19873:31.47 oThe defending champion also grabbed the silver in 2010 World Indoors and the bronze at the 2012 Olympics and has made 3 other global championship finals. Only 2014 result is a 5th place 3,000 of 7:39.56.
Omar Mohamed ABDISOM1/1/19913:46.32 o

Included in the list above are half the field from 2013 World Outdoor Championships final (Tesfaye (5th), Kiplagat (6th), Gebremedhin (7th), Moustaoui (9th), Brannen (10th), O’Hare 12th).

And some of the better guys in the field weren’t in the 2013 outdoor final as 2008 Olympic silver medallist Nick Willis, who has run 3:53 for the mile this winter, is running as is 2013 World Championships bronze medalist at 800, Ayanleh Souleiman, who is a supreme talent with a 3:30.31 PR at age 21.

Based on career accomplishments, the favorite would be 2011 WChapms silver medalist Silas Kiplagat. But Kiplagat has never won a global title despite having a 3:29 PR.

You never know what you are going to get with him. How does one possibly make sense of these race results for Kiplagat in 2014?

1,500 m
3:40.47i   SB4PSD BankDüsseldorf30 Jan
3:35.85i 
SB (4)1WinterMoskva2 Feb
3:38.7hi   8XL GalanStockholm6 Feb
3:39.75i   6Sainsbury’sBirmingham15 Feb

Considering he was sixth and eighth in his last two 1,500s, we’re not picking him for the win. As he boarded the plane to go to Worlds, he said knew he was in good shape but didn’t sound like the eventual champion as he talked about medaling, not winning gold.

I am in top form and ready to compete. I hope to win a medal in Sopot to boost my title defense bid at the Commonwealth Games,” said Kiplagat to The Standard.

The other Kenyan in the field is someone we like even less – Bethwell Birgen.

Look at the direction his races are going as the season goes along:

3:39.05i   SB1PSD BankDüsseldorf30 Jan
3:36.10i   SB2WinterMoskva2 Feb
3:35.3hi   SB (3)3XL GalanStockholm6 Feb
3:37.51i   4Sainsbury’sBirmingham15 Feb

Oh yeah, that February 15th race in Birmingham was won by a Kenyan. The only problem is Kenya’s Nixon Chepseba – who was fourth in Moscow – wasn’t selected for the Kenyan team. To be honest, his 2014 results haven’t been a model of consistency either but we’d certainly pick him for the team over Birgen:

1,500 m – Chepseba’s 2014 results
3:40.39i   SB3PSD BankDüsseldorf30 Jan
3:37.02i WL  SB (8)1WeltklasseKarlsruhe1 Feb
3:39.7hi   9XL GalanStockholm6 Feb
3:37.19i   1Sainsbury’sBirmingham15 Feb

So if we discount the Kenyans, then who wins?

That’s a great question.

Souleiman was the winner in Paris last summer. Will he win again? More 2013 Paris DL Photos

The 2014 world leader is Morocco’s Mohamed Moustaoui, who ran 3:35.0 in his lone 1,500 of the year on Feb. 6, and beat Souleiman, Birgen, Wote and Kiplagat in the process. But three times he’s been in a world outdoor final and never medalled? Is he really going to win gold in Sopot?

We know one thing. Someone has to win.

That’s good news for Kiwi Nick Willis, who won in Boston and American Will Leer, who won at Millrose but not at USAs, where Lopez Lomong was the US champion. A medal by the Americans isn’t out of the question. A gold colored one would really shock us.

Medals also could go to Canada’s Nate Brannen, who just smashed the Canadian 1k record in Boston last weekend, as well as former NCAA star Lee Emanuel of the UK. Emanuel is undefeated on the year at 1,500/mile (two for two). Ethiopians Mekonnen Gebremedhin and Aman Wote also will be in the medal hunt.

In terms of gold? We honestly don’t know. No one has established themselves as the favorite.

Now, we haven’t mentioned the defending champ. Morocco’s Abdelaati Iguider won gold in 2012 and silver in 2010. We didn’t mention him above simply because he hasn’t run a 1,500/mile this year. He has raced once – a 7:39 3,000 – so he’s in shape. And he likes to go into Worlds lightly raced. In 2012, Worlds was just his third race and in 2010, it was just his second. He’s quite accomplished … as well as in addition to his two World Indoor medals, the 26-year-old has four times been top six at Worlds/Olympics outdoors, which includes the Olympic bronze he won in 2012 (he just edged Centrowitz).

LRC Prediction: When confused by the stats, we say go with quality as the cream normally rises to the top. The four men in the field with outdoor championship medals – Iguider, Souleiman, Willis and Kiplagat – also have some of the better personal bests in the field. Of those four, Souleiman is the only one who really is still considered a rising star. So we’ll pick him to arrive for the first time and claim gold.

Souleiman trains in the same group as Genzebe Dibaba. When you combine supreme talent with good coaching, the results are normally quite good.

Other medals: Iguider has shown he can run well indoors. That means something. Some guys do not do well on the indoor oval. The 1,500m will be a fun one for fans to watch as they can cheer for a slew of guys to break through for their first global medal.