Previews of Men's Distance Races at 2010 Commonwealth Games

by: Steven Mills
October 5, 2010

Editor's Note: Steven Mills at  Athletics Weekly sent us these men's previews of the Commonwealth Games distance action. If you're not familiar with Athletics Weekly, it's the only weekly track and field magazine in the world. We remember seeing it for the first time in the 1990s in England and being awestruck. Now thanks to the internet, a digital edition and an iphone app for Athletics Weekly are available for people in the US.

The Commonwealth Games start Wednesday and the highlight is the men's 5000m final with 2010 World leader Eliud Kipchoge taking on Uganda's Moses Kipsiro (3rd, 4th and 4th at the last 3 global championships) and the incredible Mark Kiptoo. Kiptoo is the 34 year old who won Stockholm this year in 12:53. Kiptoo started running at the age of 30. More here. Truly incredible.

THE Kenyan team has been weakened by the withdrawals of world 800m record-holder David Rudisha, Olympic 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop and Osaka world marathon champion Luke Kibet but despite these absentees, the Kenyans should be confident of improving on their gold-medal tally of 2006.

Men's 5000m Final Starts Off Day 1 at CWG
Final Wednesday October 5

MOSES KIPSIRO perhaps doesn’t receive the plaudits he deserves but the highly consistent Ugandan, who possesses a blistering sprint finish, has a great chance to claim the gold medal.

Since finishing seventh in Melbourne as a teenager, Kipsiro won a bronze medal at the 2007 World Championships, before finishing fourth in the 2008 Olympic Games and 2009 World Championships.

Kipsiro also collected a bronze medal at this year’s World Cross Country Championships and finished second to Bernard Lagat over 3000m and 5000m at the Continental Cup in Split.

Despite this pedigree, a strong Kenyan trio will be in the reckoning for top honours and their triumvirate is led by former world champion Eliud Kipchoge, who holds the world-leading mark of 12:51.21, although the Olympic silver medallist hasn’t been producing performances of the same ilk due to a bout of malaria.

The Kenyan squad also contains the 34-year-old Mark Kiptoo, who took a noteworthy victory in Stockholm in a PB of 12:53.46, while Vincent Yator comprises the trio.

Yator might be the least well-known of the trio but the 21-year-old won the Kenyan Championships, last month’s Kenyan Trials and claimed a silver medal at the African Championships.

Craig Mottram’s victory at the Great North City Games proved the Australian selectors were foolhardy to exclude him from their roster, which leaves Collis Birmingham, 13:10.97 this year, as their leading medal hope in the distance events.

Reigning champion – Augustine Choge (KEN)

Commonwealth record-holder – Daniel Komen (KEN) 12:39.74

Games record-holder – Augustine Choge (KEN) 12:56.41

Noteworthy absentees

REIGNING champion Augustine Choge wasn't chosen while Melbourne silver medallist Craig Mottram wasn't given a berth on the Australian team, despite staging a strong recovery from a succession of Achilles injuries.

Double European champion and UK record-holder Mo Farah has pulled out of the English team citing fatigue.

Men's 800m: Boaz Lalang Gets Chance to Shine
Starts Saturday October 9, Final October 10

DESPITE the absence of world record-holder David Rudisha, Kenya will still have high hopes of taking this title through sub-1:43 man Boaz Lalang.

The 21-year-old won silver at the World Indoor Championships in Doha and the Kenyan No.2 translated this form onto the outdoor stage with a string of fine performances, including a runner-up finish to Rudisha in his world-record breaking performance in Rieti, where Lalang lowered his lifetime best to 1:42.95.

Lalang is joined on the Kenyan team by Richard Kiplagat, who's lowered his PB to 1:44.77 this year.

The Kenyan duo are well ahead of the rest of the Commonwealth on paper but other medal candidates include a strong English trio comprised by Darren St. Clair, 1:45.74 this year, Andrew Osagie, 1:46.41 this year and 19-year-old Niall Brooks, who's posted 1:47.02 for 800m and 3:38.62 for 1500m this year.

The home nation will be hoping Pankaj Dimari, who has improved from 1:48.71 to 1:46.26 this year, can sneak a medal.

Reigning champion – Alex Kipchirchir (KEN)

Commonwealth record-holder – David Rudisha (KEN) 1:41.01

Games record-holder – Steve Cram (ENG) 1:43.22

Noteworthy absentees

Newly crowned world 800m record-holder David Rudisha has decided to forego this event, citing fatigue after two world records at the end of August. No replacement has been named for Rudisha on the Kenyan team.

World champion and former Commonwealth champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi has pulled out with a hamstring injury. The South African, who won a silver medal at the Athens Olympics, also missed the 2006 Commonwealths in Melbourne after being badly spiked at the World Indoor Championships the week before.

European silver medallist and sub-1:44 competitor Michael Rimmer from England has chosen to miss the Commonwealths in order to focus on the 2011 season.

Up-and-coming Aussie Ryan Gregson has pulled out of the 800m and 1500m with a stress fracture.

Men's 1500m: Silas Kiplagat vs Nick Willis vs English
Starts Saturday October 9, Final October 12

WORLD-LEADER Silas Kiplagat from Kenya will be seeking to cap his breakthrough year onto the international scene with his first 1500m title.

The 21-year-old, whose pre-2010 PB stood at a modest 3:39.1, finished second to Asbel Kiprop at the Kenyan Championships and on his first ever race on the European circuit, Kiplagat shocked a stellar field at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco with a world-leading performance of 3:29.27.

Kiplagat only finished fourth at the African Championships but since then, the newcomer won in Berlin in 3:30.61, Lille in 3:35.50 and finished second in Rieti in 3:31.97.

Kiplagat will be flanked by another promising youngster in James Magut, who won the African junior title in 2009 and a world junior silver medal in 2008, and Gideon Gathimba, who is the most experienced of the triumvirate.

Another medal favourite is Olympic silver medallist and defending champion Nick Willis from New Zealand. The Kiwi has been sidelined with knee surgery and a hip injury since finishing second in Beijing but the 27-year-old national record-holder is making steady progress.

Willis recently won a good-class 1500m race in Milan in a season's best of 3:35.17 before completing his tune-up with sixth at the Fifth Avenue Mile in New York.

The New Zealander was originally planning on attempting to emulate Peter Snell's middle-distance double but Willis has now opted to contest just the 1500m.   

The English triumvirate of Tom Lancashire (3:33.96), Andy Baddeley (3:34.50) and Colin McCourt (3:37.06) will be keen to bounce back from disappointing performances at the European Championships in Barcelona.

Reigning champion – Nick Willis (NZL)

Commonwealth record-holder – Bernard Lagat (KEN) 3:26.34

Games record-holder – Peter Elliot (ENG) 3:33.39

Noteworthy absentees

Most of the leading Commonwealth contenders will be in New Delhi but Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop from Kenya has pulled out due to fatigue, which isn't a huge surprise given his lacklustre performance at the Continental Cup.

As mentioned earlier, Ryan Gregson, who has set an Australasian record of 3:31.06 this year, is out of the Games with a stress fracture.

Men's 10,000m

DANIEL SALEL is by no means the most well-known Kenyan on the circuit but the former world youth 3000m champion boasts a 10,000m PB of 27:07.85 and is ranked No.3 in the world. Could the 19-year-old propel his senior career with the title?

Another Kenyan teenager in Titus Mbishei is also strongly favoured for the title. The 19-year-old, who won silver medals at the 2008 World Junior Championships and 2009 World Junior Cross Country Championships has improved his PB to 27:29.13 although Mbishei must be capable of a faster time, as this performance was posted at altitude.

Mbishei has also tasted victory in India this year with a decisive victory in the prestigious Bangalore 10km, where  he lowered his PB to 27:54.

The least known of the Kenyan trio is the 26-year-old Joseph Birech. He recently finished second at the Kenyan Trials in a PB of 27:58.65.

Moses Kipsiro could be a threat but it is not yet known if he will contest both events. The London-based Ugandan won the African title in 2006 and took a silver medal this year.

Chris Thompson will lead England's hopes in the absence of double European champion Mo Farah. The 29-year-old broke through with a debut performance of 27:29.61 in May and has managed to maintain top-form.  

Reigning champion – Boniface Kiprop (UGA)

Commonwealth record-holder – Paul Tergat (KEN) 26:27.85

Games record-holder – Wilberforce Talel (KEN) 27:45.39

Noteworthy absentees

Canada's Simon Bairu, who opened his season with a national record of 27:23.63, is gearing up for his marathon debut in New York on November 7.

As previously mentioned, Farah has dropped out of the Games due to fatigue.

Men's marathon

DEFENDING champion Samson Ramadhani has made a name for himself with his championship performances and 1980 Olympic 5000m silver medallist Suleiman Nyambui, who is the Tanzanian national coach, has high hopes for another sterling performance from the winner in Melbourne.

Ramadhani broke the 2:10-barrier for the first time in seven years with a runner-up finish in the Hannover Marathon with 2:09:46 which indicates the Tanzanian record-holder will be putting up a stern title defence.

In the absence of former world champion Luke Kibet, John Kelai and Amos Matui lead the Kenyan charge. Kelai holds a PB of 2:09:09 and has won the Toronto and Mumbai marathons in recent years, while Matui has a PB of 2:12:14 and while neither of them boast Kibet's credentials, they should both be in the fray for medalware.

Rwanda were inducted into the Commonwealth less than a year ago and Dieudonne Disi holds Rwanda's best chance of winning their first ever medal. The 32-year-old hasn't really got to grips with the marathon yet (18th in Paris in 2:12:51 and DNF at the World Championships last year) but Disi is a fine half-marathon exponent with a PB of 59:32 which shows he's a threat if he manages the distance.

Australia’s Jeffrey Hunt made his marathon debut in February, finishing third in Oita in 2:11:00 which should stand him in good stead and the 28-year-old is joined by Michael Shelley, 2:13:05 this year, and Martin Dent, 2:13:27 this year.

Reigning champion – Samson Ramadhani (TAN)

Commonwealth record-holder – Duncan Kibet (KEN) and James Kwambai (KEN) 2:04:27

Games record-holder – Ian Thompson (ENG) 2:09:12

Noteworthy absentees

OSAKA world champion Luke Kibet had to drop out of the Kenyan team due to a tendon injury sustained at the pre-Delhi training camp in Iten. Needless to say, all of the leading Kenyan marathoners will be focusing on big-city marathons.

Men's 3000m steeplechase: World, Olympic and African Champs are Here

THE Kenyans are sending a powerful triumvirate comprised of defending champion and Berlin world champion Ezekiel Kemboi, Olympic and former world champion Brimin Kipruto and world silver medallist and African champion Richard Mateelong.

Kipruto holds the two fastest times in the world this year at 8:00.90 from Paris and 8:01.62 from Lausanne. Kemboi is ranked second in the world with 8:01.74 and while Mateelong is the slowest of the trio at 8:06.44, the 26-year-old won the Kenyan title, the African title, beating Kemboi, and the Continental Cup.

Head-to-head stats

Kemboi vs. Mateelong 21-10 (2010 3-3)

Kemboi vs. Kipruto 23-9 (2010 3-1)

Kipruto vs. Kemboi 9-23 (2010 1-3)

Kipruto vs. Mateelong 17-14 (2010 3-2)

Mateelong vs. Kemboi 10-21 (2010 3-3)

Mateelong vs. Kipruto 14-17 (2010 2-3)

Despite fielding such a formidable trio, a Kenyan sweep is by no means assured as Uganda's Benjamin Kiplagat, who has improved his national record from 8:12.98 to 8:03.81 this year, is among the favourites.

Other contenders include Olympic sixth placer Youcef Abdi from Australia and world and Olympic finalist Ruben Ramolefi from South Africa.

Reigning champion – Ezekiel Kemboi (KEN)

Commonwealth record-holder – Bernard Barmasai (KEN) 7:55.72

Games record-holder – Johnstone Kipkoech (KEN) 8:14.72

Noteworthy absentees

Former world No.1 Paul Kipsiele Koech wasn't selected for the Kenyan team but the 28-year-old isn't highly regarded for his championship credentials. 



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