Men's 1,500m: Matt Centrowitz Gets Bronze As Asbel Kiprop And Silas Kiplagat Get Gold And Silver In Daegu

Closing In 1:49, Kiprop Leads Kenyan 1-2, Centro Finishes Fast To End 2011 Season As Worlds Bronze Medallist

September 3, 2011
Daegu, South Korea

Asbel Kiprop and Silas Kiplagat went 1-2 in the Daegu 2011 men's 1,500m World Championships final, winning Kenya's first-ever WC gold in the men's 1,500m, but for the majority of the audience, the story of the men's 1,500m starts with a bronze medal for 21-year-old Oregon Duck Matt Centrowitz Jr., who closed in 51.5 and 1:49. We've got full coverage from Daegu with videos, splits, results, quotes and analysis from a race that had the LRC message boards on fire for days before the event even went off. Just take a look at the threads on the front page of the boards about 3 hours after Centro crossed the line in 3rd.

LRC Message Boards explode over the Men's 1,500m (threads from noon eastern time, Saturday 3 September):

*Centro will provide repeat of Barringer Gold
*Matt - give yourself some credit
*Men's 1500m Official thread
*Centro pics from the FINISH LINE
*O'Lionaird confirmed to be coached by Salazar in 2012!!
*Centro last lap 51.3 for centro
*Wheating - if anyone- will be our next current 1500m guy to medal
*Centro Jr. is a Tactical Mastermind
*Men's 1,500m Final Preview
*Who's the better tactician: Centrowitz or Lagat?
*Who is the Surprise of the Championships so Far?
*Asbel Kiprop Is Going To Win The Men 1500M At The 2011 WC's

Andrew Wheating congratulates Matt Centrowitz
after his world bronze in Daegu.

The Race:
Like nearly all championship 1,500m races, this one came down to the final 400m. Kiprop and Kiplagat were definitely the favorites, but Centrowitz had shown his closing speed and superb tactics in his semifinal win. Kiprop had shown much better tactics himself in his semifinal win (Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic champion thanks to the DQ of drug cheat Rachid Ramzi, never has been known for his strong race tactics).

Beijing silver medallist Nick Willis took the lead 100m into the race and led at 400 (60.02) and 800 (2:01.70) with Centrowitz right behind him. With 600m to go, things began to heat up as Kiprop went to the front, as did Silas Kiplagat and Mekonnen Gebremedhin of Ethiopia. Kiplagat led at the bell (2:44.24) and was followed by Willis on the inside and Gebremedhin and Kiplagat on the outside. Centrowitz was boxed in for the first time all week in 7th.

Just at the completion of 3 laps (2:57.01, lap in a brisk 55.30) as the runners hit the backstretch, 2011 world leader Silas Kiplagat made his move. He burst to the lead and Gebremedhin was on his shoulder. Kiplagat made a rookie mistake, however, and left open space on the inside and Kiprop snuck through it to take the lead just before 200m to go (having covered that 200 in 25.5). Kiprop led into the final turn with Kiplagat giving chase. Centrowitz was no longer boxed in, but in sixth.

That's how things remained when they hit the final straight. Kiprop powered for home with Kiplagat two strides back on his shoulder. Could Kiplagat close the gap? No. Kiprop got the win in 3:35.69 with Kiplagat in 3:35.92. Closing even faster the final 100m was Centrowitz. Moving into 5th at the start of the straight, he then passed Gebremedhin for fourth. Now a fading Abdalaati Iguider was all that stood between him and America's first 1,500m medal since Jim Spivey's 1987 bronze. Centro passed Iguider and got the bronze, only .16 back of Kiplagat. A few more meters and he likely would have had silver.

The splits (shown below) show that the field closed the final 800m in approximately 1:49, depending on the runner. The final lap was covered in around 51-mid, with Centro being timed between 51.6 and 51.3. Truly world-class closing speed. Kiprop's final 400 was 51.45.

Men's 1,500m Final Splits

300: 44.30
700: 1:46.25 (61.95)
1,100: 2:43.90 (hand timed, 2:44.24 automatic) (57.65)
1,300: 3:09.42 (25.52)
1,500: 3:35.69 (26.27)

200: 28.60
400: 60.02 (31.42)
600: 1:30 (30.0)
800: 2:01.70 (61.68, 31.7)
1,200: 2:57.01 (55.31)
1,500: 3:35.69 (38.68) (last 700 in 1:33.99)

*Last 800, according to LRC official watch, for the "leader" 1:49.4 (since Willis was leading with 800 to go, the final 800 for Kiprop may have been in the 1:48s).

Post Race Reaction from Centro: "51.6? That is ridiculous"

Matt Centrowitz was all smiles after the race. The youngster, who according to Nick Willis, was joking around in the call room before the race, ran like a seasoned pro.

Centrowitz definitely had a relaxed attitude coming into the race. Afterwards he said, "I think I looked at the start lists for this final the least for any race I've raced all year. I knew everyone was going to be good, so what was the point to look at their PRs?"

Matt ran well tactically before getting boxed before the bell. On being boxed he said, "They went so hard with 350 to go. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't cover because it was so hard and so fast. I was just thinking to myself, 'Just stay relaxed, some of them will come back.' ... Once 200 (to go) hit, each 50 was (passing) one more guy, one more guy, one more guy."

When Matt was told his final 400 was 51.6. He said what many were thinking: "51.6? That is ridiculous."

No doubt talk will soon turn to whether Centrowitz should turn pro and forego his final indoor and outdoor season at the University of Oregon. Matt said he knew things would change with success but was aware of how great a year this has been. He said, "I don't want anything to change. This has been a dream season."

Centro was quick to credit his support system of friends, family and coach (Andy Powell of Oregon). Of his supporters he said, "I know my sisters, my mom, my dad (4-time US champ and former American 5,000m record holder Matt Centrowitz Sr.), my teammates were all watching. Hopefully, I made them proud. They woke up really early (to watch)."

Centro Nation Expanding
Now it is time for Centro to celebrate. Matt said there was a maybe 2% chance he'd run a race in Europe. Most likely he'll return back to the East Coast and start celebrating. Then he'll return to the Oregon campus. When asked where he'll keep his medal, Centro said with style, "Probably around my neck where ever I go around Eugene. Hopefully that will help me score some chicks, part of my Centro Nation."

When asked in a groundbreaking LetsRun Exclusive (who says we're not journalists?) how people could sign up for Centro Nation, Centro let the news break that he was expanding his Centro Nation fan club. He said, "It used to be only good looking girls, but I'm (now) accepting guys, (and) girls that may think they are not up to par. Hit me up on Facebook."

Full Post-Race Press Conference


Centro's Coach Andy Powell On The Magical Season




Andrew Wheating Celebrates With Matt Centrowitz Jr


Matt Centrowitz Says He Expanding Centro Nation And Tells You How You Can Join


Centro's Coach Andy Powell Credits Centro's Desire To Make An Impact At Worlds And Racing Skills

Centrowitz's coach Andy Powell of Oregon was obviously pleased after the race. He gave Centrowitz, who ran 3:36 at age 19 two summers ago, the credit for wanting to make an impact at Worlds, not just be content to make the team.

Powell said his biggest concern was making the final. He called Centro's race in the semi "probably the best race he's ever run."

After making the final Powell said, "Once he made the final, we kind of knew anything could happen. I think we're both in shock (with the bronze)."

Powell said Centro's racing tactics help him stand out. Powell was right on the money on Centro's final 400m, "Once he got his opening, I bet you he closed the fastest of everyone in that field."

Silas Kiplagat on Silver at his first Worlds
(more from all 3 medallists
In the press conference video above)

Kiprop And Kiplagat Reflect On Kenya's 1-2, Kenya's First 1,500m Gold
Although this was Asbel Kiprop's second global title, it was the first time he crossed the line in first (in 2008, Rashid Ramzi crossed the line first but was disqualified for a drug positive).

Despite being beaten soundly by Kiplagat at the Kenyan Trials, Kiprop was confident he could win no matter the pace. He said he did a 2:44 1,200m at altitude in training so, "I was ready whether the race was going to be fast or slow."

Now, Kiprop can focus on racing Silas in the final Diamond League meet in Zürich and trying to lower his relatively modest PR of 3:31.20. On his PR, Kiprop said, "I'm really disappointed with 3:31."

Kiplagat may have been the favorite on many pundits heading into the Worlds, but he knew walking away with a silver in his first Worlds was a strong accomplishment. As he said, "Starting with a silver is not bad." His sights are now set on gold in London.

And if you think Centrowitz's rise to the top of the world is quick, Kiplagat's is even quicker. He had never raced on the track in Europe until last year (and he ran his amazing 3:29.27 PR in his first European track race ever). Despite not having a lot of experience Kiplagat was able to put everything in perspective. "You must remember, in athletics you win today, you lose tomorrow." Coached by the great Kenyan steepler Moses Kiptanui, Kiplagat has a bright future in the sport, but so do Kiprop and Centrowitz.

Nick Willis Searching For Answers, Makes No Excuses

After his last place finish, Olympic silver medallist Nick Willis was left looking for answers. Despite dry heaving immediately after his semifinal and then waking up 25 minutes later in the medical area, Nick did not want to blame his suspected dehydration problems with his performance in the final.

Nick said one of the scenarios that went through the race was for him to be leading. The plan was to keep it honest so the guys running out in lane two or three "would pay for the extra distance." Willis said it was "really ideal" when Kiprop went around with 600 to go.

However when the time to kick came, Willis "went backwards." Willis said, "I have no idea what (the problem) is ... In the past, I've been a little bit critical of athletes who raced really fast times during the season and had not been there in the Championships and I have to eat a bit of humble pie because that is my season. I'm a little bit ashamed of that ... I came in with the third fastest time. Anything less than a medal wasn't acceptable to me."

Nick was full of praise for the medallists. "Full credit to Matt Centrowitz. What an awesome run for him ... He's got a lot of potential and the Kenyans executed their plan perfectly."

Kiplagat, 22, Joins Kiprop, 22, And Centrowitz, 21 On Medal Podium

Silver medallist Silas Kiplagat of Kenya just turned 22 and now joins Kiprop as the co-leader of the Kenyan 1,500m movement. If Matt Centrowitz hopes to earn gold in the future, it looks like he'll be contending with these top Kenyans for most of his career. All four finalists are within 4 months of each other in age, with Kiprop being the oldest. He turned 22 in June, Kiplagat turned 22 on August 20th, and Centrowitz turns 22 in October.

Men's 1,500m Final Results - September 3, 2011, Daegu Stadium, South Korea

1 646 Asbel Kiprop KEN 3:35.69   (Also 2008 Olympic champion)
2 645 Silas Kiplagat KEN 3:35.92
3 1068 Matthew Centrowitz USA 3:36.08
4 346 Manuel Olmedo ESP 3:36.33   (European indoor champion)
5 748 Abdalaati Iguider MAR 3:36.56   (World junior champion, Olympics 5th placer)
6 751 Mohamed Moustaoui MAR 3:36.80
7 371 Mekonnen Gebremedhin ETH 3:36.81
8 1141 Eduar Villanueva VEN 3:37.31
9 398 Mehdi Baala FRA 3:37.46   (Bronze 2008, silver 2003)
10 558 Ciaran O'Lionaird IRL 3:37.81
11 103 Tarek Boukensa ALG 3:38.05
12 810 Nicholas Willis NZL 3:38.69   (2008 Olympic 1,500m silver medallist)

400m 810 Nicholas Willis NZL 1:00.02
800m 810 Nicholas Willis NZL 2:01.71
1,200m 645 Silas Kiplagat KEN 2:57.0



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