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Men's 1,500 Semis: Matt Centrowitz, Asbel Kiprop And Silas Kiplagat Cruise Into Finals

Nick Willis Struggles To Make It As Amine Lalou, Leo Manzano And Daniel Kipchirir Komen Fall By Wayside - Upstart Irishman O'Lionaird Advances

By LetsRun.com
September 1, 2011
Daegu, South Korea

Recaps and post-race reaction from the men's 1,500 semis below.

Heat 1: US Collegian And US Champ Matt Centrowitz Puts On A Clinic On How To Run A Heat

With Leo Manzano not looking good in the first round, US mid-distance fans were probably nervous as the first of two men's 1,500 heat got underway, as the collegiate athlete Matt Centrowitz appeared to be the US's best bet to make the final. With only five making the final automatically, US fans had ample reason to be a little bit worried, as there were 7 guys in the heat who had run faster than Centrowitz this year and 9 who had better personal bests than the American.

The worries proved to be unfounded. From the very start of the race, when Centrowitz put himself in the lead running calm and confident at the front of a slow pace, the 21-year-old looked like he certainly belonged, and by the end of the race, Centrowitz had put on an absolute clinic as to how to run a heat, as he emerged with the heat win and a much deserved spot in the final.

Centrowitz had the lead for almost the entire first 700 before the two Ethiopians took over the pacing duties as the field went through splits of 66.55 and 2:11.05. Centrowitz never left the rail but as the field hit the homestretch at 1,000, a bunch of guys moved up on the outside and he was boxed in sixth place. There was little need to really worry, as after all the top 5 would all advance and there was still more than a lap to run.

But when you have the instincts and guts of Centrowitz, there was no need to worry as 100 meters later, when the runners hit the bell (2:53.85), Centrowitz would have the lead and he still hadn't left the rail, as he passed the group on the inside just before the bell (see the video below which is cued to Centro's amazing inside pass). The whole final lap, Centrowitz never left the rail and he never lost touch with the lead. The 21-year-old ran exactly 1,500 meters and advanced to the finals easily. The top 5 guys finished basically together as a pack, with a bit of distance between them and the 6th placer in the defending champ, Yusuf Saad Kamel, who wouldn't advance on time.

Kamel's lack of advancement really wasn't a surprise, as he'd barely raced this year, but there was one big casualty behind Kamel. Despite the fact the race was slow, former 800 specialist Amine Laalou of Morocco, who had won the Paris Diamond League 1,500 in his last race before Worlds, failed to advance after finishing 7th even though he had the lead at 1,200 (3:06.93). He literally just ran out of steam about 30 meters before the finish like he had totally mistimed his kick. Australia's 21-year-old wunderkind Ryan Gregson, who had been struggling of late, also didn't make it to the final.

Quick Thought #1 (QT #1): Should we all be really shocked that Centrowitz is in the final?

Yes, he only had the 10th best PR in his heat and only 8th best seasonal best time, but he is the US champion and the US champion belongs in the final. Secondly, he's proven all year in relatively tactical races - whether the NCAA final or USA final - that he's virtually unbeatable with his kick. People probably didn't expect that to translate to Worlds but so far it most certainly has. It's easy to say that now, as hindsight is always 20-20.

Race results, race footage and an interview appear below plust

1,500 Semis - Heat #1

Position Bib Athlete Country Mark .
1 1068 Matthew Centrowitz USA 3:46.66 Q .
2 371 Mekonnen Gebremedhin ETH 3:46.71 Q .
3 645 Silas Kiplagat KEN 3:46.75 Q .
4 398 Mehdi Baala FRA 3:46.87 Q .
5 748 Abdalaati Iguider MAR 3:46.89 Q .
6 205 Yusuf Saad Kamel BRN 3:47.18 .
7 750 Amine Laalou MAR 3:47.65 .
8 132 Ryan Gregson AUS 3:47.89 .
9 223 Geoffrey Martinson CAN 3:48.83 .
10 350 Diego Ruiz ESP 3:49.26 .
11 107 Taoufik Makhloufi ALG 3:50.86 .
12 363 Zebene Alemayehu ETH 3:51.19 .
Intermediate Bib Athlete Nation Mark
400m 1068 Matthew Centrowitz USA 1:06.55
800m 371 Mekonnen Gebremedhin ETH 2:11.05
1,200m 750 Amine Laalou MAR 3:06.93

Matt Centrowitz Passes On The Inside
 

A Very Happy Matt Centrowitz After Making Final
 

Heat 2: Kiprop Looks Good As Daniel Kipchirir Komen Fails To Advance Again

When the gun went off in heat 2, the runners must have known that almost certainly the top 7 would advance to the final. Within a few steps, it was clear that was going to be the case, as Kenya's Daniel Kipchirir Komen decided he'd run hard from the front just like he did in the first round to try to avoid another flameout before the final, a result he is a bit famous for, as in 2005 and 2007, he also had failed to make the final in his only two other showings at a global outdoor championship.

Komen served as a perfect rabbit and he took he field through 400 in 57.08 and 800 in 1:55.88. At the bell ( 2:40.03), he technically didn't have the lead, as Ethiopia's Deresse Mekonnen, the silver medallist in 2009, was slightly ahead on his outside, but Komen would regain it on the backstretch after the runners had gone through 1,200 in 2:54.60. Coming off the final turn, everything seemed to be going to form, as Komen had the lead and his Kenyan teammate Asbel Kiprop, the Olympic champion, was on his outside, while noted kicker Nick Willis, the Olympic runner-up, was sitting comfortably in 6th.

Then things got interesting very quickly. Kiprop and Komen remained side-by-side until 50 meters to go, when some of the guys from behind came up and suddenly Komen hit a wall and just faded all the way back to 9th. It was really stunning to see him just have nothing in reserve as he only missed 7th by .19.

Willis, who looked so smooth in the first round, didn't have his patented kick on the homestretch at all. He actually moved backwards and found himself in 9th some just 25 meters from the finish line. Things clearly weren't going well, but Willis - to his credit - didn't give up and he ended up passing Komen and a tiring Yoann Kowal of France just before the finish line to get the final qualifying time by .05.

Afterwards, LetsRun.com saw Willis on a stretcher with attendants attending to both his head and leg. (Update: Willis suffered from dehydration) Clearly, something was wrong.

Komen wasn't the only "name" to fall by the wayside, as an even bigger name didn't advance. 2009 runner-up and 2010 world indoor and 2011 Millrose champ Deresse Mekonnen, who had the lead at 1,200, had nothing at all over the final 200 and totally gave up over the final 100 and then complained of a hurt foot afterwards.

American fans are probably saying, "Wait - what about Leo Manzano?" The Olympic semi-finalist was never a factor. He ran at the back of the pack for virtually the entire race. Coming into the final 100, though, he had moved up to 9th and could have advanced had he "had it." His patented late kick wasn't there either and he totally shut on the brakes about 30 meters from the line when it was clear he wasn't going to finish in the top 7. In the mixed zone after the race, Manzano sought medical treatment and had his hamstring wrapped (see video below).

With there being a few negative surprises in terms of advancement, that means there had to be there were some positive surprises, and that certainly was the case. Ciaran O'Lionaird, who failed to score in the 5,000 or 10,000 at NCAAs this June for Florida State, saw his magical August continue into September as he advanced, as did Venezuela's Eduar Villanueva, who set a new national record of 3:36.96.

QT #1: Manzano does amazingly well when he's got a shot to win a race and when he doesn't, he seemingly runs terribly. In the future, he needs to put himself in the front of the pack to feel like he's in it. If he'd been in heat 1, we think he'd probably be in the final, as that race was slow and this one was fast from the start and he found himself in the back. Having said that Leo wasn't physically 100% so he gets somewhat of a pass.

QT #2: Eduar Villanueva of Venezuela deserves some props. He came into the World Champs without even the "B" standard, as his PR was just 3:38.29. We're not even sure how he got into the meet - maybe because he was the Central American and Caribbean Sports Games Champion at 800 in 2010. Or could he be the only Venezuelan in the meet? Regardless, he's in the final.

QT #3: Kiprop looked sensational in this heat. Silas Kiplagat looked fine in heat 1 although he didn't reveal much. Those two came in as the two best in the world and there is no reason that, barring tactical mistakes, everyone else shouldn't be running for 3rd.

QT #4: It's a shame for the Kenyans that Daniel Kipchirir Komen didn't make the final as if he had they should have used him as the sacrificial lamb and then Kiprop and Kiplagat would be virtually guaranteed to go 1-2.

Interviews, race footage and results below.

1,500 Semis - Heat 2

Position Bib Athlete Country Mark .
1 646 Asbel Kiprop KEN 3:36.75 Q .
2 103 Tarek Boukensa ALG 3:36.84 Q .
3 751 Mohamed Moustaoui MAR 3:36.87 Q .
4 346 Manuel Olmedo ESP 3:36.91 Q .
5 1141 Eduar Villanueva VEN 3:36.96 Q (NR)
6 558 Ciaran O'Lionaird IRL 3:36.96 q .
7 810 Nicholas Willis NZL 3:37.39 q .
8 411 Yoann Kowal FRA 3:37.44 .
9 656 Daniel Kipchirchir Komen KEN 3:37.58 .
10 336 Juan Carlos Higuero ESP 3:37.92 .
11 376 Deresse Mekonnen ETH 3:44.65 .
12 959 Chaminda Indika Wijekoon SRI 3:44.81 .
13 1096 Leonel Manzano USA 3:47.98 .
Intermediate Bib Athlete Nation Mark
400m 656 Daniel Kipchirchir Komen KEN 57.08
800m 656 Daniel Kipchirchir Komen KEN 1:55.88
1,200m 376 Deresse Mekonnen ETH 2:54.60

 

Last Lap Of Heat #2

A Happy Ciaran O'Lionaird After Making 1500m Final at 2011 Worlds
 

Asbel Kiprop After Winning Heat 2 Men's 1500 Semifinal 2011 World Championships

Leo Manzano's Injured Leg

 Daniel Komen After Not Making 2011 Worlds 1500m Final

 

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