August 18, 2013
Moscow, Russia – There is no doubt about it, Asbel Kiprop of Kenya is the best miler on the planet. In case you didn’t know, Matt Centrowitz is a pretty damn good Championship racer too. Kiprop powered to gold the final 100m, and Centrowitz was the best of everyone else to pick up silver, as South Africa’s Johan Cronje snuck up on the inside for bronze in the men’s 1500 tonight at the 2013 IAAF World Championships (Race video here).
The question mark heading into this one was whether the three Kenyan runners in the field, Kiprop, 2011 World Championship silver medallist Silas Kiplagat, and Nixon Chepseba, who had lifetime bests nearly two seconds faster than the rest of the field, would work together to ensure a faster pace and a possible medal sleep.
There appeared to be some Kenyan team work in the early goings of this one Asbel Kiprop led the first lap in a modest 59.68, then his Kenyan teammate Nixon Chepseba took over the second lap which was reached in a modest 1:59.34.
The Kenyans were leading but they were not pushing the pace. Was it now Silas Kiplagat’s turn to lead? No, at 800m despite the slow pace, Chepseba had actually opened up a slight gap on the rest of the field led by Kiprop. Silas Kiplagat was in the pack running in lane 2.
Chepseba kept leading on the third lap and he picked up the pace, hitting 1200 in 2:56.41, but the field had closed the gap to be on him at the bell.
This one came down to the final 100m as most of the field was still in contention. Chepseba hit the homestretch with the lead with Kiprop right behind him and the field right there (photo on right with 70-80 meters left). Once the full sprinting got going Asbel Kiprop was clearly best, American Matt Centrowitz moved up for silver, and Johan Cronje of South Africa snuck by Chepseba on the rail for bronze.
After the race, Kiprop revealed there was a Kenyan strategy, but it was just not executed. The plan was for Silas Kiplagat to lead the first lap in 57, Kiprop to lead the second lap in another 57 (1:54 for 800), and then have Nixon Chepseba take them through 1200 in 2:53 hopefully. The plan fell apart when Kiplagat did not take the lead on the first lap as expected.
Quick Takes below.
QT #1: Asbel Kiprop Is the Best 1500m Runner in the World
Slow race, fast race, it doesn’t matter. He’s the best.
He was prepared this year and it showed. We only saw him losing if it was a super slow race (over 3:40) or if he made a tactical mistake. Neither happened today.
“As I already ran 3:27 this year, I was ready for any kind of race,” he said.
There will be no celebration for Kiprop, “I cannot celebrate now. I have to finish the Diamond League meetings I am invited to. Next season, I want to run even faster.”
That coincided with Kiprop saying after his 3:27 in Monaco this year he would like to attack the world record next year in Monaco where Kiprop has run fast twice at 1500m and once at 800m.
(If you’d like to watch the men’s 1500m press conference it is here).
QT #2: Silver for Centro Makes it 3, 4, and 2 In The World the Last 3 Years
If Kiprop is the best 1500m runner in the world under any circumstances, Centro is the second best in a slower race. Bronze two years ago, fourth last year, silver here. No one else in the World has that consistency, although Kiprop has two golds with an injury costing him at last year’s Olympics.
Centro bounced back nicely from the heartbreak of last year’s fourth place and he put his erratic performances before Worlds this year behind him. “I am pleased to get back on the podium like I did in 2011. Coming 4th at the Olympics was the hardest thing I had to go through. I thought about it all year in training. Today, I tried to stay as close as possible to Kiprop to see if there was the possibility to surprise him at the end, but he is on another level right now. There is so many tactics involved in the 1500m. The podium is totally different from last year, which shows how difficult it is to medal.
QT#3 None of the London Medallists Made the Final Here
Centro pointed out above the podium is totally different this year than last year, but we’ll go one step further and point out that none of last year’s medallists – Taoufik Makhloufi, Leo Manzano, nor Abdalaati Iguider – made the final here with Makhloufi not competing. There can be a lot of variability in tactical 1500m racing but the cream often rises to the crop as Kiprop showed today and Makhloufi last year. Centrowitz has incredible tactics and good speed and his 3rd, 4th, 2nd show that (and remember last year he was injured for a big chunk of time in the spring).
QT #4 Centro Has a Knee Issue And May Not Compete The Rest of This Year
Centro was non-committal about his plans the rst of the year as he said he has been having a knee issue. Post-race reaction from Centro below. (If you’d like to watch the men’s 1500m press conference it is here).
QT#5 Perseverance paid off for the 31 year old South African Johan Cronje.
This was Cronje’s third Worlds and first final. The 2004 Olympian, didn’t even make the Olympics last year, but he started of 2012 with a bang by running a South African national record of 3:33.46 in Doha. After that race, Cronje felt he could run 3:31 in the right conditions. However, he then started racing worse and worse (3:37.91 for 8th in Hengelo at the start of June) and with his wife having their first child he returned to South Africa just to train. The training paid off and he took advantage of his first world final and a gift from Chepseba to get the bronze.
Cronje said one difficulty with being South African and in the Southern Hemisphere is the seasons are reversed and don’t match-up with the World Athletics schedule. He needs to be in shape for the South African nationals in March/April of each year. The break because of his poor racing and his first child definitely worked out well.
QT #6:The Kenyan Tactical Mistakes
While Kiprop ran a beautiful race, his Kenyan teammates made three big mistakes so they get their own special section.
Kenyan Mistake #1: Silas Kiplagat Did Not Execute the Kenyan Strategy
Silas Kiplagat has no one to blame but himself for not executing the Kenyan strategy which was for him to lead the first lap in 57 seconds. Kiplagat started out as the 12th guy on the line. From that spot, it is impossible to get boxed in off the line, yet Kiplagat did not take the lead. The 100m splits for everyone in the race are here. Kiprop’s first 100m was 13.41. If that was too fast for Kiplagat he had plenty of time to take the lead after the first turn as 400m was only reached in 59.79.
If the race was a fast one, we don’t see anyone breaking up the Kenyans particularly for first and second, instead they got only one medal. Perhaps Kiplagat thought the plan would cost him gold against Kiprop, but by not executing the plan, he cost himself a medal of any color.
Kenyan Mistake #2: Kiplagat Ran the Entire Race in Lane 2
Can some physics geek rewatch the race and guesstimate how far Kiplagat ran? After not executing the agreed upon strategy, Kiplagat then ran a terrible tactical race running nearly all of it in lane 2. Asbel Kiprop may have run 1500m faster than Silas Kiplagat on Sunday, but we’re not sure as Kiplagat probably ran 1540 meters.
Kenyan Mistake #3: Chepseba Letting Cronje Pass on the Inside
Nixon Chepseba tried to make up for Kiplagat not taking the lead by leading laps two and three. He made this race what it ended up being, but he ended up .04 fro the medal stand. Inconceivably, he let Johan Cronje pass him on the inside to get the bronze.
QT #7 Chris O’Hare Just Doesn’t Have It
NCAA star Chris O’Hare of Britain was in good position mid race stalking Matt Centrowitz, but when the racing started going O’Hare just didn’t have it. On the BBC telecast he said, “It’s been a hell of a journey. I wish I just didn’t have to do this interview. I just didn’t have it today. My legs were just fired and fatigued. I fought hard for it for ages and it just wouldn’t come, but I can’t be too disappointed I don’t want to act like a spoiled brat.”
A separate interview with O’Hare appears below.
|4||Nixon Kiplimo CHEPSEBA||KEN||3:36.87|
|800m||Nixon Kiplimo CHEPSEBA||KEN||1:59.24|
|1200m||Nixon Kiplimo CHEPSEBA||KEN||2:56.41|
Get all of our 1500m coverage in our 1500m Worlds Special Page.