September 5, 2014
Taoufik Makhloufi is once again on top of the 1500m world.
Will the critics be silenced?
Makhloufi, the Algerian whose domination of the 2012 Olympic 1500 final coupled with a largely non-existent 2013 had raised a few eyebrows on the doping front, is ending his 2014 season with a flourish.
On Sunday, he set a new 800 pb of 1:43.53 in Berlin. Today in the Diamond League final at the Memorial van Damme in Brussels, he beat all of the world’s top 1500 runners and won in 3:31.78 just ahead of Silas Kiplagat in 3:31.80 in a thrilling race where both men celebrated before the finish line in the final 100.
World indoor champ Ayanleh Souleiman was third in 3:32.82. A win by Souleiman would have given him the DL points title and $40,000. Instead, the $40,000 prize went to Kiplagat. Two-time World outdoor, one-time Olympic champ Asbel Kiprop, who would have won the DL title by simply beating Kiplagat and Souleiman and finishing in the top 3, didn’t have the goods in the final 150 today and was just 12th in the 3:34.41. Once out of it, Kiprop coasted in the final meters and that enabled Olympic 10,000 silver medallist Galen Rupp to get a nice scalp as he passed Kiprop just before the line to finish in 11th in a new pb of 3:34.15 (previous pb of 3:34.75).
Kiprop wasn’t the only 1500 big gun to be off his game today. 2014 Commonwealth champ James Magut was 14th in 3:39.26, and American Leo Manzano, who lost contact with the field with 500 meters remaining, was last (15th) in 3:42.62.
The Race – Both Kiplagat and Makhloufi Celebrate Early
The race started modestly by Diamond League standards. Rabbit Andrew Rotich took the field through decent splits of 54.99 for 400 and 1:52.99 for 800, but the only racer really close to that pace was Aman Wote. With $40,000 on the line, the major players were playing it safe. At 800, Makhloufi was roughly a second back of the rabbit with Kiprop 1.9 back and Rupp right near Kiprop (we had Rupp at an unofficial 1:55.1 at 800).
Wote, who assumed the lead once the last rabbit stepped off before the bell, slowed significantly over the next 400 and the field caught up to him. Wote hit 1200 in the lead in 2:51.26 but 12 of the 15 guys in the field were still in contention. On the backstretch, the field still stayed tightly bunched and all 12 were still there within a second of each other entering the final turn. Just before the start of the final turn, Makhloufi went to the lead and accelerated for home.
He gapped the field midway through the turn by a few meters. Makhloufi came off the turn still leading and he thought he had the race in the bag. One-third of the way down the homestretch, he raised his left arm to show off to the camera on his inside as shown here:
There was one small problem, however. Makhloufi didn’t realize that Silas Kiplagat, who had navigated his way out of traffic, was coming from behind very quickly. Kiplagat had been shadowing Kiprop throughout the race and was just 9th at the bell and still 8th or 9th with 200 remaining. In the final 100, he turned on the jets and was coming like a bullet. In the final 50, Kiplagat pulled up next to Makhloufi and then Kiplagat got the tiniest bit ahead. As the two neared the line, Makhloufi started to come back on Kiplagat. Who would win?
Makhloufi’s win was helped by the fact that Kiplagat put his arms up to celebrate we believe his $40,000 jackpot right at the line. We think Makhloufi likely would have come back on Kiplagat without Kiplagat’s premature celebration but aren’t 100% sure as this one was tight.
Bizarre final 100m from the two guys up front.
Video highlights for USA visitors:
Quick Thought #1: A great win for Makhloufi.
Doubters think his 2012 Olympic 1500 victory, which featured a 12.6 100 from 1200 to 1300, was too dominant. But people need to remember that Silas Kiplagat and Asbel Kiprop were totally off their games in the Olympic final. In London, the guy closest to Makhloufi not named Kiprop or Kiplagat was Leo Manzano, some .78 behind. Today, the top guy behind Makhloufi not named Kiprop or Kiplagat was Souleiman and he was even further behind (1.04). Yet this race wasn’t shocking to the eye.
Quick Thought #2: So much for not celebrating early.
Earlier this year, Makhloufi made waves for blowing the 800 in Shanghai by celebrating early. He told us at Prefontaine (Taoufik Makhloufi talks about his famous premature celebration) that he’d learned his lesson and wouldn’t celebrate early again. So much for that.
Quick Thought #3: A modest PB for Galen Rupp is what most people expected.
The fact that the 10,000 star Rupp was running in a top-notch DL 1500 created a lot of buzz on the messageboard this week as it was sort of like “Fantasy Track” in real life. Fans got a rare treat and got to have a hypothetical question of “What would runner x do if he competed in x” answered.
The most popular pick in our LRC pre-race fan poll was that Rupp would get a modest pb (45%). That’s exactly what he did tonight. A decent showing, but the end of this race showed why Rupp struggles at 5000. His kick just isn’t amazing at anything less than 10,000.
Rupp was one of 12 guys that was in the lead pack with 200 to go as this one became very tactical between 900 and 1300. That’s a rare sight in the DL. Galen Rupp ended up 11th out of those 12 at the finish.
Quick Thought #4: A bad result for Kiprop, Hello World #1 for Kiplagat.
Kiprop and Kiplagat both played it conservative trying to win the $40,000. Kiprop just didn’t have it at the end. Kiplagat’s second place finish today will probably seal the world #1 ranking for him. Head to head this year at 1500/mile, they are now 3-3, but Kiplagat is the world leader.
Discuss this race in our messageboard: Rupp Beats Kiprop and Manzano
1 Makhloufi , Taoufik ALG 3:31.78 8
2 Kiplagat , Silas KEN 3:31.80 4
3 Souleiman , Ayanleh DJI 3:32.82 2
4 Cheboi , Collins KEN 3:32.85
5 Wote , Aman ETH 3:32.94
6 Tesfaye , Homiyu GER 3:33.22
7 Ingebrigtsen , Henrik NOR 3:33.47
8 Kibet , Vincent KEN 3:33.58
9 Gebremedhin , Mekonnen ETH 3:33.70
10 Iguider , Abdalaati MAR 3:33.78
11 Rupp , Galen USA 3:34.15
12 Kiprop , Asbel KEN 3:34.41
13 Hannes , Pieter-Jan BEL 3:37.65
14 Magut , James Kiplagat KEN 3:39.26
15 Manzano , Leonel USA 3:42.62
Rotich , Andrew Kiptoo KEN DNF
Kombich , Ismael Kipngetich KEN DNF
400m ROTICH, Andrew Kiptoo (KEN)54.99
800m ROTICH, Andrew Kiptoo (KEN)1:52.99
1200m WOTE, Aman (ETH)2:51.26