Olympic Champion Matthew Centrowitz Eliminated in 1st Round of 1500 at 2017 World Champs

By Jonathan Gault
August 10, 2017

LONDON — Surprises are becoming the norm at the 2017 World Championships, and the latest came in the first round of the men’s 1500 meters on Thursday night as 2016 Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz finished last in his heat and failed to advance to Friday’s semifinals. Centrowitz was uncharacteristically out of position at the bell, and with the pace slow (the winning time would wind up being 3:45.93) he had a lot of work to do on the final lap. But Centrowitz did not make up any ground and found himself in last place midway down the homestretch, at which point he packed it in and came across last in 3:48.34.

(Editor’s note: For a recap of the other heats go here: Men’s 1500 Heats: Asbel Kiprop Looks Great, Ronald Kwemoi Struggle and Robby Andrews and Johnny Gregorek Move On )

Article continues below player

Tonight’s race was the culmination of a difficult year for the Olympic champion. Centrowitz ran an abbreviated indoor season in which he never quite looked like himself, but that was nothing compared to the struggles that awaited outdoors. Though Centrowitz looked great in his first 1500 of the year, running 3:33.41 to defeat Mo Farah at the USATF Distance Classic on May 18 in a matchup of Olympic champions, he would not race again until the U.S. championships over a month later. Centrowitz battled pericarditis — a swelling of the fluid-filled pericardium, a sac surrounding the heart — as well as an adductor injury for much of the spring and just three weeks before USAs, he dyed his hair and bought a one-way ticket to Las Vegas, thinking his season was over. (For a more detail on what Centrowitz went through, he gave an 11-minute interview at USAs describing his rough spring).

Centrowitz eventually decided to give it a go at USAs and he made the team, finishing second, but things have not gone smoothly since then. Centrowitz’s agent Ricky Simms told us that he developed a hamstring problem before Worlds — a separate injury to the ones that came before — that caused him to miss even more time before London.

“[It’s] just kind of been a culmination of everything that’s kind of gone on this year with all the things I’ve been battling, and it’s just been really hard the last few weeks,” Centrowitz said.

“Look, after USAs I’ve already given enough excuses this year. Everyone goes through injuries, this year, it’s just more than I’ve ever had in one season. I just felt like I never really was able to get more than a couple weeks of good training and healthy training. So I’m just kind of relieved more than frustrated right now. I just kind of [need] to get 100% and get ready for better results in the future.

“…I’ve just dealt with more [injuries] than I’ve ever had in my career and it showed out there today. My fitness is obviously not where I’d have liked to have been coming into these championships.”

Robby Andrews Expresses Shock in Finding Out Centro Didn’t Make Semifinals

After making the final in heat #2, the United States’ Robby Andrews was asked by veteran track journalist Elliott Denman if Centro not making it in heat #1 had any affect on him. Centro had no idea what Denman was talking about as they are not showing the heats in the call room.

When told Centro finished last, Andrews, with a look of bewilderment on his face, said, “Oh wow.” He then turned to USATF Chief Marketing Manager Jill Geer and asked if Centro was okay. Jill told him it was a matter of fitness, not injury and Andrews says again “Oh wow” and “That’s a bummer.”

Video below set to start when Andrews is asked about Centro:

Talk about Centro’s run on our fan forum: Centro goes home devastated 

Nick Willis’ reaction to hearing Centro is out (clip starts at relevant portion)

With Centrowitz out and silver medalist Taoufik Makhloufi not running this season, Willis is now the top returner from last year’s Olympic final still alive in London. Though he looked surprised to hear the news of Centro’s exit, he wasn’t totally shocked.

“I heard somewhere that he called up his dad and told him not to bother coming, so that might have been an indicator he wasn’t that confident in how it was going,” Willis said.

1 1140 Elijah Motonei MANANGOI KENKEN 3:45.93 Q
2 1134 Asbel KIPROP KENKEN 3:45.96 Q
3 987 Timo BENITZ GERGER 3:46.01 Q
4 1176 Abdalaati IGUIDER MARMAR 3:46.03 Q
5 1245 Marcin LEWANDOWSKI POLPOL 3:46.06 Q
6 657 Jordan WILLIAMSZ AUSAUS 3:46.11 Q
7 938 Mahiedine MEKHISSI FRAFRA 3:46.17
8 903 Samuel TEFERA ETHETH 3:46.22
9 1228 David TORRENCE PERPER 3:46.39
10 841 Ayanleh SOULEIMAN DJIDJI 3:46.64
11 963 Josh KERR GBRGBR 3:47.30
12 602 Abderrahmane ANOU ALGALG 3:47.38
13 858 David BUSTOS ESPESP 3:47.52
14 1381 Matthew CENTROWITZ USAUSA 3:48.34

For a recap of the other heats go here:  Men’s 1500 Heats: Asbel Kiprop Looks Great, Ronald Kwemoi Struggle and Robby Andrews and Johnny Gregorek Move On If you think heats are boring, then you shouldn‘t be on this website. 2,000 + words of analysis.