Kenya spoilt for choice as 1,500m duel begins

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By AYUMBA AYODI
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Kenya’s 1,500 metres foursome, led by world defending champion Asbel Kiprop, is already dreaming of a sweep of the first four places in the men’s 1,500m.

The first round will be held on Thursday.

Kiprop declared Wednesday that he had rediscovered his form after a torrid Diamond League season while hot favourite World 1,500m silver medallist Elijah Manangoi vowed to put behind Rio Olympics injury disappointment with a gold upgrade in London.

Timothy Cheruiyot, a seventh place finisher two years ago in Beijing and debutant World junior 1,500m record holder Ronald Kwemoi are also fancying their chances in London.

Manangoi, Cheruiyot and Kwemoi have the fastest times this season with Manangoi topping with 3:28.80 from his victory in Monaco on July 27.

Cheruiyot’s second place of 3:29.10 from Monaco ranks him second. Kwemoi is next with a superb Kenyan trials win of 3:30.89. Kiprop failed to defend his Bowerman Mile race in Eugene, finishing outside the top five in the 800m race in London and 1,500m in Stockholm.

He also did not finish in his race during the Kenyan trials.

“I am here not to add to the numbers but defend my title effectively,” he said.

“My Diamond League performances are behind me. We have trained so well in Kasarani and for sure I am 100 per ready for the championship,” said Kiprop, who is seeking to equal Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj’s record of four world championships wins.

“I have had a lukewarm season but that is all gone. All I need to do is qualify automatically from the heats and semi-finals then see how it goes in the final,” said Kiprop.

He confidently predicted that Kenyans were likely to sweep all the places if the final was covered in under 3:30.00.

“Anything above 3:40 will play in favour of our rivals,” said Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic champion.

Managoi said conducive weather would play a role but hastened to add that he was read for any eventuality.

He however said they would be wary of Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz (USA) and Olympic bronze medallist Nick Willis from New Zealand.

Manangoi said he was determined to make amends for the 2015 silver and withdrawing from the Rio Olympics final with an injury.

“The first round and semi-finals are always tricky hence we must navigate through them with caution. We might have performed well in the Diamond League but this championship event is different,” warned Cheruiyot.

Kwemoi said they were capable of delivering the first four places but must all reach the final. “It will even be easy to plan as a team with the four of us,” said Kwemoi.

He said that they were inspired by medal wins from compatriots Geoffrey Kirui (marathon gold), Faith Chepng’etich (1,500m gold) and Conseslus Kipruto (3,000m steeplechase gold).

“They have inspired us to go for victory,” said Kwemoi.

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