After being cheated out of his Olympic moment in 2008, Kenyan 1500m man enjoys justice as he crosses the line first in same stadium
Asbel Kiprop was either supremely confident of his sprint or tactically naïve as he entered the last lap of the men’s 1500m boxed in 10th place. It turned out to be the former as the tall Kenyan glided past his rivals over the final 400m to win gold in 3:34.40.
With one of the most popular victories of the championships, the 26-year-old was denied his moment of Olympic glory at the 2008 Games in Beijing seven years ago when he received gold only after winner Rashid Ramzi was disqualified for doping.
So to see the graceful Kenyan take his third consecutive 1500m world title on Sunday in the same Chinese city was well received by the crowd.
Yet rarely has a major championships winner of a metric mile been so far off the pace at the bell. Kiprop’s team-mate Elijah Manangoi led the field with Taoufik Makhloufi, the Olympic champion from Algeria, surging into the lead down the back straight – similar to the tactics he used to win in London 2012.
Kiprop, though, was cutting through the pack and entered the home straight in third behind Abdelaati Iguider of Morocco and leader Makhloufi. From then on, he loped into pole position to take the title as Manangoi finished fast for silver, Iguider grabbed third and Makhloufi was fourth ahead of Kenya’s Silas Kiplagat with Nick Willis of New Zealand sixth, American hope Matt Centrowitz eighth and Britain’s Charlie Grice, who had run a good tactical race throughout, ninth.
In the high jump, Derek Drouin of Canada won after a nail-biting jump off for the medals.
There were big surprises as Mutaz Essa Barshim, the favourite from Qatar, was only fourth, while the event’s other big name and reigning champion, Bohdan Bondarenko, shared silver with big home nation hope Guowei Zhang.
Drouin and Zhang had a flawless run of first-time clearances until 2.36m. Meanwhile Bondarenko jumped more sparingly, passing a couple of heights. But 2.36m proved too hard for anybody, including Donald Thomas, the former champion from Bahamas, who had passed 2.33m in order to have a crack at it.
Ultimately, it boiled down to Drouin, Zhang and Bondarenko having to go into a sudden death contest at 2.36m for medals, but the trio failed the height, which meant it was brought down to 2.34m.
At that height, only Drouin could manage it – first time to boot – and the 25-year-old added world gold to his Commonwealth title from last year, Olympic bronze from 2012 and world bronze from 2013.
After the excitement of the high jump, the championships drew to a thrilling climax with an eventful men’s 4x400m that saw United States triumph over Trinidad & Tobago with Martyn Rooney anchoring the GB team superbly to win bronze ahead of Jamaica in a photo finish.
LaShawn Merritt led the US to the gold in 2:57.82 ahead of Trinidad’s national record of 2:58.20, while GB clocked 2:58.51 as Rooney and team-mates Rabah Yousif, Delano Williams and Jarryd Dunn made the podium.
Rooney said: “I’m very proud to be British and to be captain is amazing. Everyone in the team came here to do a job. Everyone rose to the occasion. No one came here just to be here and enjoy Beijing. They came here to make the Bird’s Nest their home and perform to the highest standards. It’s an incredible time for the sport in Britain and hopefully we can come back even stronger for the Olympics next year.”
» Much more in the September 3 issue of Athletics Weekly magazine