It’s not often that team tactics are used at major championships. It’s even rarer that they work whether it was by luck or design, the Kenyan trio in tonight’s 1500m final at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 ran together for much of the race and were rewarded with two out of a possible three medals.
The winner, however, was not the man who had won the past three titles. Instead, Asbel Kiprop could only look on as his teammates Elijah Manangoi and Timothy Cheruiyot battled it out for top honours.
Cheruiyot was the early leader. He was joined by Manangoi as they covered the first lap in 1:01.63 with Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s Chris O’Hare and Czech Republic’s Jakub Holusa following close behind.
Kiprop moved up into third place just before the half-way mark, ensuring Kenya filled the top three spots with just two laps to go. At the 800-metre mark, the Kenyan trio had a lead of about five metres on the rest of the field but it didn’t last long as Norway’s Filip Ingebrigtsen detached himself from the chase pack in a bid to join the leaders.
As the bell sounded for the final lap, Spain’s Adel Mechaal and Bahrain’s Sadik Mikhou had joined Ingebrigtsen on the heels of the Kenyan leaders. Cheruiyot and Manangoi were moving through the gears in their drive for the line, but Kiprop started to struggle.
Ingebrigtsen moved into third place with half a lap to go, but couldn’t quite get on terms with Cheruiyot and Manangoi. The Kenyan duo entered the home straight side by side, but Manangoi proved the stronger of the two, kicking on to win in 3:33.61.
“It was such a good race and I’m so pleased to be a world champion,” said Manangoi, whose younger brother George won the world U18 title over the same distance last month. “I had a difficult race as Timothy raced very well, but I had that extra strength.”
Cheruiyot took silver in 3:33.99 while Ingebrigtsen held on for third, clocking 3:34.53. Mechaal crossed the line in fourth, just about holding off a fast-finishing Holusa, who had overtaken Mikhou further up the home straight.
Marcin Lewandowski and Nick Willis rounded out the top eight as Kiprop placed a distant ninth.
It was the third time in the past four World Championships that Kenyan athletes had filled the top two spots in the men’s 1500m.