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Olympic aths preview - men's 1500m

With action on the track kicking off today, the previews will be coming thick and fast. Few will contain the detail provided by Peter Kingston in this race. Follow him @kingstonpeter85

1500 m Mens Preview Heats 3/8, Semis 5/8, Final 7/8.

I am lucky enough to have got tickets in the lottery for what I consider to be the blue riband event of men’s athletics. My interest in betting along with the chance to research the race I’m going to see has inspired me to try and find the winner. 1500 metres is the ultimate test of speed and endurance, throw into the mix the need for a tactical nous in Championship races and you’ve got it all. 3 and ¾ laps of the track, .93 of a mile, the 1500m world record is held by Hicham El Guerrouj at 3.26.00. The world best this year is 3.28.88 from bookies favourite Asbel Kiprop, so there is a fine standard for this middle distance race, worthy to add their names to a list of legends who won Olympic gold; Paavo Nurmi, Ronnie Delaney, Kipchoge Keino, Seb Coe (Only man to win Olympics twice) and El Guerrouj to name a few.

The 1500m Olympic Final whilst always finds a worthy winner, is rarely run at a time unattainable to the majority of the field unlike say 100-400m. The Olympic record is 3.32.07 for example, a time 14 of the qualifiers have achieved by PB’s. That is not a good parameter but shows that the final is often tactical, has no pacemakers like the diamond league and by the clock, opens the chance of Gold to quite a few. The 3 Kenyans hold all the aces in this renewal, especially the defending champion trying to emulate Seb Coe. Here are some of the main protagonists;

Asbel Kiprop

The most graceful and gifted athlete in the field. Defending World and Olympic champion (Finished 2nd but Ramzi dq for doping). He holds the fastest season and personal best with a blistering 3.28.88 in Monaco in late July. Kiprop is the 5th fastest 1500m runner in history. All that said, it does not translate into Gold. Championship racing does not always suit the 23 year old from the famous Eldoret in Kenya, a region which has produced and continues to produce world class athletes. The inability to deal with tactical races, especially those rough and slowly run makes you think twice about him at 5/4. To contradict that point he seems to be getting his act together winning in Daegu last year in 3.35. For him to win, I feel Kiprop will have to keep it simple, stay near the fore and kick with a circuit to go to make it a true 1500m test. The faster the pace in the race, the more confident you would be of the cream rising to the top. I’ve little doubt Kiprop is the best athlete, equally I couldn’t trust him to get it done in a slowly run affair.

Silas Kipligat

Kipligat is 22 and also Kenyan. He beat Kiprop in Doha early in the season in a quick PB of 3.29.63. Watching that race back, Kiprop was unlucky on the home turn and should have won. Kipligat won the Kenyan trials, from Chepseba and Kiprop in 3rd. He won his last race, a mile in London in 3.52. The second favourite is clearly a world class athlete, but I feel that Kiprop has his measure no matter what. He will be a marked man and hasn’t quite the class of Kiprop to make it happen in a championship race with no one to drag him along. There is no value in his price in my opinion.

Nixon Chepseba

The youngest of the Kenyan flyers at 21, Chepseba is the least experienced. As a result though he may be the most unexposed and may have the improvement necessary to upstage his more fancied countrymen. He has two sub 3.30 performances this year, winning in Hengelo and behind Kiprop in Monaco. Chepseba won impressive in Zurich last year in the diamond league when beating both Kiprop and Kipligat. Kiprop looked pedestrian and Kipligat caught napping when Chepseba kicked for home on the last turn. He is 9/1, Kipligat 11/4 and there is no real difference between the pair, and you could argue the disparity between him and Kiprop is also to big. He has two sub 3.30 this year to his armoury and is improving at a rate of knots.

Abdalaati Iguider

The 25 year old Moroccan won the world indoors in March. He has a PB of .3.31.47 in 2009 and won the world Juniors back in 2004. He only has a seasons best of 3.34 this year which is a slight worry. He is a classy athlete but should find a few too good.

Mekannen Gebremdhin

23 year old Ethiopian has been consistent in the past 3 years posting a seasons best in the 3.31’s each year. He was 3rd in the World indoors and ran 3.31.45 in Monaco and similar in Hengelo this year. He should be at the heart of the race in the final, but again should find a few too good.

Ayanleh Souleiman

Lively outsider?! The 19 year old from Dijibouti posted a PB this year of 3.30.31 in Hengelo. He seemed to start off his career over further, running 7.42 for 3,000. He could be improving rapidly and is an exciting prospect over 1500m.

Amine Laalou - just failed a doping test so he's going home...

Nick Willis

The Bejing silver medallist from New Zealand ran a 3.30.35 in Monaco and is in the shape of his life. Willis ran 1.45 for 800m back in 2004 and had his fair share of troubles with knee surgery in 2010. Astute tactically from watching his races, he bucked the trend when running with pacemakers in a recent London Mile, went through in 2.50 and a last lap of 63/64 secs put pay to his chances of winning. From my more familiar horse racing analysis, he was better than the bare result suggested!

Others to note;

Makloufi Toufik (Algerian) Running more this season. Improving rapidly. Impressive PB’s of 1.43.88 for 800m and 3.30.80 for 1500m in Monaco both this year suggest he’s one to watch!

Matthew Centrowitz (USA) Bronze in Daegu. Father twice Olympian and top coach. 2 nd in US trials to Manzano. PB of 3.34 in Monaco. Ran 800 PB in Dublin last week though nothing special, 1.48.

Ozbile (Turkey) 22 year old Kenyan Born. 2nd in world indoors. PB of 3.31.37. Talented.

Ciaran O’Lionaird (Ireland) PB of 3.34. Part of Nike Oregon Project for a time along with Centrowitz, Rupp and Mo Farah. Hampered with Achilles injury. May make final. Needs to run clever. Ability.

Ross Murray (GBR) Ran a good Mile in London recently and has PB of 3.34. Could make Final.

Recommendations prior to Heats;

3pts Kiprop to beat Kipligat 4/6 Ladbrokes Match Betting

1pt Each Way Makloufi 50/1 Ladbrokes EW 1/5 1,2,3.

May have another look after the final line-up has been decided.

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