KIPROP, MAN TO BEAT IN RIO GAMES: Asbel draws inspiration from Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj ahead of next year’s Olympics

Kenya's Asbel Kiprop (C) reacts as he croses the finish line ahead of Kenya's Elijah Motonei Manangoi, Morocco's Abdalaati Iguider (lower) and Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi in the final of the men's 1500 metres athletics event at the 2015 IAAF World Championships at the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium in Beijing on August 30, 2015. AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN

Asbel Kiprop longs to win the 2016 Olympic Games title in Rio, Brazil next year.

Asbel, who was awarded the 2012 Olympic gold after Algeria’s Rashid Ramzi was stripped of the title, hopes to head to the 'samba nation' and win the title squarely on the tracks.

He is the only Kenyan to have won gold medals in 1,500m at the IAAF World Championships –Daegu (2011), Moscow (2013) and this year's event in Beijing, China.

For this reason, Morocco’s world record holder Hicham El Guerrouj has always tipped him to break the world record.

“El Guerrouj congratulated me when I ran 3:26.69 (the third fastest time) in Monaco last July. I met him in Morocco last year during the Inter-Continental Cup and shared some moments. He is my mentor and a friend,” said Asbel.

El Guerrouj remains confident that Asbel can break his record. He told IAAF: “The 1,500m world record is difficult, but it can be broken. However, the only athlete I currently see capable of breaking it is Asbel Kiprop.

“He has everything you need. He’s tall, he’s got a long stride, he has strength, he’s strong mentally; perhaps he needs to work a little on his technique, but he’s the only one I see who has the characteristics. In fact, I think he could go under 3:25. It won’t be easy, but he can do it.”

The Moroccan said Asbel runs a lot (of races) and feels that he’s not setting his priorities clearly. “In 2016, he has the chance to win his second Olympic title."

"He does have all the characteristics to break the world record, but he’s also going to have to set his priorities,” said El Guerrouj, who holds the record at 26:00.0.

Asbel’s father David Kebenei, who has a personal best of 3:36.47, finished fourth in 1,500m at the 1987 All Africa Games in Nairobi.

Asbel said: “I have started my preparations and I am happy that I have strong training partners in Iten who include Commonwealth Games champion James Magut, world silver medallist Elijah Manangoi and former Africa champion Haroun Keitany.”

“We have a strong foundation and hope to train in Iten until February then we switch base to Eldoret for some speed-work at Kipchoge Stadium as we prepare to compete in a few local races,” said Kiprop.

As usual, he will start his first IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha, Qatar on May 6, 2016.
“I am determined to win the title on the tracks. And if I maintain the shape I had in Beijing, then victory would come my way,” he said.

And truly, history favours him. In 1990, former vice President Kalonzo presented an award to his father David Kebenei after winning 1,500m at the national championships at Nyayo National Stadium.

And 20 years later, Kalonzo again presented Kiprop with the gold medal after he won the 1,500m title at the Africa Championships at Nyayo Stadium.


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