Kenyans anxious for golden night

Kenya’s Elijah Motonei Manangoi leads the field in the men’s 1500m semi-final ahead of Asbel Kiprop on Friday. [AP]

There will be no love lost when Kenyans battle for medals in the men’s 1,500m final tonight in London.

World silver medalist and season leader Elijah Manangoi, reigning three-time champion Asbel Kiprop and Timothy Cheruiyot are expected to deliver medals for Kenya on the final day of the biennial showpiece.

Manangoi and Asbel finished first and second in semi-final one on Friday night and not only was the finishing order identical, the race also played out in a similar manner.

Asbel, 28, who makes his sixth appearance at the worlds, said: “I have a lot of experience from World Championship races, I’ve been doing this for many years and I’m ready for anything.

“It was very tactical race but there was a lot of pushing, so I stayed at the back to stay out of trouble.

“I knew I had the speed in my legs over the last lap, but I just waited for my moment to ease through and qualify. It was all about staying out of danger today and having a shot at gold in the finals.”

Spurred into life by the sound of the bell, Manangoi made a hard move with just over 400m remaining. At this point, Asbel was still right at the back but the champion gradually moved into position down the back straight.

Manangoi held the inside lane the entire way around the final circuit to ensure the semi-final win in 3:40.10 while Asbel – sixth at the top of the home straight – relied on his fast finish to pick off four athletes, finishing second in 3:40.14.

The pace in the second semifinal was moderately faster. Cheruiyot, with his distinctive forward-leaning gait, was a willing leader through 800m in 2:00.90 – compared to 2:03.95 in the first semifinal – which set the pace for a faster race as the first seven finishers all qualified for the final.

Cheruiyot looked on course for a gun-to-tape semifinal win until world indoor silver medallist Jakub Holusa from the Czech Republic darted through on the inside to qualify as a semifinal winner in 3:38.05 ahead of Cheruiyot in 3:38.24.

Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski finished quickly to secure third place in 3:38.32, ahead of Briton Chris O’Hare (3:38.59) and Morocco’s Fouad Elkaam (3:38.64) who all qualified automatically.

But one noteworthy athlete to miss out on a place in the final is Kenyan champion Ronald Kwemoi, who has looked mightily impressive on this season's IAAF Diamond League circuit over 1500m and 3000m.

But in his last race before the championships, Kwemoi hobbled off the track in Monaco and the 21-year-old was a far cry from his early season shape in London, finishing ninth in 3:39.47.

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