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Kenyan trio hunt for 1500m title: Cheruiyot, Simotwo and Kipsang battle for slots in semi-finals today

ATHLETICS By Stephen Rutto | August 2nd 2021
World 1500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot (right) competing in a pack of 1500m race during the national trials for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games at The Moi International Sports Stadium, Kasarani, June 19, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya last won an Olympic 1500m gold in 2008 in Beijing when Asbel Kiprop was awarded the medal after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi was disqualified over doping.

And 3:05am today, the Kenyan trio of World 1500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot, Charles Simotwo and Abel Kipsang will be tackling the tough assignment of booking tickets to the semi-finals slated for Thursday.

They will be seeking to save the country blushes in the distance.

Veterans have stormed to stunning Olympic victories in the men’s 1500m since the 1960s and Kenya’s hopes are on the trio.

Kipchoge Keino triumphed in 1968 Mexico City Olympics, with Peter Rono securing the gold the 1988’s games in 1988 and Noah Ng’eny bringing the title home from Sydney in the year 2000 before Asbel Kiprop clinched it in Beijing ’08.’

Noah Ng’eny set the Olympic record of 3:32.07 in the Sydney edition, a mark that track stars will be seeking to break in Tokyo.

Cheruiyot and his team will be joining the Ingebrigtsen brothers Filip and Yakob in battling for semi-final tickets.

In June last year, Cheruiyot, in a team comprising Commonwealth Games champion Elijah Manangoi and Edwin Meli faced off with the Ingebrigtsens in a virtual race.

But the Norwegian trio of Henrik, Filip and Jakob Ingebrigsten claimed victory at the Maurie Plant Memorial 2000m virtual race, an event in the Impossible Games. Another opportunity for the Cheruiyot and his team of Simotwo and Kipsang to face-off again has been presented, in case they meet in the trials, semi-finals, or even in the finals set for Saturday.

Samuel Abate, 21 who in June, ran a qualifying time for the 2020 Olympics with a 3:32.80 performance at the Ethiopian Olympic Trials, finishing second to Teddese Lemi, also 21, will be seeking a place at the semi-finals alongside their more decorated compatriot Samuel Tefera.

In 2019, Tefera set a new world indoor record over 1500 metres on the World Indoor Tour in Birmingham, England in a time of 3:31.04

He is the 2018 1500m World indoor Champion. In 2019, he ran 3:31.39 in outdoor.

Morocco entered world 3000m steeplechase silver medalist Soufiane El Bakkali who had also qualified for the 3000m steeplechase set to be run this afternoon.

El Bakkali will be seeking to sail through to semi-finals alongside his countryman Anass Essayi, the 2018 1,500m All-Africa Youth Games silver medalist. He is also a Pan Arab Athletics Championships bronze medalist. Abdelatif Sadiki, Pan Arab 1500m silver medalist is also in the team.

Fourty five athletes will be battling it out for the semi-final places in tomorrow’s round one race.

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