16 SEP 2006 General News

Men's 1500m

New Zealand’s Commonwealth champion Nick Willis (OCE) found himself in the lead at the start, and no-one seemed interested in taking it from him. So the first 400 metres went in 1:07.34, with Ivan Heshko (EUR-UKR) and Ramil Aritkulova (RUS) just behind him and the rest just jogging along. The second 400 was even slower (!), with Willis passing 800 metres in 2:19.20 and (need it be said), the rest of the field close.

The pace picked up as they went down the back straight for the third time, with favourite African champion Alex Kipchirchir (AFR-KEN) making a quick move and then tucking in behind Willis through the third 400 which went in 56.7. At that point Kipchirchir took the lead, and quickly moved to put the race away; but Heshko wasn’t ready to concede. The Kenyan, however, just had too much and he pulled away to win by 6 metres in a stunning 3:52.60, one of the slowest major 1500 races (3:52.60) and the fastest final 400 metres (49.4), any one now living has ever seen.

Said Kipchirchir, “It is different when you are running and winning for your continent and not only for Kenya.  My next big goal is the World Championship in Osaka.” 

World Indoor champion Heshko, whose last 400 was sub-51 and was second in 3:53.33, said, “It was a long season, so I’m getting tired and couldn’t do better.”

James Dunaway

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