Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria sits on the track in the Men's 1500m Semi Final on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 5, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Kiprop, the Beijing winner four years ago and this season’s world leader, is hoping to emulate Coe, the LOCOG Chairman, who won back-to-back metric mile titles in 1980 and 1984. With the first five from each of the two semi-final races moving on automatically into Tuesday night’s final, the Kenyan advanced easily after his second place finish in the first heat.
Apparently preferring a sluggish, tactical race Kiprop controlled the proceedings from the outset. The lanky Kenyan moved to the front at the gun, leading the field through opening laps 63.73 and 63.47. By the time he brought the field through 1200m with a 55.96 third lap, gears were already shifting behind him as the followers jockeyed for position.
As he did in the opening round, 24-year-old Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi sped ahead and into the lead to win the heat in 3:42.24. After the race he was seen being assisted off the track and hobbling slightly.
Kiprop (3:42.92) was next, although nearly inseparable from Mekonnen Gebremehdin of Ethiopia and American Leo Manzano who were each just 0.01 ahead of the next, respectively. Henrik Ingebrigtsen, Norway’s 21-year-old European champion, closed fast to nab the final qualifying spot.
"I felt really good," Kiprop said. "I was excited, although it was a slow race and I prayed that I would finish well. I was controlling the race but I was surprised that the rest of the field could kick hard in the end."
Silas Kiplagat and Nixon Chepseba finished second and fourth, respectively, in the second and faster heat, keeping Kenyan hopes of a podium sweep – the first in 108 years - alive.
Chepseba, who advanced from the first round after a protest by the Kenyan team, avoided any trouble tonight by taking the lead and maintaining for more than 1200 metres. He was first passed by Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco who sped away to win comfortably in 3:33.99, with Kiplagat closing fast to take second in 3:34.60. Nic Willis, the 2008 silver medallist, closed well with a relaxed 3:34.70 for third ahead of Chepseba (3:34.89).
Daegu bronze medallist Matt Centrowitz clocked a PB 3:34.90 for fifth while Ilham Tanui Ozbilen (3:35.18) and Belal Mansoor Ali (3:35.40) of Bahrain advanced on time.
"I’m going to be running against very experienced guys in the final," Chepseba said. For the Kenyan athletes, teamwork is going to be what works."
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF