Asbel Kiprop, who had finished a frustrating fourth at each of the past World Championship finals, tonight delivered gold to become only the third man in history to hold both Olympic and World 1500m gold medals.
Kiprop had too much strength and speed down the home straight to hold off his Kenyan compatriot Silas Kiplagat by 0.23 to take top spot in 3:35.69. It was the first time in history that Kenya claimed gold in this event and also the first time one nation had occupied the top two slots in the final.
A surprising bronze medal winner was US champion Matt Centrowitz, the youngest man in the final, who finished like a train to take bronze in 3:36.08 ahead of the European Indoor champion Manuel Olmedo of Spain (3:36.33).
Curiously, it was Nick Willis who took up the early pace. Curious because the New Zealander had been carried out of the stadium on a stretcher suffering from exhaustion only two nights earlier after scraping into the semi-finals as a fast loser. No matter, it was the Olympic silver medallist who took the field through 400m in 1:00.02 tracked my Centrowitz and the order of the first two remained unchanged at 800m which was reached in a relatively modest 2:01.71.
A largely featureless race rumbled into life down the back straight of the penultimate lap when Kiprop burst to the front followed by Ethiopia’s Mekonnen Gebremedhin and then Kiplagat
At the bell - reached in 2:44.24 -it was Kiprop just the thickness of a vest in front of Gebremedhin with Kiplagat lurking in third and Willis on the inside in fourth.
Kiplagat, though, could wait no longer and sprinted to the front around the outside and took the lead entering the beginning of the back straight. Yet Kiprop responded by squeezing past his compatriot on the inside leading into the final 200m.
The Olympic champion rounded the bend a couple of metres clear of Kiplagat but down the home stretch his lead was being whittled away by Kiplagat. Yet the masterful long striding Kiprop kicked on ahead again to win gold from Kiplagat.
Kiplagat, like Kiprop aged just 22, has no shame in taking the silver despite coming into the championships as World leader.
Centrowitz, who doesn’t turn 22 until October, also showed that youth was enjoying its day tonight inside the Daegu Stadium to grab an unexpected bronze. Olmedo also finished with a late dash for the line, but was denied what would have been Spain’s first medal in this event for 12 years.
The Moroccan duo Abdalaati Iguider (3:36.56) and Mohamed Moustaoui (3:36.80) wound up fifth and sixth with the Gebremedhin of Ethiopia prominent at the bell seventh. Willis the early leader faded to 12th in 3:38.69.
Kiprop now joins the legendary middle-distance duo Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco and Algeria’s Noureddine Morceli as the only man on the planet who can say he is both a World and Olympic 1500m champion.
Another interesting statistic; it was the 12th successive time an African-born athlete had landed this title. In fact, Great Britain’s Steve Cram who landed the inaugural 1500m World title in 1983 is the only ever Non-African born athlete to take this crown.
Steve Landells for the IAAF