Capping a solid inaugural campaign on the international circuit, Kenyan Haron Keitany picked up the biggest victory of his young career with a strong showing in the 1500m in Stuttgart.
In one of the closest finishes of the weekend Keitany, who cruised to the African title in May, outkicked Olympic silver medallist Asbel Kiprop in 3:37.92, winning by a scant 0.01 seconds to collect his biggest payday of the year.
“I knew anything was possible, so I tried to stay in the back of the pack until the last 600 metres so I could be in good position to attack,” said the 24-year-old who outkicked Olympic champion Rashid Ramzi to win in Zurich late last month.
Remarkably, Keitany didn't start running until March of 2005, made the unlikely switch from handball. The career change, he said, is a permanent one.
Kiprop and Yusuf Saad Kamel, who doubled back after his third place showing in the 800m on Saturday, ran near the front throughout the race, which began with a modest 58.08 opening lap, and an even slower second lap which brought the field through 800m in just under sluggish 2:00.39.
The pace picked up slightly over the third lap, but with Moroccan Mohammed Moustaoui reaching 1200m in 2:57.47, the race played right into the hands of the field’s finest kickers.
Abdalatti Iguider of Morocco, the runner-up in Rome and Brussels, took the lead at the bell, with Kamel and Keitany trailing. Keitany made his move to the front for good with about 150m to go.
Kiprop took up the challenge down the homestretch but came up just short. Exactly as he done in the Beijing final and last weekend in Brussels, New Zealand’s Nick Willis moved from fifth to third over the final 50 metres to again take third in 3:38.22.
In a blanket finish, Kenyan Gideon Gathimba was fourth (3:38.35) and Kamel (3:38.50) fifth. 2007 World champion Bernard Lagat, the winner of a tactical 3000 on Saturday, couldn’t mustre a kick today, and finished sixth (3:38.79).
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF