Producing the first major upset of the championships, Ivan Heshko defeated heavily favoured Daniel Kipchirchir Komen to become the first Ukrainian to win the men’s 1500 metres.
Runner-up in 2004, Heshko bounced back from early season foot injury to win in 3:42.08, well ahead of Komen’s 3:42.55.
The young Kenyan, this year’s World leader, took control of the race at the outset, with compatriot Elkanah Angwenyi at his side. After a sluggish 2:06.69 at 800 metres, the Kenyans picked up the pace, with Heshko remaining in striking distance. He moved up to second at the bell before bursting to the lead with 100 metres to go to cross the line unchallenged.
“I saw on the last lap that he was fading,” said Heshko, the reigning European Indoor champion, through a translator. “My preparation was slowed by injury this year. So without total preparation, I was able to win, which is a great sign before the summer.”
“I was expecting the gold, but it’s still better than my failure at the World Championships in Helsinki last year,” Kipchirchir Komen said, adding that a leg injury slowed his training over the past month.
Angwenyi, who was third in 3:42.98, said that despite of appearances, the Kenyan duo hadn’t planned any tactics.
Akkas Halil of Turkey was fourth in 3:43.61, just ahead of Spaniard Sergio Gallardo (3:43.77). James Nolan of Ireland was next in 3:43.98.