Two years on from his triumph at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, Asbel Kiprop is running faster than ever.
The Kenyan has won all three of his IAAF Diamond League outings this year over 1500m, winning in Doha, Shanghai and Monaco. The most recent of those victories saw him move to fourth on the world all-time list with his 3:27.72 clocking, making him more than three seconds quicker this year than any other athlete who will be contesting the event in Moscow.
However, the 24-year-old is not unbeatable. Silas Kiplagat, who took the silver medal behind Kiprop in Daegu two years ago, beat him at the Kenyan trials.
Kiprop’s wildcard means there will be four Kenyans in the 1500m at the World Championships. Joining the defending gold and silver medallists will be Olympic finalist Nixon Chepseba and Bethwell Birgen, the only member of the team whose best is outside 3:30.
Despite their incredible depth, Kenya has only won one gold medal in this event in the history of the World Championships.
One man looking to ensure the East African nation doesn’t add to their gold medal tally is Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman. The 20-year-old made a big breakthrough last year but was forced to miss the Olympics through injury.
Having watched his Algerian training partner Taoufik Makhloufi – who will miss this year’s World Championships through illness – take gold in London, Souleiman has been in great form this season. He won the Mile at the Oslo Diamond League, then won the 1500m in Paris.
However, there is also the possibility that he will have three rounds of the 800m in his legs, unlike the three Kenyans and the other mian contenders at this event.
World indoor bronze medallist Mekonnen Gebremedhin leads the Ethiopian challenge alongside Aman Wote, winner of the 1500m at the Diamond League meeting in Birmingham in June.
The dark horse could be Morocco’s Zakaria Mazouzi, who obliterated his personal best earlier this year with a 3:31.94 run. His following race was considerably slower, but he returned to form in the Belgian town of Oordegem where he came within one second of his best, winning in 3:32.89.
He will be joined in Moscow by team-mates Mohamed Moustaoui and 2012 World indoor champion Abdalaati Iguider, who both finished in the top six at the last World Championships in Daegu.
Turkey’s Ilham Tanui Ozbilen is the fastest European entrant. He improved his own national record in Monaco with 3:31.30 and has this year won at the the Mediterranean Games and the European Team Championships.
Steeplechase specialist Bouabdellah Tahri is another strong European. The 34-year-old Frenchman has this year improved his best by almost two seconds and is vastly experienced, having made his first World Championships appearance in 1999.
US athletes have won made it on to the 1500m podium at the past two global championships and both of those medallists – Leo Manzano and Matt Centrowitz – are expected to once again be in the mix in Moscow.
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Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF