Somewhat surprisingly Kenya has never landed gold in this event at a World Championships but the proud endurance running nation are well positioned to break that famine.
Leading their charge is Commonwealth champion Silas Kiplagat who owns the two fastest times in the world this year. The 22-year-old recorded a world leading 3:30.47 to triumph in Monaco and a 3:31.39 clocking at altitude to win the Kenyan title is, arguably, even more impressive.
Kiplagat was also an impressive winner in Stockholm in his last pre-Daegu appearance when he simply ran the legs off the opposition and on current form he will start favourite.
His compatriot, the Olympic and African champion Asbel Kiprop (3:31.76) should also be there or thereabouts. The tall Kenyan sometimes does not always execute the perfect tactical race, but should he deliver in this area than he has the talent to prosper. He is also clearly in very good form as evinced by a personal best of 1:43.15 for 800m in Monaco.
A strong team is complete by two-time World indoor silver medalist Daniel Kipchirchir Komen (3:32.47) whose season’s best was recorded when finishing third at altitude at the Kenyan Championships.
Olympic silver medalist Nick Willis is in the form of his life setting a New Zealand record of 3:31.79 for fourth in Monaco. The Kiwi is a proven championship performer and is more than capable of getting in among the medals if he can maintain his form and fitness.
Morocco boasts a proud record in this event thanks to the exploits of four-time former champion Hicham El Guerrouj and the North African nation should not be discounted in Daegu.
Leading their three-strong challenge is two-time former 800m World Championship finalist Amine Laalou, who has enjoyed success over the metric mile distance this season. The 29-year-old showed his quality over the long trip with wins in Torino and Paris, recording a swift 3:31.92 at the former meeting.
Laalou will be joined on the Moroccan team by World Indoor silver medalist Abdalaati Iguider (3:33.50) and Mohamed Moustaoui (3:33.59), the sixth place finisher at the 2009 World Championships, and both must be respected.
Two-time World Indoor 1500m champion Deresse Mekonnen (3:32.90) leads the Ethiopian medal quest. The 23-year-old who won a silver medal at the 2009 World Championships has struggled to find his absolute best so far this year but as his record at the major events indicates he should not be discounted.
His teammate Mekonnen Gebremedhin (3:31.90), the African bronze medallist, has consistently finished in the top three on the Diamond League circuit and is also capable of threatening the podium.
Mohammed Shaween of Saudi Arabia made a big improvement to run a personal best of 3:31.82 to win in Hengelo and if he can repeat that form he must also be considered.
Shock US champion Matthew Centrowitz (3:34.46) is also entered as is his countryman Leonel Manzano (3:33.66). The latter athlete was a World Championship finalist in 2009 and could be a dark horse in Daegu, particularly following his victory over one mile in London.
Other possible contenders include the Kenyan-born Turk Ilham Tanui Ozbilen who ran a highly respectable (3:32.94) to win in Barcelona.
Australia’s Jeff Riseley ran 3:33.42 for seventh in Monaco and is another potential finalist. Meanwhile, his countryman Ryan Gregson, 21, a 3:31 man at his best, is also entered, although a 2011 quickest of 3:36.64 suggests he is not on very top form.
The European challenge is headed by Spanish champion Manuel Olmedo (3:34.44), the European Indoor champion, and his countryman Diego Ruiz (3:33.18).
Steve Landells for the IAAF
- Silas Kiplagat after striking Commonwealth 1500m gold (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Nixon Kiplimo Chepseba (r) out-sprints Asbel Kiprop in Shanghai (Errol Anderson) © Copyright