Matthew Centrowitz electrified the capacity crowd in the Oregon Convention Center with an impressive finish to become the first US man to win the world indoor 1500m title.
“I was trying to stay comfortable. I knew the crowd would take me there and I just needed to put myself in a good position,” said Centrowitz, who made it to the top of the podium at a global event after a World Championships bronze medal in 2011 and a silver in 2013 outdoors.
Centrowitz overtook New Zealand’s 2008 Olympic silver medalist Nick Willis in the last 20 metres as the sold-out crowd erupted in joy to welcome him home in 3:44.22. Fast-finishing Jakub Holusa (3:44.30) of Czech Republic also overtook Willis in the final strides to take second in 3:44.30 and repeat his 800m silver from Istanbul four years ago.
Willis erased the disappointment from two disqualifications in his previous World Indoor Championships appearances with a 3:44.37 effort for the bronze medal.
Djibouti’s defending champion Ayanleh Souleiman took the pack through the first 800m in a slow 2:07.88, at which point the group started to accelerate and Ethiopia’s Dawit Wolde moved to the front with three laps to go.
Willis upped the pace and took the lead with two laps remaining, taking Centrowitz and the Ethiopian duo Aman Wote – the 2014 silver medallist – and Wolde with him as Souleiman dropped back and eventually finished last.
Willis hit the bell in 3:30.45 and remained in the lead until the final bend, but Centrowitz found an extra gear in the home stretch to claim the most important title of his career.
USA’s Robby Andrews overtook the Ethiopian runners to finish fourth in 3:44.77. It was the first time in 23 years since African runners were left off of the podium.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF