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Kenya Asbel Kiprop seeks fourth conse-
cutive defence of world title in London

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- It is not every day that one manages to get lucky four times, but that will be the motive for World Champion Asbel Kiprop when he lines up in defence of his title at the London World Athletics Championships from Aug 4-13.

Kiprop has won four major titles in 1500m, but his victory in Beijing two years ago was arguably the most impressive of the lot as he had to extricate himself from a seemingly impossible position on the last lap and overtake nine runners in the last 300 metres to ensure his third world title.

A fourth world title in London would match the haul achieved by world record-holder Hicham El Guerrouj from Morocco between 1997 and 2003.

But while El Guerrouj could often rely on a teammate to ensure a fast pace to his liking, Kiprop has three younger teammates - not to mention some very capable challengers from the rest of the world - all looking to knock the reigning champion off his pedestal.

“It is down to strategy. Competition in this race is so stiff that you have to be on your game to be able to beat the opposition. I have no doubt about my ability, and rule me out at your own peril,” said Kiprop in a telephone call from his training camp.

Kiprop has been in indifferent form in the lead-up to the championships. Most recently, he was a well-defeated 11th at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco in 3:34.91, but experience and a cool head - which Kiprop demonstrated after getting boxed on the last lap in Beijing - are what is important in a championship setting.

A month ago, Ronald Kwemoi would have probably been the consensus pick to claim this title. He won the 1500m at the Kenyan Trials at altitude in 3:30.89 but this was followed by a defeat over 3000m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris before finishing third in Monaco, where he appeared to limp away from the track.

Elijah Manangoi and Timothy Cheruiyot finished first and second respectively in that race in the two fastest times of the year.

They were also second and seventh respectively in Beijing and are both expected to feature in the race for the medals again.

Manangoi was one of the favorites for the Olympic title last year, but a calf injury forced him to withdraw from the semifinal while Cheruiyot has improved substantially since making the final two years ago when he was still a teenager.

The likes of Bahrain’s Sadik Mikhou (3:31.34) and Ethiopia’s Aman Wote (3:31.63) both feature prominently on the world list, but neither of them has much in the way of championship form.

There will also be Nick Willis from New Zealand, Abdalaati Iguider from Morocco and Matthew Centrowitz from the United States.


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