Centrowitz surprises with 1,500m gold
Matthew Centrowitz pulled off a shock victory in the men's 1,500m final, stunning favourite Asbel Kiprop of Kenya. His gold was the first in the event for an American athlete since 1908.
In the run-up to the Games few expected the 26-year-old to challenge for a medal as focus was on Kenya's 2008 Olympic champion Kiprop, who had won the last three world titles. But in a race that was won in a time 24 seconds outside world record pace, Centrowitz held off defending Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria to cross the line in 3:50:00.
“It’s been a dream come true,” an emotional Centrowitz said. “It doesn’t compare to anything else I’ve won in my life. Doing my victory lap, I literally kept screaming to everyone I know: ‘Are you kidding me?’ Seb Coe came up to me and said ‘Welcome to the club’, which I thought was very cool.” Great Britain's double 1,500m Olympic champion Coe presented him with the gold medal.
Centrowitz, who won a world championship bronze in 2011 and silver in 2013, ran the final lap in 50.62 seconds to take gold in a field stacked with talent. He described the unfolding of the race: “After the first 800 when nobody went around me, now we were in the later part of the race and I thought now I can’t let anyone around me. Ayanleh Souleiman kind of pulled up and went around me but left the inside. I have made that manoeuvre before at previous world championships. I saw that he left it open and thought ‘hey it’s now or never’. I took my opening and went from there.”
Kiprop, who had run the fastest time of the year, faded in the final lap to finish sixth. 33-year-old New Zealander Nick Willis, who took silver at Beijing 2008, overcame several injury-plagued seasons to snatch a bronze medal in his fourth Olympic games.