Nairobi, Aug 2 (IANS) The king of 1,500 metres race is undisputed, but there is no limitation on the number of pretenders to the throne eyeing the race title when the Olympic Games start in Rio this weekend.
One such pretender to the throne is world 1,500m silver medallist Elijah Menangoi. The Kenyan was the unlikeliest candidate to push world champion Asbel Kiprop to the final end in Beijing and scrap through with a silver medal to savour, reports Xinhua.
The two are best friends off the track, but will have no love lost during the final, should they make it, as they push to win the gold medal.
But at 23 years, Manangoi is happy with his underdog status he enjoys in the shadows of Kiprop and has promised not to ruffle feathers unless, of course, provoked.
“I have every hope of doing well in Rio. That is why I train so hard. But you must realise that on a good day, to beat Kiprop is a hard task and that may include the Olympics.
“There are other athletes also, who have revenge on their sleeves and they want to get even, especially after Kenya dominated in Beijing. We have all this planned and we will review it race by race,” Manangoi said on Monday from Eldoret.
For Manangoi, the chance to make the Kenya team in the choking 1,500m distance was big enough and he is ready to take on the challenge, though he believes nobody is in the right fitness shape to beat Kiprop at the Olympics.
That can wait because he knows his career is on the rise while Kiprop might be getting over his peak and he is confident of finishing on the podium in the 1500m.
“I am not in a hurry to beat (Kiprop) but it’ s very possible to beat him but let’s wait for the right time to come. I am looking forward for the podium finish in Rio. We are a team and we will stick together and defend the territory,” he said.
Ever since legendary Kipchoge Keino broke on the world stage to win the Olympics gold for Kenya in the 1,500m (1972), the country has continued churning out top names for the same.
But it took a while before Noah Ngeny reclaimed gold in the Olympics for Kenya in 2000 in Sydney then came Kiprop in Beijing (2008), albeit his was shrouded in controversy after Rashid Ramzi (Bahrain) who won, had his doping test return negative result and Kiprop had to be given the gold medal a year later in Nairobi.
He had the chance to correct the anomaly in London in 2012, but injury ruined his plans and he finished last in the finals with Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi claiming gold. Now he has the chance to do that in Rio, but knows the likes of Menangoi will be out to cut his wings.