The 13th IAAF World Championships in Daegu begin Aug. 27 and The Korea Times will profile famous as well as domestic track and field athletes before the event kicks off. — ED.
Augustine Kiprono Choge
By Yoon Chul
The United States, Jamaica and a few European countries have shown their prowess in the sprint events. But in the middle- and long-distance events, it’s the African athletes who have dominated.
In the men’s 1,500-meter events, two Kenyan runners, Silas Kiplagat and Augustine Kiprono Choge, are likely to compete for the gold medal.
It will be a compelling race especially if Choge can overwhelm the taller runners, as he had done before. The 1.62-meter Kenyan definitely has a short stride but that has never worked against him.
The 24-year-old first, competed in the 10,000 meters and Choge let the world know of his existence by finishing fourth in that event in the World Junior Championships in Nairobi, Kenya. He clocked in at 29 minutes 6.5 seconds while running at a 1,500-meter altitude.
Choge won in the 800, 1,500 and 3,000 meters in the East African Youth Championships in May 2003.
Three years later, he set a new event record with a time of 12:56.41 in the men’s 5,000 meters at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia in 2006.
He then started focusing on the 1,500, finishing 10th in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. While he set his and the season’s fastest time of 3:29.47 on June 14, 2009 in Berlin, he finished fifth in the IAAF World Championships in the same city later that year.
His first victory in the 1,500 finally came last year. At the 2010 Shanghai Golden Grand Prix, one of the IAAF Diamond League competitions, Choge clocked in at 3:32.20.02 seconds ahead of compatriot Asbel Kiprop.
For this season Choge ran 3:33.38 seconds in Shanghai at the same event in May.
Kiplagat, on the other hand, made a late debut. The runner, who turns 22 on Aug. 20, started training in earnest for competition in 2008 and won the 1,500 at the Commonwealth Games last year.
He also set his and the year’s best time of 3:29.27 seconds on July 22, 2010 at the inaugural Diamond League Meeting in Monaco, the 10th fastest mark ever.
“I want to become a number one and win the 1,500-meter gold medal for Kenya. I am hoping to bring it home and I only target to sail through the semifinals. I only pray to God for good health,” Kiplagat said last week.