Ki­pla­gat proves he’s a top gun

NT News - - ATHLETICS - GREY MOR­RIS

DAR­WIN got an in-depth look at Kenya’s great depth in mid­dle and long dis­tance run­ning when Si­las Ki­pla­gat won yes­ter­day’s elite men’s race at the Mitchell Mile.

The fifth fastest run­ner in the world over 1500m, Ki­pla­gat stretched his body over an­other 110m in Dar­win’s main street to take home the $15,000 win­ner’s cheque.

His time of 3 min­utes 58 sec­onds was only 15 sec­onds out­side the world record and a $1 mil­lion bonus, proof of the pace of the race de­spite the heat and a blus­tery wind.

“This is my first time in Aus­tralia and I wanted to show th­ese peo­ple that I am one of the best run­ners on the planet and I did it to­day,’’ he told the wait­ing me­dia.

But it was no af­ter­noon stroll for the 2010 Com­mon­wealth Games 1500m cham­pion and win­ner of sev­eral Di­a­mond League races over the same jour­ney.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Jor­dan Gus­man looked poised for back-to-back wins 100m out when he opened a me­tre and half lead on the Kenyan.

But Ki­pla­gat’s late kick got him back on level terms and through the tape half a me­tre ahead of a gal­lant Gus­man.

Asked if he was out of the race with the fin­ish line in sight, Ki­pla­gat said he was still cal­cu­lat­ing his fi­nal sprint when Gus­man made his move.

“The other guys were new to me, so I didn’t know how they were run­ning and I had to get my tim­ing right,’’ he said.

“It was a mat­ter of stay­ing pa­tient, even in the last bit when he (Gus­man) got to the front be­fore I could find my right kick.’’

Ki­pla­gat has sig­nalled his in­ten­tion to re­turn to de­fend his crown af­ter a con­certed ef­fort in longer races at the April 4-15 Com­mon­wealth Games on the Gold Coast.

“The crowd was very sup­port­ive and cheer­ful,’’ he said.

“I want to be back in Aus­tralia for the Com­mon­wealth Games and maybe the 5000 me­tres which I will be­gin to pre­pare for in Mel­bourne.’’

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