Kiplagat proves he’s a top gun
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.’’