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MOSCOW (AFP) – Odds-on Kenyan favourite Asbel Kiprop retained the men's 1500m crown at the World Athletics Championships on Sunday in a magnificent display of controlled running.
Kiprop clocked 3min 36.28sec, with American Matthew Centrowitz improving on his bronze in the 2011 Daegu worlds by claiming silver in 3:36.78. South African Johan Cronje took a shock bronze (3:36.83).
"I'm really happy to defend my title that I won two years ago," beamed Kiprop. "It was my goal as I was under pressure over these last two years.
"Luckily I managed to survive it and win!"
The 24-year-old Kiprop, who was crowned the 2008 Olympic champion but could only finish 12th in the London Games, was in total control of the race, albeit with help from his Kenyan teammates.
"We worked out a tactical plan and it worked well," he said. "I stayed in the leading group and just sped up in the last 200 metres."
Kiprop went straight to the front of a packed field from the start, with Norway's Henrik Ingebrigsten on his shoulder amid much pushing and shoving.
The first 400m went by in a conservative 59.69sec as Kiprop's teammate Nixon Kiplimo Chepseba then took up the running, building up a 10-metre lead on the pack in an effort to build the pace.
Centrowitz moved up into Kiprop's slipstream as Ethiopian Mekonnen Gebremehdin, silver medallist at the 2009 worlds in Berlin, also made a move.
Chepseba led therough the bell for the final lap, Kiprop looking totally at ease on his shoulder as the pace upped and field split.
Into the back strait he accelerated away effortlessly, Centrowitz holding off the attentions of Chepseba, Kenyan defending silver medallist Silas Kiplagat and world indoor bronze medallist Gebremehdin.
Kiprop's victory exactly followed the formbook, the Kenyan having won all three of his Diamond League outings this year over 1500m, in Doha, Shanghai and Monaco.
The most recent of those victories saw him move to fourth on the world all-time list with his 3:27.72 time for victory, making him more than three seconds quicker this year than any other athlete who was contesting the event in Moscow.
Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria missed the event through illness.