U.S. strikes distance race gold after 108 years

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Matthew Centrowitz wins 1500 metres gold for U.S.
Matthew Centrowitz wins 1500 metres gold for U.S.

(Reuters/NAN) American Matthew Centrowitz pulled of a shock victory in the 1,500m final early this morning to stun pre-race favorite Asbel Kiprop of Kenya to secure his country’s first gold medal in the event since 1908.

In the run-up to the Games, few expected the 26-year-old to challenge for a medal as all the focus was on Kenya’s former Olympic champion Kiprop, who had won the last three world titles.

But after a pedestrian race that was won in a time 24 seconds outside world record pace, Centrowitz held off defending champion Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria to cross the line in 3:50:00.

Centrowitz, who won a world championship bronze in 2011 and silver in 2013, ran the final lap in 50.62 seconds to take gold in a field stacked with African talent.

Makhloufi, who also won silver in the 800m, had to settle for second place once again and Nick Willis of New Zealand snatched the bronze medal.

Kiprop, who has run the fastest time of the year, faded in the final lap to finish sixth.

On the other hand, Briton Mo Farah won the Olympic 5,000 meters gold medal to complete the distance double-double having won the 10,000 earlier in the week after claiming both titles in 2012.

Farah is only the second man to achieve the feat after Finn Lasse Viren in 1972 and 1976.

Paul Chelimo of the United States finished second, while Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet crossed the finish line on third place.

It was an all-African podium reward in the 800 metres, as South Africa’s Caster Semenya, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui won the gold, silver and bronze respectively.

Semenya won her first Olympic gold in a personal-best of 1 minute 55.28 seconds, a national record and one of the top 20 times ever in the two-lap race.

Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba earned silver for a second place finish, while Kenya’s Margaret Wambui took the bronze.


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