Rashid Ramzi won the Beijing Olympic men's 1500 meters title on Tuesday to give Bahrain its first-ever Olympic track and field gold medal. [Xinhua]
Rashid Ramzi won the Beijing Olympic men's 1500 meters title on Tuesday to give Bahrain its first-ever Olympic track and field gold medal.
"The gold medal is a great honour to Bahrain and the Arabic world. It is not easy for an Arab to win a Gold medal, it is hard to come by," said Ramzi.
The 28-year-old timed three minutes 32.94 seconds to add the gold to his 2005 world champions. Asbel Kipruto Kiprop of Kenya took silver in 3:33.11 while Nicholas Willis of New Zealand took bronze in a time of 3:34.16.
Kiprop took the bell in the lead but Ramzi passed him down the back stretch and led into the final straight with Kiprop on his shoulder while Willis was toiling in third.
Down the straight Ramzi eased past Kiprop and crossed the line less than one meter to the good of Kenyan, who like his three compatriots in the women's 800m, marathon and 3000m steeplechase had to settle for a minor medal.
"I saw him coming in front of me and I had a plan of maybe kicking him in the last 200. But I couldn't," said Kiprop. "He's a great man. Losing to he is not a big deal."
Another Kenyan Asbel Kipruto Kiprop took up the early pace and went through the 800m point in 1:56.06 and 1200m in 2:52.67 until Kiprop went to the front. With few laps to go, the leading group was still up to five runners but while the Ramzi was to be fended off there was no stopping him who cantered home.
Moroccan-born Ramzi who moved to Bahrain in 2001 broke the Hicham El Gerrouj's 29-race winning streak in the 1500m six weeks before the 2004 Athens Olympics and was seen as one of the medal favorites, but he failed to qualify for the final after finishing 11th out of 12 finishers in the semifinals.
However, Ramzi came back strong in 2005 and became the first athlete in history to win both the 800m and 1500m races at a single World Championships.
(Xinhua News Agency August 20, 2008)