Kiprop: under pressure to deliver gold for Kenya in Beijing

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Tactics will be crucial for World 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop of Kenya as he defends his title at the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing on Sunday.

Kiprop, who, together with former world silver medalist Silas Kiplagat and Elijah Manangoi, will be raising Kenyan flag in the finals, but he is alive to the fact that his rivals will not let go the title without a bruising battle.

"Being a defending champion in an event where 12 world's finest athletes are in the finals needs you to be strong and defensive," said Kiprop by telephone from Beijing on Friday. "But it is a great progress from Team Kenya in Beijing. But you can imagine the amount of pressure when fans bank on you."

Kiprop is under pressure to deliver the gold, especially having headed to Beijing as the fastest man.

He missed the world record by one hundredth of a second when he won the Monaco Diamond League in 3:26.69. Only two other athletes Benard Lagat (U.S.) and Hicham El Goureej (Morocco) have run faster.

"The pressure is enormous and I will do everything to win. So far the team has done well and I want to be part of the medalists when we make history to top the medal table," he said.

The only big name that will be missing in the finals will be World indoor 1,500m champion Ayanleh Souleiman, who failed on the wayside in the semis.

While Souleiman was left devastated by his non-qualification from heat two, there were no such problems for pre-event favourite Kiprop, as the stick-thin Kenyan nonchalantly claimed an easy heat two win in 3:38.97.

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