BEIJING: Rashid Ramzi handed Bahrain its first-ever Olympic medal when he won the men’s 1,500 metres gold medal at the Beijing Games on Tuesday.
The 28-year-old Moroccan-born runner won in 3 minutes 32.94 seconds, outsprinting the field for the Gulf country’s first medal in six Olympic Games dating back to Los Angeles in 1984.
Kenya’s Asbel Kipruto Kiprop, who finished fourth in last year’s world championships in Osaka, claimed silver in 3:33.11 with New Zealander Nicholas Willis winning bronze in 3:34.16.
Qatar’s Kenyan-born Belal Mansoor Ali blasted away to the front of the 12-man field from the start of the race around three-and-three-quarter laps of the packed 91,000-capacity National Stadium in sultry conditions.
He was soon joined by Kiprop, who took the pack through the first 400m in 56.48 seconds.
Augustine Choge then moved into the lead and as the bell for the last lap sounded, the Kenyan Commonwealth 5,000m champion opened up his stride in a bid to up the pace.
The field followed suit and with 300 metres to go, Ramzi kicked. For a moment it looked as if he had moved too early as Ali shadowed him around the far bend.
But with teeth clenched, the Moroccan-born runner who moved to Bahrain in 2001 to join the army maintained his startling burst of pace to outsprint the chasing peloton, including an ever-closing 60-metre gasping effort from Kiprop.
His victory made up for his semi-final exit at the Athens Games four years ago and replicated the form that saw become the first athlete since New Zealand’s Peter Snell in the 1964 Olympics to do the 800/1500m double in a global championships when he achieved that in the 2005 world championships. – AFP/de
Channel News Asia