20th August 2016 – Matthew is the Olympic 1500m Champion. It has been 108 years since an American won the Olympic Games 1500m. Leading for gun to tape in a very tactical race Matthew used his superior racing brain to hold off all attacks and cross the line first. Race report from www.iaaf.org –
REPORT: MEN’S 1500M FINAL – RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES
The men’s 1500m final was one for the ages, although not in the way you might expect.
The gold medal was won in a time of 3:50.00, the slowest time since 1932, and the last time there was a US winner at this distance in the Olympics was back in 1908.
However, that will all be irrelevant, and rightly so, to Matt Centrowicz.
The two-time world championships medallist, with a bronze in 2011 and silver in 2013 as well as the 2016 world indoor title, completed his collection of medals from outdoor global championships after controlling the race almost from the gun and repelling all the attacks from his rivals, especially over the final 250 metres.
“There’s nothing like it. It doesn’t compare to anything else I’ve won in my life. Doing my victory lap, I literally kept screaming to everyone I know ‘Are you kidding me?'” said a grinning Centrowitz.
Centrowitz, surprisingly to many still only 26, towed the field through the first 400m in a very sedentary 66.83 and then an even slower second lap of 69.76.
The entire field was still tightly bunched together at this point and there was no surprise that, with all the contact and jockeying for position, there was a faller and the unfortunate runner to take a tumble was the highly-rated Kenyan Ronald Kwemoi, who tripped and fell just before the runners passed the two laps to go infield display.
Kwemoi, the world junior record holder and still only 20, picked himself up quickly and tagged himself onto the back of the pack within a space of 40 metres – evidence of how slow they were going – but he eventually trudged in 12th and last.
After a brief stint in the lead by Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman, Centrowitz got back in front again with little more than 300 metres remaining.
Behind him, the three-time world champion and 2016 world leader Asbel Kiprop was starting to move up quickly down the back straight, having hung at the back of the pack and staying out of danger for nearly the whole race.
Also hovering around at the front was the defending champion from London four years ago, Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi, but Centrowitz could not be budged from pole position.
Centrowitz went through several gears around the final bend and down the home straight, and not even noted fast finishers such as Kiprop and Makhloufi could get on his shoulder as the US runner cranked up the pace.
He uncorked a 50.62 last lap to take the gold medal as Makloufi finished fast to take the silver just 0.11 behind, and New Zealand’s 2008 Olympic silver medallist Nick Willis surprised many by kicking hard to take the bronze in 3:50.24 and edge out Souleiman, as Kiprop inexplicably faded over the fianl 80 metres and finished sixth.
20th March 2016 – Matthew today claimed his first global title in a brilliant 1500m final at the World Indoor Championships.
A slow early pace saw the field closely bunched behind defending champion Ayanlew Souleiman (DJI) who appeared to be trying to employ the same tactics of front running he used to win the title last time. However, after managing to repel several attacks he could do nothing as first Dawit Wolde (ETH) and then Nick Willis (NZL) burst into the lead with 400m remaining.
Heading into this race Matthew was unbeaten in 2016 but with 200m to run and still in third he was going to have to show speed and strength over the last lap to maintain this record. However, he displayed both in abundance and as he drew level with Wills with 40m left he drew on the energy being generated by the partisan home crowd and also the many family and friends he had in attendance to find that one final push to take him clear. He timed his run to perfection and crossed the line in 3:44.22 with a final 400m of close to 52 seconds.
This victory gives Matthew the complete set of World medals after he won silver at the outdoor championships in Moscow (2013) and bronze in Daegu (2011).
It also gave him the perfect record for the 2016 indoor season with 7 victories from 7 races (including his heat at the World Indoor Championships). His indoor season stacked up as follows:
Tracktown High Performance Meet 1, Portland, 3000m, 1st, 7:55.25
Camel City Invite, North Carolina, 1 mile, 1st, 3:54.02
Tracktown High Performance Meet 4, Portland, 3000m, 1st, 7:40.74
Millrose Games, New York, 1 mile, 1st, 3:50.63
USATF Indoor Championships, Portland, 1500m, 1st, 3:44.33
IAAF World Indoor Championships, Portland, 1500m Heat 1, 1st, 3:47.15
IAAF World Indoor Championships, Portland, 1500m Final, 1st, 3:44.22
2015 was a season of highs and lows. After dominating the USATF Championships with a 52.03 last lap, then running a PR of 3:30.40 in Monaco Matthew went to Beijing with high hopes of improving or at least equalling his medal winning runs of 2011 and 2013. It was not to be as despite putting himself in a good position at the bell he was unable to kick with the leaders on the last lap eventually finishing 8th. Earlier in the season Matthew placed 2nd in the Prefontaine Classic and Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games miles recording best time of 3:51.20 in Eugene. He also improved his 800m PR to 1:44.62 in the New York Diamond League.
- USATF 1500m Champion
- USATF Indoor mile Champion
- 1500m PR of 3:30.40 in Monaco – fastest ever by a American born athlete and 3rd fastest all-time
- 800m PR of 1:44.62 in New York
- 1000m indoor PR of 2:17.00 in Boston
- Fastest in the world indoors in the 1000m and Mile and 2nd fastest in the mile outdoors
- IAAF World T&F Championships 8th