Kipketer claims title

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The Independent Online
Kenya, which has had the world 800 metres title to itself for the past eight years, relinquished its hold last night - to an ex-Kenyan, writes Mike Rowbottom.

Wilson Kipketer, who was cleared to represent Denmark in May this year having lived there since 1990, took the gold medal, as had been widely predicted, in a time of 1min 45.08sec. The performance, rather than the time, confirmed his status as the man most likely to take the event back towards Sebastian Coe's world record level.

Kipketer won against a field that did not include one Kenyan - a major disappointment to a nation which has won the last three world titles and the last two Olympic gold medals. The Kenyans are even more disappointed about what they see as Kipketer's defection.

Kipketer moved to Copenhagen to take up a sports scholarship, and his preoccupation now is to run in next year's Olympics for Denmark. The IOC requires full citizenship for athletes to compete, something he is still waiting for, having applied three years ago. Applications can take up to seven years.

Having run 1min 42.87sec at Monte Carlo last month, the fifth fastest ever, Kipketer was a clear favourite for the title here. After Nico Motchebon, of Germany, and Vebjorn Rodal, of Norway, had contested the lead around the final bend, Kipketer ran wide to overtake them and finish four metres clear, with Burundi's Arthemon Hatungimana taking the silver.

"After the first 400m they slowed down and I was sure then that I would win the race," Kipketer said. "I won that race for me, my coach and Denmark." His prize of a Mercedes will be used sparingly. "Despite the fact that I won a car today and that I have none at home, I will still cycle to training," he said.