Olympics-Athletics-Kipketer tips Kaki to win 800 metres

BEIJING Thu Aug 14, 2008 6:23am EDT

BEIJING Aug 14 (Reuters) - Wilson Kipketer, three-times world champion and the 800 metres world record holder, thinks Sudanese teenager Abubaker Kaki will win Olympic gold in the event, the one big medal that eluded the Dane.

"He has won every race he has been in. He has the confidence and the drive to win and he is top on my list if he brings other factors also to bear," Kenya-born Kipketer told Reuters.

Kipketer, who won silver in 2000 Sydney Olympics and bronze in Athens four years ago, also said Russian Olympic champion, Yuriy Borzakovskiy and Kenyan-born Yusuf Saad Kamel of Bahrain have strong chances.

"The Sudanese, Yuriy and Kamel have run 1:42s this season and I think that is pretty good," he said. "The race will be competitive and the winner may be the runner who controls the mind games better.

"The Olympics are tricky. Mental toughness is important. The race is not won by the best time or how strong an athlete is but how relaxed one is, how well one executes his judgment," Kipketer said at the Olympic Village on Thursday.

"You make the right decision at the right time and you win. You make a slight mistake and you are cooked. And mistakes don't win medals," he said.

Kipketer should know. He arrived at the 2000 Games as a triple world champion and world record holder but was caught out in a slow, tactical race while in Athens he was out-kicked by Borzakovskiy."

"I lost the gold in Sydney when I was at my best because of those simple mistakes," he said. "I was confident but my judgment was not right. When an athlete kicks is paramount to his winning the race."

(Writing by Mitch Phillips) (Editing by Ed Osmond) (For more stories visit our multimedia website "2008 Summer Olympics" here; and see our blog at blogs.reuters.com/china)

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