MELBOURNE, March 2 (Reuters) - World and Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop plans to work on his speed after placing fifth at the Melbourne Track Classic in his first 1,500 metres of the year on Friday.
The 22-year-old Kenyan led for the middle stretch of the race on a gusty evening at Lakeside stadium, but faded coming into the last lap to post a time of three minutes 42.52 seconds, over four seconds shy of local winner Ryan Gregson.
“I don’t know exactly what happened. It was not my day today. This is sports,” Kiprop, who won the 800 metres in Sydney last week, told reporters.
“I did 10 seconds slower than what I was expecting. It doesn’t disappoint me at all.
“Since November when we started the buildup, we concentrated only on long runs... So I’ll go home now and go to prepare well to do speed work and to train hard,” added Kiprop, who came second to Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi at the 2008 Beijing Olympics but was awarded the gold after the Moroccan-born runner failed a dope test.
The time was also over 12 seconds short of his personal best set at Rieti last year, and marked his third consecutive disappointment in Melbourne over the distance, having lost to Australia’s Jeff Riseley in the previous two meetings.
The night doubled as Olympic trials for local athletes but strong winds put paid to the small crowd’s hopes of impressive times.
World champion and local hero Sally Pearson won the 100 metres in 11.83 seconds, using the race as preparation for her specialty 100 hurdles.
“It’s frustrating when I know I’m in good shape and I can’t show my good shape because of the winds... That’s the way it goes,” said the 25-year-old, who has won 21 of her last 22 races in the hurdles.
“The conditions are supposed to be better tomorrow so we’ll see.”
Australian triple jumper Henry Frayne battled fluky gusts to leap an Olympic qualifying distance of 17.23 metres on his last jump, three centimetres over the benchmark.
His previous jump of 17.34 metres had not counted for qualification because of a tailwind over the legal speed of two metres per second and Frayne found himself rushing into his last chance as the wind picked up.
“It was really gusting some rounds,” the rangy 21-year-old said. “On that last one, it was still and I had to do my routine and it started to pick up a bit and I thought “‘Oh God!’ So I just went.”
Frayne will also compete in the long jump in the second and final day of the meeting on Saturday, as he bids to join Australian world silver medallist Mitchell Watt who has already qualified for London.
(Editing by Alison Wildey)
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