Matthew Centrowitz continued a banner competition for American milers on Saturday at the IAAF World Championships. Colorado native Jenny Simpson won the women’s 1500 meters on Thursday and now Centrowitz, the University of Oregon student-athlete who just completed his redshirt junior season for the Ducks, has claimed a bronze in the men’s 1500 meters.
“[Jenny] winning a couple of days ago was inspiring,” Centrowitz said of his countrywoman’s performance. “It made me think it was possible that I could come close to something like that. She set the tone.”
Like in his semifinal two days ago, Centrowitz ran towards the front of the pack, this time behind New Zealand’s Nick Willis who led the field through 800 meters in a pedestrian 2 minutes, 1.71 seconds.
“I was in a good position,” said Centrowitz of the early pace. “[Willis] was running a very even pace and I felt pretty comfortable.”
Shortly thereafter the Kenyan duo of Asbel Kiprop and Silas Kiplagat injected an surge that strung out the field. At one point with 350 meters remaining Centrowitz had fallen back to eighth but slowly reeled in those who had overexerted themselves early on. The Arnold, Maryland native was in sixth heading down the final straightaway and kicked down the remaining three men to claim the bronze medal in the metric mile.
“They went so hard with 350 to go,” Centrowitz said of the Kenyans’ move. “Even if I wanted to I couldn’t cover it. I told myself, ‘Stay relaxed. Some of them will come back.’ Once 200 hit, each 50 meters was passing one more guy until I found myself in medal position.”
Kiprop, the defending Olympic champion, held on for the win in a time of 3 minutes, 35.70 seconds. Commonwealth Games champion Kiplagat finished second. Kiprop’s gold was the first ever for a Kenyan at the World Championships.
Centrowitz was the NCAA and U.S. 1500 meter champion earlier this summer.
It is interesting to note that he was just fourth at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March over the 3000 meter distance but has now finished third in the world in the 1500 meters.
What’s next for the World bronze medalist? It’ll be back to college life in Eugene where he will proudly wear his medal around his neck.
“Maybe it’ll score me some chicks,” Centrowitz jokingly commented.