Nate Brannen has waited three Olympic Games for tonight’s 1,500m final, his first-ever appearance in the deciding race at the Olympics. The 33-year-old is the only Canadian in the 1,500m and qualified based on his time out of the semifinals on Aug. 18.

When

Men’s 1,500m final – 8 p.m. EDT

The race will be broadcasted live online at CBC Olympics.

Who are the favourites

Asbel Kiprop (Kenya), Matt Centrowitz (United States), Taoufik Makhloufi (Algeria)

How to race will play out

The men’s 1,500m is often very tactical with the first few laps being a rather leisurely pace for most men. That’s because placing is all that matters with time being secondary. Tonight, the men will try to conserve as much energy in the early parts of the race to protect their ability to finish strong.

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The 1,500m is three-and-three-quarter times around the 400m track. Look for the winning time to be between 3:35 to 3:40 depending on the early pace. A final lap surge of 52-53 seconds is normal for the medal contenders.

Watch for Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop (2008 Olympic champion) to make a run for gold and to be challenged by defending Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi. The world indoor champion in the 1,500m, Matt Centrowitz of the United States, has a strong close and could challenge for a medal. The 2012 Olympic silver medallist, Nick Willis, is also in tonight’s field.

Kiprop has been running some scorching times in the 1,500m in recent years, his best being 3:26.69, and appears destined to break the world record. Perhaps not tonight but in the coming months or years. The world record of 3:26.00 has stood since 1998.

The Canadian to watch out for

Brannen, a native of Cambridge, Ont., is one of the most experienced 1,500 runners in the world, with Rio 2016 being his third Olympic Games. Although he may not be the fastest – he has the slowest time in 2016 of the entire field – Brannen is very smart tactically. The goal will be for him to stick to the very inside so he covers as little distance as possible. Expect for him to make a run with 300m to go as will the other runners.

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Occasionally, moves are made as far out as 500m to go as runners reach top speed approaching the final lap, indicated by the ringing of a bell. Brannen has been running competitively for more than 15 years dating back to his time at the University of Michigan. His teammate from Michigan, Nick Willis, will run in the 1,500m final for New Zealand tonight.

Brannen finished second to Charles Philibert-Thiboutot at nationals in July to qualify for the Olympics. Philibert-Thiboutot was eliminated in the semifinals. Brannen, a father of two living in Ohio, reached the final by 0.33 seconds, narrowly defeating Bahrain’s Benson Seurei.

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Brannen was the silver medal winner at the 2015 Pan Am Games. He finished 12th in the 1,500m semifinals at the 2008 Olympics and ninth in the semifinals at the 2012 Olympics in London. His road to make it to tonight’s 1,500m final included qualifying through the heats and the semifinals. The medals will be decided tonight.

Not only will Brannen be motivated by this being his final Olympic Games, his two children and wife will be cheering him on from their home in Ohio. The runners at the high school Brannen coaches at are also rooting for the 33-year-old. He is expected to coach full-time after the Olympics.

Men’s 1,500m final start list

Aug. 20 – 8 p.m. EDT

ORDER / LANE BIB ATHLETE COUNTRY SB 2016 PB
1 2317 Ayanleh SOULEIMAN DJIDJI 3:31.68 3:29.58
2 2744 Abdalaati IGUIDER MARMAR 3:31.54 3:28.79
3 2682 Asbel KIPROP KENKEN 3:29.33 3:26.69
4 3056 Matthew CENTROWITZ USAUSA 3:34.09 3:30.40
5 3022 Ronald MUSAGALA UGAUGA 3:36.23 3:35.02
6 2038 Ryan GREGSON AUSAUS 3:32.13 3:31.06
7 2009 Taoufik MAKHLOUFI ALGALG 3:31.35 3:28.75
8 2458 Charlie GRICE GBRGBR 3:33.60 3:33.60
9 2191 Nathan BRANNEN CANCAN 3:36.84 3:34.22
10 2814 Nicholas WILLIS NZLNZL 3:34.29 3:29.66
11 3051 Ben BLANKENSHIP USAUSA 3:35.02 3:35.02
12 2689 Ronald KWEMOI KENKEN 3:30.49 3:28.81
13 2349 David BUSTOS ESPESP 3:36.14 3:34.77

Also on the track tonight is the women’s 800m and the men’s 5,000m. See here for the women’s 800m preview.

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