GRASPING the souvenir of his greatest hour, Asbel Kiprop can only have closed his eyes and imagined how different this moment might have been.

He stood on the podium within Beijing's Birds Nest stadium, the trinket from his 1500 metres performance dangling and shimmering around his neck. Few know what it is like to feel the acclaim of the world as they rejoice in Olympic victory. The Kenyan, harshly, is not among that elusive club. Beaten initially into second by Rashid Ramzi, the Bahrainian's subsequent doping violations saw his rival promoted but denied the just reward of savouring the plunder of gold.

"I received my medal in Nairobi, one year before the London Games," the 25-year-old, racing in today's Morrison's Great Edinburgh Cross Country, reflects. "It wasn't as nice as winning on the track. The ceremony was done by the national Olympic committee in a hotel, something which has never happened."

It rankles still. It spurs daily. To fight for the right to claim an indisputable victory at Rio 2016. And to take the opportunity to cement his place among the greats of middle-distance running at this summer's world championships, fittingly back in the Chinese capital, where he can join the exclusive sect of those who have claimed a trio of successive titles. That, he says, would press his claims to trail only Hicham El Guerrouj and Noureddine Mourceli, the past masters from the northern tip of Africa.

Yet in recent days, another Olympic pursuit has been floated, the concept that cross-country should be added to the Winter Games advanced by the likely next-president of the IAAF, Lord Coe. "A good idea," Kiprop nods. "It would bring also motivation to athletes, especially those from 5000 and 10000 metres, to take part. If an athlete wins gold at a summer Games, and then to win a medal at the winter one, it would be quite an achievement."

For now, he must make do with a televised trial this afternoon in Holyrood Park over four kilometres against a world-class field that includes locally-born Chris O'Hare, a European bronze medallist last year and potentially one of those who might thwart Kiprop's Beijing bid.

"Honestly, he is a high-class athlete and I think he has a bright future in track and field," the maestro declares. "He has come from way back and this will help to measure the level which he is at."

Adjoining the elite invitational in Edinburgh is a three-team international between the USA, Team Europe and a Great Britain & Northern Ireland squad which includes five Scots at senior and junior levels, including the in-form pairing of Callum Hawkins and Andy Butchart.

"I definitely feel it's time to take another step," Hawkins, the victor in the European trials, declares. "I've done a lot of cross this year but that's not the main focus. There's the world championships but that might be slightly out of my reach. I just want to improve. I'm treating this as a development year, to get faster over the 5000 and the 10000 metres."