2012 Women's Olympic Steeple Preview: Can Anyone Stop Yuliya Zaripova?
August 2, 2012
Editor's note: The women's steeplechase starts on Saturday at 6:35 am ET. The final is at 4:05 pm ET on Monday.
This is only the second time that the women's steeple has been in the Olympics. With Jenny Simpson in the 1,500, the Americans really have no medal shot. As a result, we'll be a brief in our preview.
We believe that the winner is going to be Russia's Yuliya Zaripova. Yes, she only comes in with the fourth fastest time on the year, but that doesn't concern us.
Zaripova rarely races, but when she does, she almost always wins.
Since the start of 2009, Zaripova has finished 13 steeples and she's won 11 of them. Included in that streak was last year's World Championships. Her last loss except came in August of 2010.
Yes, Zaripova did lose once back in 2010 and once in 2009 and both of those women are in the Olympics. But 2009 World Champ Marta Dominguez of Spain is 36 now and hasn't run faster than 9:24 this year and isn't going to win in London. Milcah Chemos, the Kenyan champ who won bronze in 2009 and 2011, is the one who gave Zaripova her last loss in 2010.
If anyone wins besides Zaripova, we imagine it will be Chemos, but we don't see that happening. Chemos is good, as she's a perfect four-for-four on the year and that includes wins in Shanghai, Eugene and Oslo. But last year, she was a perfect six-for-six heading into Worlds and only ended up third, more than 10 seconds behind. That being said, she is better this year than last, as her PR has been lowered from 9:11.71 to 9:07.14.
The silver medallist last year Worlds was Tunisia's Habiba Boudraa. The 28-year-old has only run 9:28 though this year. To be fair, she has only raced once this year and she did win in Paris. Also last year, she had only run 9:20 going into Worlds but ended up second in 9:11.97.
But the reason we love Zaripova is because her winning time was 9:07.03 last year. Yes, she absolutely dominated Worlds by 4.94 seconds. That's ridiculous.
The second best person on the Samsung Diamond League circuit this year has been Ethiopian national record holder Sofia Assefa, who was second to Chemos in Shanghai, Eugene and Olso. The 24-year-old, who was sixth at Worlds, has lowered her PR from 9:15.04 to 9:09.00 this year, but she was beaten by Boudraa in Paris.
LRC Prediction: 1) Zaripova 2) Chemos 3) Bouudraa
Quick Take (QT) #1: An upset here isn't out of the question as the PRs of Chemos (9:07.14) and Assefa (9:09.00) are pretty close to that of Zaripova (9:07.03).
QT #2: At 9:25.28, US champ Emma Coburn (pictured right) has the 11th best time on the year. But a top six or seven showing isn't unreasonable, as the sixth best time on the year is 9:21.54.
QT#3: It's kind of ironic that American record holder Jenny Simpson left the steeple with a PR of 9:12.50 from 2009 because it seemed as if soon lots of people would be well under 9:00. But the times haven't really improved much at all in the steeple - it's the 1,500 where people are running crazy fast. The world record holder in the steeple, 34-year-old Gulnara Galkina, is in the field. She is the only woman ever under 9:00 (8:58.81) but hasn't run faster than 9:24 since 2009.
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