by Dennis Young
August 15, 2013
Moscow, Russia – Editor’s note: After the 2013 IAAF women’s 1500 final, LetsRun.com was part of two interviews with each with Americans Jenny Simpson and Mary Cain (Simpson #1, Simpson #2, Cain #1, Cain #2). To save you time as reading is way faster than watching, we had website visitor Dennis Young transcribe three of the four interviews for us. They appear below.
Jenny Simpson’s Post-Race Comments
Reporter: How does it feel to be back, in a major championship, in the medals?
JB: Yeah, it’s not so much like anything happened to me, it’s more the way that I prepared. I think that if I want to be good, and I want to stay in this sport– which are things that I really, really want, you have to be objective. And you have to be, not hard on yourself, but you have to be honest with yourself. And I think that was a lot of my November and December, learning to be honest and take stock of my situation and say, “What’s gonna make me prepared to mount that podium again, like in 2011?” And I think that I proved tonight that I made those right decisions.
Reporter: What did you say to Mary Cain after the race?
I went up to her and I asked her how it went, and she spoke to me for a couple of seconds, and I told her to find me afterwards. You know, everyone keeps asking me about her– of course, of course. But I really don’t know her at all. And I have been told on occasion that I can be intimidating, which I don’t think is true at all. I hope that I’m an approachable person. But I haven’t really seen her much or gotten a chance to speak positively into her life.
This championship was about me being prepared, and I was focused on me. But now that it’s over, I really would like to see her and just, you know, make myself available to her as a teammate.
Letsrun.com: Were you happy with gold or silver?
That honestly was the hardest I’ve ever pushed myself in the last hundred meters, or last 150 or whatever. Two years ago, I was like, in shock, and this year, I was just trying to compose myself. I was really, really tired at the end.
Yeah, my whole mantra going through, once I realized I was in the lead and no one was going to take it early in the race– wasn’t my exact plan going into the race– but I just kept saying to myself “Be hard to beat, be hard to beat. You’re gonna be in the lead and then just make them beat you. Don’t wait for anything.”
And so, the last 300 meters I just kept training myself “Don’t wait, don’t wait, don’t wait! Just go, run hard now– there’s nothing to wait for.”
LR: The last fifty meters, did you think you might–
Yes! I thought I might get her. I thought if she hesitates even a little bit or if she leans up…
You know, I watched the women’s 400 meter final, and I was inspired by that. If it comes down to the line, who cares? If your chest makes it across the line first, that’s all that matters. And so I kept saying “Don’t be second until you’re actually second.” And I kept saying “You’re gonna get her, you’re gonna get her.”
LR: You said this wasn’t quite your strategy. What was your real strategy beforehand?
Coming into this, I just said “Before the kicking begins- before the windup begins, whenever that is. If it’s 300 to go, 400 to go, 600 to go, be in the outside lane with plenty of room to move. Be ready to go to the front.”
I did not think I would beat Aregawi if I was two seconds back. I couldn’t spot her any distance. So, when you go in with someone who is that hard to beat, I thought “I need to put myself in a position for her to have to beat me instead.” So, I didn’t think that I would be putting myself in that position with 1500 meters to go, but once I was up there I just said “Take control, take ownership of the race” and just ran that same strategy, just from a little further out.
LR: I know you won two years ago, but it’s sort of hard to believe you’re better than you were then. Do you think that Jenny Simpson of 2011 beats the Jenny Simpson of 2013, or do you think the JS of 2013 beats the JS of 2011?
Oh, nine races out of ten, yes! Because one race out of ten, maybe I won’t be 100% on my game and the young, two-years-younger Jenny will come with all of her enthusiasm down the stretch not knowing how great she’s doing until it’s over.
It’s totally different for so many reasons, but I’ll sum it up. There’s nothing like coming into a championships and knowing that you’re a medal threat. It’s a different kind of pressure, it’s a different kind of expectation, but I was certainly prepared for it, and had a lot of ownership this year, unlike 2011.
LR: Your last lap was 58 high.
Yeah, I kept telling myself, I ran 62 in Rome and Aregawi beat me there. I kept saying, I gotta close that gap, I gotta close that gap, you gotta be ready to run a lot faster if you’re going to beat someone like Aregawi. And you know what? I’m still trying to beat her. Tomorrow, I’ll be out on a shakeout, we’ve got more racing to do, and I’ll be back hopefully next year.
LR: On the victory lap, you kind of hugged her, what’d you say to her?
I looked up to her and I said “You ran so great!” It’s not only like, she’s really great, but I admire her, because I want to be able to close like she does… I don’t know, I think I have a special respect for people like her because I ran against Sally [Kipyego] for so many years in college. And I don’t look at her and say “Ugh! I should’ve got her, I should’ve got her!” I’m gonna work. I’m gonna work really hard and make this happen. Sally Kipyego in college really gave me that gift of understanding that those people [that beat you] can make you better. And so I think that Aregawi closing in 57, or 58, and being able to run 3:56… Knowing that she’s out there makes me train harder every day.
Reporter: How do you feel? People didn’t believe in you…
Yeah, I feel really good because, yeah, I showed this year that it wasn’t a mistake. It wasn’t a mistake, I definitely am a world class athlete and a podium athlete and a medal threat. And 2011 was such a gift and this year was, as the Brits told me at the end, “taking it by the scruff of the neck.” So, I really tried to just get out there and show people what I’m made of.
Thank you, guys.
Want more? Here is the un-transcribbed video interview with Simpson.
Mary Cain’s Post-Race Comments (Interview #1)
Cain statement: Aw, jeez. I’m not even, like sad, I’m just angry. And I think that’s a good thing. It was all a learning experience, this whole meet, and I think this is going to make me super pissed for Beijing [site of the 2015 WCs]. I’m going to go in there and try to kill as many people as possible. I mean, I know that I have to put things in perspective. When I was on the line, I was like “So many kids my age would just die to do this.” But I’m a tough person, I expect a lot from myself. I think it’s going to be good later tonight to refocus. I don’t know what happened, I really don’t. I was in there, and I was running to win. And that’s crazy; I know. I think a lot of people didn’t even think I could get out of the heats…Then by the semis, they’re like “Did you see her race?!” And they were just like “No way!” Then I did that. And you know, I think a lot of people would have just been like, “Hell, I’m cruising it in, I’m gonna be smiling, just waving that last lap.” And I was like, “I know I still have to run faster”. And I just really kicked it in.
I feel so good, I really don’t know what happened. I think later tonight I’m going to be really, really angry in a good way. And I think it’s going to make me really motivated. I think you guys are probably a little scared, you normally see me like “Oh! Ducks! Puddles!”
I’m going to go home and I’m going to get into this. This is my last race of the season and I think this is going to motivate me so much for next year. Next year, there’s no Worlds, it’s just me and learning how to race. We’ve already been talking about how excited we are for all the form work we’re going to be doing. Alberto said to me going in to this, “Mary, you could win, you could come in twelfth.” I came in tenth, that’s not really halfway, but almost, I guess, kinda.
Did you lose focus at all during the race?
I felt I was totally engaged! That’s why I don’t know what happened. I think there was a momentary “Crap!” moment 800 to go where I was like “Ugh!”
But I felt so engaged and I felt like that gap happened. My whole thing this year has been no gaps, because that’s what I do. You guys saw me in those heats, I didn’t realize I was so far back! I got this! Then afterwards, Alberto’s like “You almost gave me a heart attack.” But I guess I gotta refocus, just try to enjoy the rest of the trip. Jeez though! I don’t know what happened.
But you know what? Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe it’s so that when I go to Beijing, I’m not the terrified nineteen-year-old, like “Oh God, all these expectations!” It’s like “Ok, let’s do better than tenth.”
Can you take anything away from Jenny, from her performance here and also in Daegu?
Definitely. She’s been awesome. After the race she came over and said “How’d it go?” And I was like “Tenth.” She said “Come find me after the race, I’m there for you.”
By that time I was near tears. [I was thinking] “You’re a silver medalist, a gold medalist, just the best.” I’m just so happy for her. In the heats, we watched her race, other heats. We sat down today and watched the guys’ heats. I’m a student here, I’m like learning from this.
Everybody’s going to be really good when I come through, but I’m definitely going to be disappointed. I know my mom’s probably sitting at home, going “You psycho! You made the final!” You know, I’m kind of hard on myself. I think I’m going to put this energy in a good way. I think I’m going to direct it, going to attack it, and I’m ready to go. I’m on the line and I just told myself “All these kids are sixteen, and there’s no way I’m letting sixteen year olds beat me.” [reporters laugh] Of course, most of them are twenty-something. I think this was a good experience. I mean, obviously I’m not complaining. I got a uniform out of this. Guys, I’m happy. But darn it, I wanted podium so I could get a toy mascot. I think you can buy it anyway. But, I was watching Dibaba get hers after the 10k, and I was like “Jordan [Hasay], get ready. I’m going for that mascot!”
Talk a little bit about what comes up next.
We decided that it probably makes the most sense to stop here. I think, continuing, who knows, maybe I could go next week and kill the field. I’m think I’m capable to be up there. But, it wasn’t my day today, we decided it’s been a long season. You know, I’m still young, but there’s only so long for you to really fix that arm swing, and we’re going hard with it this fall.
Next spring, what do you start with?
I don’t know! I actually don’t. It’ll probably be a much different season, it’ll be more about me learning in Europe, stuff like that and exploring the circuit. Hopefully, just learning how to race, getting more mature in that.
Ok, thank you.
Mary Cain’s Post-Race Comments (Interview #2)
I’m ok. I gave myself a little rant in the last interview. Uh, I’m definitely really disappointed. I’m the type of person who, I don’t care that I’m seventeen, I’m in it to win it, every race I go in. I think that I could have, that was what, 4:03? I think I’m definitely capable. I’m not even that tired, honestly. I don’t know… I really don’t know what happened. I think, I guess I got scared that last 800. but, I gotta take a deep breath. I gotta regroup. I know I can do so much better. I think I can break 4:00. I’m crazy, I’m psycho, I know. My mom, I already told the last group, she’s probably watching me right now, like, “YOU MADE THE FINAL! We didn’t think you could get out of the heats!” You saw my first race; I think I’ve matured over the course of the week. I’m just, you know, happy to be here, happy to learn. I know everyone’s going to be really good afterwards. I’m going to be kicking myself a little bit.
I still have Puddles (Cain’s stuffed animal) to look forward to seeing. I can always buy a toy mascot rather than win one.
What was the strategy going into the race? What did Alberto tell you to do?
Go out hard, be on the rrail, always be in a position for success, never get gapped, never lose my space. Obviously I did that well for two laps. Probably by about 700 to go, I was just suddenly out of it. I don’t know, I’m proud of myself that I didn’t lose. I think that would have been very easy to do. I still fought, but, maybe had I started kicking harder at 300 maybe I could have [passed] a few more people. I’m very confident in my speed.
What do you say about the winner, Aregawi?
Oh, she’s awesome! I’m so happy for Jenny… I’ve been using her as an example all week. I’ve been doing a lot of research, I’ve been a student of the sport. It’s been a lot of fun really getting to learn from all the other athletes. I mean, Team USA has been so amazing. You got the decathletes, the shot putters the high jumpers, you got your fellow runners. You got the racewalkers, and they’re all behind each other. When I was leaving, everyone was wishing me good luck, giving me high fives. I mean, these people are Olympians! These are people I look up to as role models. It was nice talking to you guys, but I should probably head out.