March 4, 2014
Assuming she’s not been injured for the last month, the winner of women’s 1,500 is going to be 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships is going to be – Sweden’s Abeba Aregawi. There is a reason they run the race at all track and field competitions, but if Aregawi doesn’t fall, expect her to win. Aregawi has run over seven seconds faster than anyone else in the field this year.
The drama will be: “Could the world record possibly go down?” or more likely: “How big is the margin of victory?”
Aregawi is incredibly good. With world record holder, Genzebe Dibaba opting for just the 3,000, we don’t see how Aregawi loses. She could even fall in the first 400 and still win this one, as shown by the following list of entrants:
|1,500 Metres W||DOB||PR (o=outdoor)||2014 Best||Comment|
|Abeba AREGAWI||SWE||7/5/1990||3:56.54 o||3:57.91||2013 world champ seems by far the class of the field without reigning indoor champ and recent 3-event WR setter Genzebe Dibaba to contend with.|
|Sifan HASSAN||NED||93||4:03.73 o||4:05.34||Set indoor national record this season when losing by 0.02 to Laura Muir.|
|Elena KOROBKINA||RUS||11/25/1990||4:05.18 o||4:05.78||WChamps finalist last summer. Russian 3,000 champ this season.|
|Luiza GEGA||ALB||11/5/1988||4:05.11 o||4:07.84||WUG bronze last year.|
|Gamze BULUT||TUR||8/3/1992||4:01.18 o||4:07.94||2012 Olympic silver medalist.|
|Gudaf TSEGAY||ETH||1/23/1997||4:07.27 o||4:08.47||Just turned 17 in January. Started international career last summer.|
|Betlhem DESALEGN||UAE||11/13/1991||4:05.13 o||4:08.79||Asian champ at 1,500 and 5,000 last year.|
|Axumawit EMBAYE||ETH||10/18/1994||4:05.16 o||4:08.88||19-year-old’s best result this season is a 4:08.88.|
|Katarzyna BRONIATOWSKA||POL||2/22/1990||4:09.01||4:09.01||Euro Indoors bronze medalist last year just won 5th national title in Feb.|
|Rababe ARAFI||MAR||1/12/1991||4:05.22 o||4:09.15||2012 African champ.|
|Isabel MACÍAS||ESP||8/11/1984||4:04.84 o||4:09.22|
|Margherita MAGNANI||ITA||2/26/1987||4:06.34 o||4:09.27|
|Treniere MOSER||USA||10/27/1981||4:02.85 o||4:09.93||7th at World Indoors back in 2006. 5-time national champ. In great form this season with PRs at 1,000 and 1 mile.|
|Danuta URBANIK||POL||12/24/1989||4:08.32 o||4:10.07|
|Nicole SIFUENTES||CAN||6/30/1986||4:04.65 o||4:10.75|
|Svetlana KARAMASHEVA||RUS||5/24/1988||3:59.61 o||4:11.15||Russian indoor 1,500 champ.|
|Jemma SIMPSON||GBR||2/10/1984||4:06.39 o||4:11.59|
|Mimi BELETE||BRN||6/9/1988||4:00.25 o||4:12.10||WChamps 1,500 finalist in 2011 is also an Asian Games 5,000 champ.|
|Heather KAMPF||USA||1/19/1987||4:08.37 o||4:12.90||2006 NCAA indoor champ and 2012 US road mle champ is going to Poland after Mary Cain’s withdrawal due to injury.|
|Siham HILALI||MAR||5/2/1986||4:01.33 o||4:14.30||Finalist in 3 global championships dating back to 2008, including last summer.|
|Claire TARPLEE||IRL||9/22/1988||4:11.35 o||4:14.61|
|Viola Jelagat KIBIWOT||KEN||12/22/1983||3:59.25 o||3 top-6 finishes in global outdoor championships at 1,500 or 5,000. Hasn’t shown top form yet this season with 2 losses in the 8:40s in 3,000s.|
|Eliane SAHOLINIRINA||MAD||3/20/1982||4:15.64 o|
Dibaba’s set the world record of 3:55.17 earlier this year. Normally we hate even mentioning records. But if you see Aregawi going for broke and wondering why – realize there is a $50,000 world record bonus. Plus, Aregawi’s 3:57.91 time from earlier this indoor season (Feb. 6th) – which was under the old world record of 3:58.28 – was run in her only race of 2014. She’s presumably had a month of good training since then.
Considering Aregawi has run 7.43 seconds faster than anyone else in the field this year, the question really becomes, “Who gets second?”
Nike Oregon Project team member Treniere Moser certainly is a leading candidate for silver. At the 2014 USA Indoor championships, she ran 4:09.93 at altitude – a time that converts to 4:04.49 according to the NCAA calculator, which would make her the # 2 seed here.
After Aregawi, only four women in the field have run faster than 4:08 indoors this year. Looking at those four, Moser’s 4:02.85 last summer was significantly faster than any of them ran in 2013 – Hassan (4:03.73), Gega (4:05.11), Korobkina (4:05.18), Bulut (no time).
The Netherlands’ Hassan, who like Aregawi was born in Ethiopian, certainly is in good form and one to watch but Gamze Bulut of Turkey is the big-time wild card. In case the name doesn’t ring a bell, Bulut is the 2012 Olympic silver medallist at 1500.
Bulut basically came out of nowhere (4:18 in 2011, 4:01 in 2012) to win Olymipc silver in 2012. When her compatriot Aslı Çakır Alptekin - the Olympic champion – was later implicated in a drug scandal, many track and field fans assumed Bulut was dirty as well. The other possibility is Bulut is just a huge Mary Cain type talent. She’s still just 21 after all and was just 19/20 during the summer of 2012.
The fact that Bulut didn’t race hardly at all in 2013 certainly didn’t win over the skeptics (we only see a 15:45 5000 for her). If she has a long and successful career, it will go along way to erasing the doubts about the legitimacy of her 2012 performance.
Bulut is someone we’ll be watching very closely. That being said, we don’t see how under any circumstance she beats a healthy Aregawi. On February 22nd, Bulut lost an 800 at the Balkan championships when Bulut ran only 2:04.26. You don’t lose a 2:04 race and then take down Aregawi. However, she definitely could medal, maybe take silver once again as her 4:07.94 came in a race where second was over 4:20.
Looking at additional women in the field who have a lifetime PR faster than Moser, only two of them ran faster than Moser in 2013. Moroccco’s Siham Hilali ran 4:02.33 last summer at Pre but she’s not a threat to Moser as she was just 9th in Stockholm earlier this year.
Kenya’s lone entrant, Viola Jelagat Kibiwot, is indeed a potential Moser spoiler. She’s run 3:59 in the past and did run faster than Moser last summer as well (4:00.76), but we don’t think Kibiwot is in top shape right now. Her best 3000 on the year is 8:43:42 – not a bad time but that’s basically what she splits when she’s in top shape and running her 14:33 5000 pb.
Quick Thought #1: It’s a real shame that Mary Cain pulled out of this race with an injury. If she was in it, we’d bet the house she’d get the silver medal.
We certainly have no problem with her coach Alberto Salazar being cautious. But if the injury really is as minor as they say it is – Alberto shutting down Cain with a minor injury here at first glance is like the Washington National shutting down Steven Strasburg before the playoffs in 2012 when he wasn’t even injured.
For the 2014 World Indoors are the only global championship of 2014, right? Not so fast, the World Junior Championships are this year and they are in Nike’s back yard of Eugene, Oregon. No doubt that ups the importance of World Juniors to to team Cain. Usually we’d say who cares about World Juniors when you can medal at World Indoors, but we see why their might be some extra importance for the Juniors with them in Eugene.
Having said that, people think that the future will always be brighter and we can certainly hope it is for Cain, but senior medals can be very hard to come by in this sport. If you can get one, go get it in our minds. This is the 15th edition of the World Indoors (16th if you count the 1985 World Indoor Games) and the US has never won a medal at 1500 meters if you ignore drug cheat Regina Jacob‘s three medals (two golds, one bronze).
It also should be pointed out that the woman who has the world junior record by .01 over Mary Cain – Kalkidan Gezahegne – won world junior gold in the 1500 at Worlds in 2010. In 2011, she ran 4:00.97 in May. She’s never run faster than 4:03.38 since.
Quick Thought #2: The 3000/1500 double is quite doable – to be honest we are a little surprised Dibaba didn’t try it. One would have to run two races only on the first day – Friday. The 3000 prelims are at 11:25 in the morning and the 1500 prelims are more than 8 hours later at 7:35 pm. Then you have the 1500 final on Saturday and 3000 final on Sunday.
Quick Thought #3: In case you are wondering. The largest margin of victory in the women’s 1500 in the history of the World Indoor Championships – this is the 15th edition (16th if you count the 1985 World Indoor Games) – took place in 2012 when Genzebe Dibaba won by 2 seconds exactly.
Quick Thought #4: You’ll notice we didn’t talk about the Ethiopian women above. They are very young and very inexperienced. More on them here.
LRC Prediction: Aregawi for the win – no world record. Moser for a medal. The three medals will go to these five people: Aregawi, Moser, Hassan, Bulut, Kibiwot.
When we ranked Moser as the second most likely American to medal, we didn’t realize Bulut was in the field. Now we are getting a little bit of cold feet as to whether she medals or not. She did lose to Cain by 2.85 seconds at USAs.
But if she medals, please give us praise for predicting it – the IAAF preview doesn’t even mention her.