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Men's 1,500 Semis: Lagat/Ramzi Impress - Webb Doesn't
by: LetsRun.com
August 27, 2007
*Full Results

Final 9:05 am Easter on  Wednesday
The only way to watch the meet live in the US is on WCSN on the internet $4.95 for a 30 day membership

(Voting was before
Round 1 of the 1500m)

Who will win the
Men's 1500?
Timothy Cheruiyot KEN90.1%
Jakob Ingebrigtsen NOR4.8%
Matthew Centrowitz USA1.8%
Ronald Musagala UGA0.8%
Marcin Lewandowski POL0.6%
Taoufik Makhloufi ALG0.5%
Samuel Tefera ETH0.4%
Craig Engels USA0.4%
Ayanleh Souleiman DJI0.3%
Filip Ingebrigtsen NOR0.2%
Abdelaati Iguider MAR0.1%

*To read our pre-race coverage of the men's 1,500, where we broke down the top contenders please click here.
*To read our coverage from the first round, please click here.

The American distance running aficionados who got up early to watch 2007 world leader Alan Webb's quest for America's first gold in the 1,500 since 1908 likely are re-examining their holdings in Alan Webb's stock and perhaps switching wholeheartedly to compatriot Bernard Lagat after the two semifinals today. With 300 meters to go in both semis, both Lagat and Webb found themselves in the same situation - in the back.  And while both Americans ended up moving up in the final 300 of each heat to advance automatically to the final, they did so in totally contrasting styles.

Lagat did so very impressively. Looking completely calm and running confident throught, he blew away his heat and emphatically showed he's definitely a gold medal contender while Webb struggled to grab the final auto spot, looking more like an American lucky to make the final rather than the world leader. After the semis, some Webb fans are trying to reassure themselves that Webb was under control, but the plan was definitely not to make the final by only .09.

From a confidence standpoint, today's heats certainly couldn't have helped Webb who many have thought was a bit too nervous in year's past. Perhaps he is still feeling the effects of a cold he had last week.

Heat 1 - Lagat Impresses
Watching a truly tactical 1,500 with the world's best is unusual and exciting as one rarely sees tactical races given the overabundance of rabbited races week after week in Europe. Heat 1 was certainly a tactical affair as the opening splits were 62.94 and 2:07.87 as Kenyan teenage sensation Asbel Kiprop did the leading (in the lead at 400, right on it at 800). After 800, the pace started to pick up a bit as the bell was reached in 2:50.50. A ridiculous last 400 would ensue and when it was done, anyone who watched the race was praising the savvy veteran Bernard Lagat.

With 300 to go (3:03.74), Lagat was in the back third to last and we're sure many were perhaps thinking that father time was catching up with the 32- year old. Boy were they wrong. Often in tactical 1500s, people start their kicks too early. The veteran Lagat certainly didn't make that mistake. He weaved up on the inside and then moved outside as the entered the last 200.  Entering the last 100, Lagat was on the outside in approximately sixt but the top 5 were virtually side by side.  His last 100 was truly impressive as he simply blew away the field to win by .49. His final time of 3:42.39 meant Lagat ran a 51 last lap.

Chaos engulfed much of the rest of the field as France's Mehdi Baala tried to basically grab the two runners blocking his path to the finish and separate them with his arms - in a ridiculous move about 60 meters from the line. In the process, Baala knocked Morocco's Youssef Baba to the ground and a bunch of the runners behind this ran into the traffic and had their progress impeded.

All of the traffic probably made Lagat's margin of victory a bit larger than it would have been but after having watched the replay over and over, it's clear he was going to win the heat convincingly regardless.  Algeria's Tarek Boukens, who is 2nd on the 2007 world list, ended up second (3:42.88) as the final 3 qualifiers of Kiprop, (3:42.99)  France's Mehdi Baala (3:43.01) and Great Britain's Andrew Baddeley (3:43.03) had a virtual blanket finish as only .04 separated them. Baddeley had a fantastic last 100 as he entered the homestretch next to last. However, he went way wide and moved up unimpeded as the other runners struggled with the traffic.  After the race, Baala was correctly disqualified and as a result Kiwi and 2006 Commonwealth champ Nick Willis, who was moving up nicely in the last 100 but ran into the traffic, was moved up to 5th with Baala's DQ and got the last automatic spot for the final.

After an appeal, the IAAF also put Baba and Juan Carlos Higuero of Spain in the final. Baala's DQ is certainly good news for Webb fans as he was Webb's rival in Paris this year when he ran the year's 3rd fastest time of all the competitors in the field.

*The IAAF discusses the DQ here
*Message board thread on DQ

Kiprop certainly ran the race like an inexperienced 18-year old. He had the lead early, but allowed imself to get boxed in twice. First with 500 to go he as in a box, but then luckily saw lane 1 open up as he was able to move back up towards the front as the entered the bell. He then got boxed again before finding another surge in the final 100. Lots of wasted energy for sure but in the end it got the job done. Probably didn't help his confidence level any, but he had an overabundance of confidence with his finger waving antics in the first round.

Dan Komen was near the collision but was fading to begin with an leaves the World Champs disappointed as he did in 2005.

Lagat seemed pleased afte the race. He told USATF: "The race went OK. It went actually the way I wanted it. I didn't want to get into trouble today, running from the back all the way. At some point I got boxed in. I had to get myself out of it. I managed to get out and run the last 200 meters really hard. (The pace) didn't really matter to me. I knew it was terrible slow. I wanted to run the way it is."

Results

Position Bib Athlete Country Mark .
1 1113 Bernard Lagat USA 3:42.39 Q .
2 306 Tarek Boukensa ALG 3:42.88 Q .
3 769 Asbel Kiprop KEN 3:42.99 Q .
4 583 Andrew Baddeley GBR 3:43.03 Q .
5 879 Nicholas Willis NZL 3:43.34 Q .
6 822 Mohamed Moustaoui MAR 3:43.39 .
7 536 Mekonnen Gebremehdin ETH 3:43.41 .
8 510 Juan Carlos Higuero ESP 3:44.15 q .
9 680 Sajad Moradi IRI 3:46.21 .
10 772 Daniel Kipchirchir Komen KEN 4:02.95 .
11 808 Youssef Baba MAR 4:16.23 q .
. 556 Mehdi Baala FRA DQ

Results Before DQ:
Results Heat 1 - 27 august 2007
- Men's 1500 Semis

Position    Bib     Athlete     Country     Mark    .
1   1113    Bernard Lagat   USA     3:42.39 Q   .
2   306     Tarek Boukensa  ALG     3:42.88 Q   .
3   769     Asbel Kiprop    KEN     3:42.99 Q   .
4   556     Mehdi Baala     FRA     3:43.01 Q   .
5   583     Andrew Baddeley     GBR     3:43.03 Q   .
6   879     Nicholas Willis     NZL     3:43.34     .
7   822     Mohamed Moustaoui   MAR     3:43.39     .
8   536     Mekonnen Gebremehdin    ETH     3:43.41     .
9   510     Juan Carlos Higuero     ESP     3:44.15     .
10  680     Sajad Moradi    IRI     3:46.21     .
11  772     Daniel Kipchirchir Komen    KEN     4:02.95     .
12  808     Youssef Baba    MAR     4:16.23     

Intermediate Splits    Bib     Athlete     Nat     Event
400m    769     Asbel Kiprop    KEN     1:02.94
800m    510     Juan Carlos Higuero     ESP     2:07.87
1200m   536     Mekonnen Gebremehdin    ETH     3:03.74

Heat 2 - Ramzi Impresses, Webb Advances (Barely)
With the first heat being so slow, the runners in heat 2 started with an honest 57.95 first lap to insure that the two time qualifiers would come from this heat. The pace slowed the next 400 as 800m was reached in 2:01.73 and 1100 was reached in 3:02.43. At 400, 800, 1100 and 1200, American Alan Webb was in DFL as he got bumped around on the first lap and moved to the back to avoid the traffic. In the past, the critics of Webb have said he doesn't have great speed and that he doesn't know how to run tactical races given the fact he skipped out of college after one season of NCAA racing. Webb's 1:43.84 800 early this year likely quieted those who questioned his speed. However, there is certainly a difference between 800m speed and closing speed. After today's race, both doubts might still exist in relation to Webb. It's certainly clear that Webb isn't real comfortable running surrounded in a big back.  

As they entered the bell, we honestly wondered if something was totally wrong with Webb and perhaps he was sick or something and did learn from Dick Patrick in USAToday that he had a cold last week as patience hasn't been the antsy Webb's forte in the past.  With 300 to go, he started to so some signs of life and as he really started to kick as they approached the final turn. He then appeared to turn on the jets as they entered the final turn. Having watched Lagat just absolutely roll in heat 1, it appeared with 150 to go that Webb might be taking a similar course of action (the WCSN announcer also thought so and said "Here now comes Alan webb, making his way up through the field. He's timing it right - it looks like - just like Bernarg Lagat, the other American in the previous race.") and if Webb had done so we would now be praising the 24-year old for running like a veteran, being extremely confident and staying out of trouble.

The only problem was Webb's final 150 was unimpressive. Entering the final 100, Webb was in 8th but his final 100 resulted in virtually no separation as he had to fight all the way to the line. 20 meters from the line, he was still in 8th and he only movedup from 8th to 5th in the last 15 meters or so. In the end, he grabbed the final auto-qualifying spot in 3:41.08 - just .09 away from not making the final. The unfortunate sole left out of the final was Canada's Kevin Sullivan.

The Webb fans who are telling themselves that Webb took it easy just to conserve energy for the final - well they are simply wrong. Webb admitted as much after the race as he told USATF.

"I wasn't aggressive enough at the start. I had to do something I don't like doing, being in the back the whole time. It almost cost me a spot in the final. That's why you don't do that. I knew I was really close. I tried to count the guys. The last 50, I tried to stay as relaxed as I could. It was hard and there was so much going on. I just didn't want to get left out."

Moroccan Bahrain's Rashid Ramzi, who supposedly came into these championships at 75% fitness, looked great once again. So good that people are speculating that he's juiced. No way he's only 75% fit. He looked very much like the guy who was double world champion in 2005. He won the heat in 3:40.53 as Algeria's Antar Zerguelaine was 2nd in 3:40.79. Zerguelaine had a strong last 60 as he went from 5th to 2nd. Spain's Arturo Casado who lead the first 1200 was battling it out with Ramzi as they entered the homestretch ended up third in 3:40.83 as Bahrain's Ali Belal Mansoor was 4th in 3:41.01 (in our pre-meet predictions we picked Mansoor to win gold but would say after watching him today there is little chane he wins). Getting in on time after Webb were Spain's Sergio Gallardo (3:41.14) and Kenya's Shedrack Kibet Korir (3:41.15).

Results Heat 2 - 27 august 2007 -- Men's 1500 Semis
Position    Bib     Athlete     Country     Mark     .
1   408     Rashid Ramzi    BRN     3:40.53 Q   .
2   312     Antar Zerguelaine   ALG     3:40.79 Q   .
3   505     Arturo Casado   ESP     3:40.83 Q   .
4   404     Belal Mansoor Ali   BRN     3:41.01 Q   .
5   1154    Alan Webb   USA     3:41.08 Q   .
6   509     Sergio Gallardo     ESP     3:41.14 q   .
7   773     Shedrack Kibet Korir    KEN     3:41.15 q   .
8   827     Juan Luis Barrios   MEX     3:41.17     .
9   431     Kevin Sullivan  CAN     3:41.27     .
10  703     Christian Obrist    ITA     3:42.93     .
11  745     Fumikazu Kobayashi  JPN     3:43.64     .
12  793     Mohammed Shaween    KSA     3:44.54     .

Intermediate Splits    Bib     Athlete     Nat     Event
400m    505     Arturo Casado   ESP     57.95
800m    505     Arturo Casado   ESP     2:01.73
1200m   505     Arturo Casado   ESP     3:02.42


Final 9:05 am Easter on  Wednesday
The only way to watch the meet live in the US is on WCSN on the internet $4.95 for a 30 day membership


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