Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Men's 1,500 Semis: Lagat/Ramzi Impress - Webb Doesn't
(Voting was before
Round 1 of the 1500m)
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
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.
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.
Results Before DQ:
Intermediate Splits Bib Athlete Nat Event
Heat 2 - Ramzi Impresses, Webb Advances (Barely)
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.
Results Heat 2 - 27 august 2007 -- Men's 1500 Semis
Cross Country Spikes