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Men's 1,500m Round 1 - All 4 Americans Move To Semis While Algerian 1, 2 Fail To Advance

By LetsRun.com
August 15, 2009

Scenario: Opening Round Heats. 4 Heats, Top 5 Automatically Advance Plus Next 4 Fastest Times

The opening day of the Berlin World Championships featured the first round of the men's 1,500m, where only 24 of the world's top 1,500m runners would advance to the semifinal ronud.

After one round, the Kenyans and Americans seem to be the big winners, while the Algerians lost their top two competitors, both medal hopefuls.

The USA team advanced all four of their entrants, partly due to good fortune and partly due to fantastic finishing speed from global championship veterans.

Heat 1 - Baala Impresses And Manzano Makes Big Step Forward
Heat 1 began a trend of slowly-paced opening 800s, setting up kicker's finishes. After passing 800m in only 2:06, kick they did as Mehdi Baala (FRA), Leo Manzano (USA) and Abdalaati Iguider (MAR) closed in the range of 1:51 for 800m to take the top three spots in that order.

Manzano, who talked to LetsRun.com's Weldon Johnson after the race (right), displayed a real step up in class, finishing ahead of Iguider, Aussie Jeff Riseley and Bahraini Belal Mansoor Ali.

The biggest casualty of Heat 1 was Spaniard Arturo Casado, usually one of the best closers in the world in the 1,500. He was seventh at this meet in 2007.

Returning to Manzano, he got in a real pinch with 300 to go but, as he mentions in his interview, he was able to stay calm and burst through when a gap emerged, running his final 300 through traffic in under 39 seconds.

Heat 1 Results Men's 1,500m Round 1

1 436 Mehdi Baala FRA 3:42.77 Q
2 1203 Leonel Manzano USA 3:42.87 Q
3 808 Abdalaati Iguider MAR 3:42.88 Q
4 144 Jeffrey Riseley AUS 3:43.03 Q
5 232 Belal Mansoor Ali BRN 3:43.06 Q
6 356 Arturo Casado ESP 3:43.21
7 408 Mekonnen Gebremedhin ETH 3:43.22
8 647 Christian Obrist ITA 3:43.41
9 349 Hais Welday ERI 3:43.84
10 1046 Goran Nava SRB 3:44.13
11 769 Mohammed Shaween KSA 3:49.03
12 816 Chauncy Master MAW 3:50.73
13 841 Abdallahi Nanou MTN 4:09.77 (PB)
1106 Boampouguini Djigban TOG DNF

Heat 2 - Kiprop And Lagat Advance, Going 1-2 In Tough Heat
The second heat was loaded with Kenyan Olympic medalist Asbel Kiprop, 2007 world champ Bernard Lagat of the US, 2008 Olympic 5th-placer Anter Zerguelaine of Algeria, many-time world medalist Rui Silva of Portugal and Juan Carlos Higuero of Spain, to name a few.

Unfortunately for Zerguelaine, the pace was not quick (800m in 2:03), and his 6th-place finish ultimately cost him a spot in the semifinal as the four favorites above plus South African Peter Van der Westhuizen took the automatic spots. Kiprop and Lagat performed perfect tactical races to go 1-2 off the slow pace. Weldon Johnson caught up with Kiprop after the race (right), though it's a bit hard to make out his words. Lagat talks a bit further down along with Dorian Ulrey.

Also after the race, Weldon Johnson caught up with Aussie Ryan Gregson (interview below), who led the first 500m or so of the heat before fading to 10th. Gregson said he looked at the heat sheet and said to himself, "If I'm going to have a crack I need to just put my balls on the line. And I gave it a shot." Gregson went on to give an interesting opinion on who the best American junior runner is, and you might be surprised who he named.

Heat 2 Results Men's 1,500m 1st Round

1 727 Asbel Kipruto Kiprop KEN 3:41.42 Q
2 1196 Bernard Lagat USA 3:41.60 Q
3 366 Juan Carlos Higuero ESP 3:41.77 Q
4 940 Rui Silva POR 3:41.98 Q
5 983 Peter van der Westhuizen RSA 3:42.33 Q
6 109 Anter Zerguelaine ALG 3:42.37
7 615 Thomas Chamney IRL 3:42.54
8 511 Thomas Lancashire GBR 3:42.68
9 566 Carsten Schlangen GER 3:44.00
10 136 Ryan Gregson AUS 3:44.79
11 1051 Abdalla Abdelgadir SUD 3:47.78
12 334 Bayron Piedra ECU 3:49.60
13 246 Bunting Hem CAM 4:08.64 (SB)
14 523 Benjamín Enzema GEQ 4:13.17 (PB)

Heat 3 - Lomong Makes It 3-for-3 For Team America
With two of four heats completed, already two favorites were sweating, hoping the remaining heats would go slowly and allow them to somehow grab a time-qualifying spot. Amazingly, the third heat was the slowest of the four heats (2:08, 3:05) and as a result came down to another mad sprint to the line.

The big winners in Heat 3 were American Lopez Lomong (a close third) and Britain's 2008 miling sensation Andy Baddeley (4th). Favorites Augustine Choge (3:29 this year), Amine Laalou (moving up from the 800m, his former race specialty) and Henok Legesse (ETH) advanced, but again Algeria was disappointed, as Tarek Boukensa finished in 6th, the same spot he finished last year in the Olympic final. He didn't know it at the time, but he would miss out on the WC sem-final when all was said and done.

Heat 3 Results Men's 1,500m Round 1

1 721 Augustine Kiprono Choge KEN 3:44.73 Q
2 810 Amine Laalou MAR 3:44.75 Q
3 1198 Lopez Lomong USA 3:44.89 Q
4 489 Andrew Baddeley GBR 3:45.23 Q
5 412 Henok Legesse ETH 3:45.63 Q
6 104 Tarek Boukensa ALG 3:45.65
7 187 Kristof van Malderen BEL 3:46.03
8 467 Yoann Kowal FRA 3:46.42
9 960 Johan Cronje RSA 3:46.45
10 145 Jeremy Roff AUS 3:47.08
11 951 Mohamad Al-Garni QAT 3:50.55
12 845 Álvaro Vásquez NCA 3:55.06 (PB)
13 837 Antoine Berlin MON 4:27.52

Heat 4 - Fastest Heat Yields All 4 Time Qualifiers
The 6th-place finishers from heats 1, 2 and 3 all cringed when Estonia's Tiidrek Nurme put his foot on the gas pedal, clicking off 58 and 1:58 for the first two lap splits. The pack would come through 1,200m in 2:56, nearly four seconds faster than any of the other heats, basically ensuring all four time qualifiers would come from the final heat.

In all, nine men qualified for the semis from Heat 4. Some competitors like Nate Brannen and Dorian Ulrey got a little lucky, as their 7th- and 8th-place finishes yielded passes to the next round. Great Britain's James Brewer, headed to Cal next year and added as a late addition to the British squad, needed no luck as he finished in 3rd, running a PR of 3:37.17 to defeat, among others, Bahrain's Yusuf Kamel.

Ethiopian Deresse Mekonnen and Kenyan Haron Keitany were the heat leaders, less than 0.2 seconds ahead of Brewer.

Coming in behind the five automatic qualifiers were two exhausted runners in Dorian Ulrey (interviewed above, joined by Bernard Lagat) and Brannen. Ulrey, speaking after the race, said, "It hurts ... It was the first race in over a month. To come back and just kind of bust off the rust with a 3:38 was ... not bad." The Arkansas rising senior was clearly happy with his race though he was in a world of pain.

Heat 4 Results Men's 1,500m Round 1

1 413 Deresse Mekonnen ETH 3:37.04 Q
2 723 Haron Keitany KEN 3:37.13 Q
3 491 James Brewer GBR 3:37.17 Q (PB)
4 811 Mohamed Moustaoui MAR 3:37.34 Q
5 233 Yusuf Saad Kamel BRN 3:37.59 Q
6 362 Reyes Estévez ESP 3:38.23 q (SB)
7 249 Nathan Brannen CAN 3:38.35 q
8 1239 Dorian Ulrey USA 3:38.86 q
9 106 Taoufik Makhloufi ALG 3:40.04 q
10 531 Stefan Eberhardt GER 3:40.05
11 483 Mounir Yemmouni FRA 3:42.06
12 395 Tiidrek Nurme EST 3:43.73 (SB)
13 110 Víctor Martínez AND 4:02.10 (SB

Americans Celebrate Perfect 4-for-4 Performance
Riding a positive wave of emotion, the American squad of 1,500m runners was very happy, as all four managed to advance to the second and penultimate round of the World Championships.

Lopez Lomong, the 2008 American Olympian in charge of carrying the flag at the Beijing opening ceremonies, summed up the American accomplishment: "To be able to put four in the semis is beautiful for us. It's great."

But the happiest member of the team seemed to be their leader and world champion Bernard Lagat, who was all smiles when he found out that young Dorian Ulrey has managed his way into the final. Ulrey, physically drained from the race, was worried about the next round, but Lagat reminded him that tomorrow is another day.

When asked what he felt his impact has been on American miling, Lagat responded, "These guys now, when they are training, when they are competing against me at nationals ... they want to be the best and they want to beat me. That thinking alone ... raises the bar."

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day OneThe next round of the 1,500m will take place on Monday August 17th, while the final comes on Wednesday the 19th. 12 men will advance to the final.





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