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LetsRun.com's 2009 IAAF Berlin World Championships Preview
Women's 1,500m - Exciting Entrants Make For Dramatic Race
The women's 1,500m is shaping up to be quite the competition. The main contenders come from Ethiopia, Kenya, the US, Russia and The Ukraine, and they are as diverse as the nations they represent.
Ethiopia will be led by Gelete Burka, who earlier in the year looked like the best women's miler in the world by far. But as always happens, some people come on later in the season and some fall off. Burka's fitness needs to be tip-top to even take down a medal in Berlin. If she's a little bit off, she'll be back in the pack like Alan Webb was in 2007. Maryam Jamal is Ethiopian-born but runs for Bahrain. She's the clear favorite and reigning world champion at the distance. She has been winning all of her big European races. All of the clues point to her winning this race, too.
Iryna Lishchynska of The Ukraine deserves mention as a pre-race favorite. She won't be a favorite to win the race, but will be favored for a medal if only because she's been the runner-up in the 2008 Olympics and 2007 Worlds. She has only run 4:05 this year but is dangerous in the 3-round championship format. Her competitors might take solace in Lishchynska's laid egg in Monaco, where she finished 13th in 4:13.
Russian women really got on track at the Russain Trials after being non-existent most of the year. They'll deplane in Berlin with 3:57, 3:58, 4:00 and 4:00 personal bests. Their leader has to be Anna Alminova (seen left). After seven of the top Russian women got busted last year for swapping urine with clean competitors, it's plain hard to root for this bunch. Or perhaps we can all believe they are clean and fighting for pure, honest competition in sport!
America enters their strongest-ever 1,500m squad to a World Championships with the likes of Christin Wurth-Thomas (3:59.98 SB/PR), Anna Willard (4:01 SB/PR) and Shannon Rowbury (4:00 PR, 4:03 SB). What a year for American middle-distance women! And we doubt they're being systematically doped. American women are running so well that 3:59.90 runner Jenny Barringer isn't even running the 1,500m in an attempt to medal in the steeplechase. Add to that Maggie Vessey owning the top time in the world in the 800m just a few days ago ... whew!
So medals galore for the American 1,500m runners, right? Wrong. It'll be tough to get a top 5 finish with the aforementioned competition plus the Kenyan contingent yet to be discussed. We think Anna Willard has the best chance of medaling thanks to her speed, overall fitness/athleticism/endurance and competitiveness at the end of races. We're glad to see she chose the 1,500m over the steeple. Wurth-Thomas (right) has had a spectacular and aggressive season and might just get a medal. We're excited to see how many of the three can make the final and how high they can go.
Women's 1,500m Statistics By LRC Coaching Guru John Kellogg
3:56.55 Maryam Yusuf Jamal (BRN) PR 3:56.18 (2006) Gold medal in 2007 World Championships, bronze medal in 2006 World Indoor Championships, gold medal in 2006 World Cup, 4th in 2008 World Indoor Championships, 5th in 2008 Olympic Games, 5th in 2005 World Championships