Unlike virtually every other race at these World Championships over 1,500m long, the women's steeplechase has the distinct possibility of being dominated by non-Africans. Spain's 33-year-old Marta Dominguez is the world leader with her 9:09 clocking, followed by three Russians. Among the Russian entrants are world-record holder and 2008 Olympic champion Gulnara Galkina and 2007 world champion Yekaterina Volkova. While the Russians are steeple veterans, Dominguez is
relatively new to the event, but she may be very dangerous as she has 14:48, 8:28, 4:04 PRs at the classic distances.
Before we go any further, we'd be willing to bet that 90% of you (if 10 people even read this thing) are reading this because of Jenny Barringer, so we'll cease all talk of other runners and let you know what her chances are.
In short, we think she has a very good chance of finishing in the top 5 in this race. To explain our contention, we'll highlight Barringer's insane accomplishments this year and contrast them with her 2008 and 2007 accomplishments. In 2009, Jenny Barringer has run 3:59 for 1,500 (video link), 8:42 for 3,000i, 15:01 for 5,000i, 2:02 for 800 and 9:25 in the steeple, which currently puts her at #11 on the world list.
We just took a second to think about those performances. There are only a couple dozen men/boys out of tens of millions of Americans who have run all those times this year.
In 2008, leading up to the Olympics, Barringer was much more focused on the steeplechase. Her best 1,500 was 4:11 that year, best 3,000 was 9:19 from the year before and best 5,000 was 15:48 from 2007 as well. She broke the American record running 9:22 in the Olympic final to get 9th.
Ahead of Barringer - and a mighty long way ahead, we might add - was Galkina (right), winning Olympic gold in world record time of 8:58. Volkova and Eunice Jepkorir followed in 9:07. Though Jepkorir is nowhere to be found in 2009, the Russians remain. More Kenyan and Ethiopian women are running the event every year, and they're getting better.
Gulnara Galkina (31)
Jenny Barringer (22)
8:58.81 WR ('08)
9:22.26 AR ('08)
Table 1. Personal Bests of Gulnara Galkina, age 31 and Jenny Barringer, age 22 (as of August 9, 2009)
Looking at the stats, few Kenyans, Ethiopians, or any steeplechasers have the ability of Barringer. Few of her opponents have cracked 4:00 for 1,500m. Few can top her flat 3,000m ability. We think Barringer will have a very tough, but winnable, battle for a world steeple medal. If the weather conditions are ideal, we would not be surprised to see her run under 9:05, or about 4:52/mile pace over barriers. She can kick, she can endure tough paces, she can run in heat, and she has Olympic experience. It will be very interesting to see just how fast Jenny Barringer
can run against the world's best in one of the world's newest events.
LRC Predictions: Gold: Gulnara Galkina RUS Silver: Jenny Barringer USA Bronze: Yekaterina Volkova RUS 4th: Ruth Bisibori KEN
Women's Steeplechase Statistics By LRC Coaching Guru John Kellogg
9:09.39 Marta Domínguez (ESP) (#5 all-time)
9:11.58 Gulnara Galkina (RUS) PR 8:58.81 WR (2008) Gold medal in 2008 Olympic Games, 7th in 2007 World Championships
9:13.18 Yuliya Zarudneva (RUS) (#6 all-time)
9:17.40 Yekaterina Volkova (RUS) PR 9:06.57 (#2 all-time) (2007) Gold medal in 2007 World Championships, silver medal in 2005 World Championships, bronze medal in 2008 Olympic Games
9:17.85 Ruth Bisibori Nyangau (KEN) PR 9:17.35 (2008) 4th in 2007 World Championships, 6th in 2008 Olympic Games
9:19.91 Sofia Assefa (ETH)
9:22.12 Hanane Ouhaddou (MAR) 9th in 2007 World Championships
9:22.15 Yelena Sidorchenkova (RUS)
9:22.23 Milcah Chemos (KEN)
9:24.40 Habiba Ghribi (TUN) 13th in 2008 Olympic Games
9:25.54 Jennifer Barringer (USA) PR 9:22.26 AR (2008) 9th in 2008 Olympic Games
9:25.62 Sophie Duarte (FRA) 5th in 2007 World Championships
9:26.03 Gladys Kipkemoi (KEN)
9:26.51 Lydia Rotich (KEN)+
9:26.85 Anna Willard (USA)+ PR 9:22.76 (#2 all-time USA) (2008) 10th in 2008 Olympic Games
9:28.88 Mekdes Bekele (ETH) PR 9:20.23 (2008)+
9:29.52 Korahubesh Itaa (ETH)
9:33.36 Cristina Casandra (ROU) PR 9:16.85 (#9 all-time) (2008) 5th in 2008 Olympic Games, 6th in 2007 World Championships, 7th in 2005 World Championships
9:33.74 Zemzem Ahmed (ETH) PR 9:17.85 (2008) 7th in 2008 Olympic Games
9:35.30 Lindsey Anderson (USA) PR 9:30.75 (#5 all-time USA) (2008)
9:36.74 Bridget Franek (USA) (#6 all-time USA)
+ = Not on Worlds Team in 3,000mSt.