Fall in Round 1 of Women's 1500 Makes It Interesting as All 3 American Advance

By LetsRun.com
August 28, 2011

With 35 women starting round 1 of the women's 1500 and 24 of them making Tuesday's semifinal it's hard to have too much sympathy for anyone who did not make the semi-final.  Originally we had some sympathy for Ethiopia's Kalkidan Gezahegne who got caught up in a fall 50m from the finish, but she has been added to the final (story updated below).

Heat 1: Fall in Final 50m Helps Shannon Rowbury

Heat 1 had all the drama in round 1.

The heat featured Olympic champion Nancy Langat, 2009 Worlds bronze medallist Shannon Rowbury and the lady who has been running better than both of them in 2011, 2010 World indoor champ Kalkidan Gezahegne of Ethiopia.

The race went out slow 2:22.55 (800) and 3:14.52 at the bell when the running began. The slow pace meant everyone but tourist Tandiwe Nyathi of Zimbabwe was in contention.  The field blasted the next 100 in under 15 seconds reaching 1100 at 3:29.13. On the backstretch Gezehegne, Mimi Belete of Bahrain, former Florida State star Hannah England, and Siham Hilali of Morocco were up front.

Nikki Hamblin After Falling

Down the final straight the field was fighting for the six automatic qualifying spots for the semi-final. Up front Hannah England looked like a medal threat as she got the win with Belete and Hilali right near her. Behind them is where it got interesting. American Shannon Rowbury was in 7th and was not gaining on the front six with roughly 50 meters to go. Then New Zealand's Nikki Hamblin clipped Gezahegne's legs from behind and down went Hamblin. Gezahegne stumbled into the infield but stayed upright and kept racing for the line getting back into lane one, but she lost a lot of momentum. Olympic champion Langat had her stride altered dealing with the chaos.

The calamity was the gift Rowbury needed. Natalya Evdokimova moved up from behind Rowbury to end up fourth. Langat moved back to fifth and that left the final qualifying spot available with Hamblin down on the track out of the mix. Rowbury was able by .02 to nip Gezahegne for the final automatic qualifying spot. (After an appeal Gezahegne was added to the semi-final).

Afterwards we talked to Rowbury and Hamblin. Hamblin unintentionally caused the fall. She said she felt good and there wasn't a lot of room to move up. She plans on filing a protest hoping to get into the semi-final. The most deserving to get in the semi-final would be Gezahegne and if this was the USAs championships we have no doubt she'd be advanced.

Rowbury was the biggest beneficiary of the fall. With her success in 2009, she looked forward to the next round. She said, "With 250 to go I don't think I realized how many people were right there and got a little bit boxed...I'm definitely a strength oriented 1500m runner and in the past historically with each round I've gotten stronger." On the fall she said, "You never know who is going to go down but it seems like without fail someone does unfortunately." She also pointed out how Worlds is different as none of the athletes have raced in the last 3 weeks.

1 388 Hannah England GBR 4:13.45 Q

Shannon Rowbury Feels Good Despite Narrowly Advancing

2 180 Mimi Belete BRN 4:13.50 Q
3 644 Siham Hilali MAR 4:13.59 Q
4 752 Natalya Evdokimova RUS 4:14.36 Q
5 582 Nancy Jebet Langat KEN 4:14.37 Q
6 973 Shannon Rowbury USA 4:14.43 Q
7 347 Kalkidan Gezahegne ETH 4:14.45
8 318 Isabel Macías ESP 4:14.75
9 899 Anzhelika Shevchenko UKR 4:16.22
10 1003 Tandiwe Nyathi ZIM 4:32.79 (PB)
11 695 Nikki Hamblin NZL 4:36.70

Heat 2 Lisa Dobriskey Goes Home

Heat 2 featured Natalia Rodriguez who crossed the line first in the 1500m final in 2009 but was disqualified for a foul, 2009 silver medallist Lisa Dobriskey of the UK, and American Jenny (Barringer) Simpson, the former NCAA star from Colorado.

Simpson took it out in 69.75 and 2:20.89 - slow, but not as slow as the first heat. The pace then picked up, but at the bell (3:10.80) ten women were still in contention for the six spots. On the backstretch Turkey's Tugba Karakaya (European under-23 silver medallist) was battling with Rodriguez and Kenya's Viola Kibiwot, while Simpson was in fourth.

Down the homestretch there was not a lot of drama as the first seven were clear of everyone else, with the 7th runner Olesya Syreva gapped by the front six. The unheralded Karakya looked best up front and powered home to the win in 4:10.38. Simpson had nothing to worry about and got 5th.

The big news was Lisa Dobriskey way back in 11th. The silver medallist from 2009 had a really off day and was not a factor the last lap. Dobriskey smiled as she talked to the media afterwards, but will be going home after round 1.

Afterwards Simpson noted her experience leading steeplechases helped her feel comfortable leading here. She added, "I knew when they came to run hard, I was going to be ready to go... (The final stretch) I knew I was going to make it in. It was a good feeling." She also there are many similarities to the 1500 and steeple with the athletes having to be able to change gears.

1 861 Tugba Karakaya TUR 4:10.38 Q

Jenny Simpson After Advancing

2 645 Btissam Lakhouad MAR 4:10.71 Q
3 577 Viola Jelagat Kibiwot KEN 4:10.74 Q
4 327 Natalia Rodríguez ESP 4:10.76 Q
5 919 Jennifer Barringer Simpson USA 4:10.84 Q
6 906 Nataliya Tobias UKR 4:10.99 Q
7 787 Olesya Syreva RUS 4:11.24 q
8 147 Natallia Kareiva BLR 4:12.03
9 186 Genzeb Shumi BRN 4:12.32
10 336 Meskerem Assefa ETH 4:12.43
11 386 Lisa Dobriskey GBR 4:12.70
12 310 Gladys Landaverde ESA 4:28.50 (SB)

Heat 3: Jamal and Uceny Cruise

Heat 3 was a test of human intelligence. With the fastest non-qualifying time of the day so far being 4:11.24 from heat 2, would the women ensure an honest pace so possibly the entire heat field of 12 could make the semi-final (the top 6 in each heat plus the next 6 fatest times made the semi-final)?


The heat featured two time World Champion Maryam Jamal, 2011 US sensation Morgan Uceny (2 Diamond League wins) and Ethiopian world indoor champ Gelete Burka.

Australia's Kaila McKnight took over the modest pace (69.25) before 800 (2:16.15) to make sure there would be a lot of qualifiers on time from this heat.

Right before the bell, Jamal took the lead with Uceny right on her shoulder. They would remain upfront the rest of the way with Jamal winning the heat, and Uceny finishing 3rd as Spain's Nuria Fernandez moved up. Kenya's Hellen Obiri actually set a pr in 4th in 4:07.59. Burka was only 6th in 4:07.91 but it would not matter as 11 of the 12 in this heat made the semifinal on time.  They can all thank Kaila McKnight who made the pace honest and was rewarded with a 9th place spot in the semi.

Afterwards Jamal said she was concerned about the heat (things are not nearly as hot as we expected here but when the 1500m runners warmed up the sun was out for the first time since we've been here). Uceny told us after getting beat in Monaco she focused on training again and thinks it has helped her. She said, "My coach (Terrence Mahon) made the call to not race after Monaco to just train again. I wanted to race more... but I think he made the right call... I got my mileage back."

1 184 Maryam Yusuf Jamal BRN 4:07.04 Q

Morgan Uceny Talks About Just Training and Not Racing Before Worlds

2 316 Nuria Fernández ESP 4:07.29 Q
3 982 Morgan Uceny USA 4:07.43 Q
4 586 Hellen Onsando Obiri KEN 4:07.59 Q (PB)
5 773 Ekaterina Martynova RUS 4:07.76 Q
6 342 Gelete Burka ETH 4:07.91 Q
7 858 Asli Cakir TUR 4:08.05 q
8 688 Ingvill Måkestad Bovim NOR 4:08.26 q
9 117 Kaila McKnight AUS 4:08.74 q
10 709 Renata Plis POL 4:08.83 q
11 887 Anna Mishchenko UKR 4:09.02 q
12 641 Malika Akkaoui MAR 4:14.79


QT1: If Gezahegne is not put in the semi then USATF needs to stop putting any athlete who basically falls down at its championships into the next round.

Gezahegne has been added to the semi-final.


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