Women's 1,500 Semifinals: Jenny Simpson & Hannah England Go Home As Morgan Uceny And Shannon Rowbury Advance To Final

None Of Top Nine Finishers From Last Year's Worlds Will Be In Friday's Final

By LetsRun.com
August 8, 2012
London, England

Editor's Note: This article has been updated with quotes from some of the leading non-Americans.

The 2012 Olympic track and field women's 1,500 final is all set and it won't include the gold or silver medallists from last year's World Champs, as Jenny Simpson of the US and Hannah England of Great Britain were sent packing on Wednesday evening in London. The final will include two Americans, as Shannon Rowbury and Morgan Uceny both advanced automatically in heat one. We recap the heats in detail at the bottom, but first we give you the post-race reaction from the three Americans.

Simpson Reacts
The World Champion Jenny Simpson faded to last place over the final 300 meters of heat two and leaves the Olympics without the opportunity to defend her global title in the final. Instead of slinking away, she had the courage to face the media and offered no excuses afterwards. "I'm not sick, I'm not hurt, I'm not out of shape. I just had a shameful performance today," Jenny said. Then trying to hold back tears she continued, "And I'm really sorry for all the people who care about me and work so hard with me. I feel like today is a perfect example of you give the people who root against you a victory and I didn't want to do that today and I feel really sorry for the people who do cheer for me."

Jenny felt like she's in better shape than last year and said, "I have no excuse, I'm in really good shape. The workouts indicate I'm in really good shape. I'm ready to run."

Jenny indicated she got a little bit ahead of herself thinking about the final before she was in it. She said, "If I could give any tidbit to people following in my footsteps it would be, "Dont let anyone talk to you about the final until you're into the final. It's so hard when you're a medallist moving into the next year, especially when you have nothing like a crutch like an injury where if it doesn't go right you can go, 'I can blame it on this.'"

She added, "The last two races I ran really poorly and I think that is because you have to earn every single step and I thought about the final before I earned it."

In the semi, Jenny did not use her come-from-behind tactics that she used so successfully last year in the final. She was in the middle of the pack for most of the race on the rail in fifth or sixth before fading to last. She said, "After two days ago (in round 1), I thought 'I cut it too close' and I tried to run really hard the whole way today. It's tough because it takes the kick of your legs ... but I should have been able to kick today."

Jenny may have forced it early on in the race, saying, "I have no excuse today. I just didn't execute today and maybe part of it was I tried too hard."

Jenny added, "You always hear athletes say 'I'm really ready to put together a good race today.' And I always though that was kind of silly, but you do realize there are way more components to racing than putting one foot in front of another and I just didn't have them today."

World #1 Morgan Uceny Reacts After Making Her First Olympic Final
The only American in the 1,500 semis tonight who hadn't previously been in an Olympic final was Morgan Uceny, as this is Uceny's first Olympics (Simpson ran the steeplechase final and Rowbury ran the 1,500 final in 2008). However, tonight, the world-ranked #1 in 2011, who was tripped at Worlds last year, ran like a savvy veteran as she took the lead early and ran as a co-leader for most of the first 1,100 to stay out of trouble. Then when she got swallowed by the pack just before the bell and a lot of runners came around her, she didn't panic and stayed calm as she knew the goal was simply top five and there was no need to begin the drive for home so far out.

"I realized a lap kick is a long way. As long as I kept my cool and was still on the outside I'd be able to make a move at the end when I needed to," said Uceny. Later she said, "I knew not to panic and to keep calm."

Uceny told us the plan wasn't to lead, but looking at the start lists she realized there wasn't a frontrunner, so she was ready for the possibility.

Uceny said there is fatigue in going through the rounds but she likes it, "I feel pretty good. I practice all year in dealing with the fatigue. I like running rounds, I like being tired. I'm more of a workhorse. it's fun for me."

Morgan said she felt good the last 100 and has been trying to keep a gear in reserve this year. "I always need to make sure I have an extra gear because I've been running too many races where I've gone too quickly," she said.

Morgan said to prepare for the end of races, she often races her training partner Anna Pierce and Pierce's husband Jon (a 13:41 5k guy with an 8:37 steeple PR) at the end of workouts.

Morgan was interested in watching the second heat on the TV screen, a race won by Ethiopian Abeba Aregawi in impressive fashion. After seeing it, Morgan remarked along the lines, "I hope she's tired."

Rowbury Gives Credit To Leo Manzano

In heat one, the fifth and final qualifier was the US's Shannon Rowbury, who used as a strong final 100m to qualify. She learned from her own first-round race and from her training partner's Leo Manzano's silver medal run last night.

She said, "I learned from my mistakes in round 1 and was inspired by Leo (Manzano) and his great performance as well and I just made sure to save my energy for the last lap because it is always blazing."

Shannon said she didn't see Leo until she was on the warmup track before the race. She said she was so excited for Leo she had trouble sleeping last night and had trouble taking a nap today. She said, Leo "taught me something about patience."

Shannon said it is "a litle hard and a little scary" to try and be so patient and save it for the end of the race. She does not have a specific strategy yet for the final.

The success of the American distance runners last year and this year (and her own failure last year) has helped her this year. She said, "Last year more than anything helped me. I did well in '08 (7th in the Olympics), I did well in '09 (bronze at World Championships). I was so young and so new, I did not appreciate and respect what an accomplishment that was until last year when I was injured and had to watch the final from a couch. Seeing Jenny win, seeing Matt get bronze, seeing Leo get silver, seeing Galen get silver, American middle distance and distance has finally matured to a world level and I'm really proud. Someone's got win, so why not me?"

Quick Take (QT) #1:  It's certainly been a topsy-turvy year in the women's 1,500. Not only will the gold and silver medallists be missing from the final, the top nine from last year's World Champs are not in the final of this year's Olympics. Only three finalists from last year are in the final this year and they were the three that finished last (Maryam Jamal), next-to-last (Hellen Obiri), and third-to-last (Morgan Uceny). Go figure.

QT #2: The heat winners were the two women in the Olympics who have run 3:56 this year in Turkey's Asli Cakir and Abeba Aregawi. Considering coming in they were 2.56 seconds ahead of the next-fastest person in the field this year, and given their wins tonight, they are two heavy favorites for the final.

Heat 1: Morgan Uceny Qualifies With Ease And Shannon Rowbury Joins Her In The Final As Asli Cakir Establishes Herself As The Favorite

When the race started, Russia's champ 25-year-old Ekaterina Kostetskaya, who attended HS in Arkansas and even ran the 800 at NCAAs back in 2007 (for more info on her, see an IAAF bio on her) and America's champ Morgan Uceny got up front with Kostetsakaya on the inside and Uceny on the outside, and they'd tow the field through 400 (66.06) and 800 (2:15.32). With the modest splits, this race was going to come down to the bell.

Just before the bell (3:05ish), Uceny's perfect position would go to a bad one as she was sixth and totally boxed. But she remained calm, knowing she only needed to be top five and not first, and looked very controlled throughout the final lap. Just before Bahrain's Mimi Belete, who was 7th at Worlds last year, made a big move, as she led with 300 meters remaining (4:05.91). Turkey's Asli Cakir, the woman who won Europeans and then ran 3:56 Paris, was the only one who really went with her and the move wouldn't hurt her but it proved to be too big of a move for Belete as she tied up a great deal in the homestretch and ended up eighth here in a race which featured a tight finish where the top eight all ran between 4:05.11 and 4:05.91. You can see how tight it was 11 seconds from the finish below.

With 200 meters remaining, the Americans were fifth and seventh respectively. Uceny always seemed poised to qualify and easily stayed in the top five throughout. Rowbury had to work for this one to get in the top five. Canada's Hilary Stellingwerff ended up sixth, just .10 out of qualification.

But the class of this field was Cakir, the woman who won Europeans and then ran 3:56 Paris.

QT #1: We forgot to write it down but think the last lap was 60-ish and last 800 2:06-ish at the front.

QT #2: Cakir, who has served a doping ban in the past, is the favorite in the final in our minds. Both she and Aregawi have run 3:56 this year but Cakir won their head-to-head matchup with ease - by 1.97 seconds.

QT #3: LRC did not catch up with Russian champ Ekaterina Kostetskaya, who went to high school and college in the US. She did tell the press, "I was ahead almost for the whole race. I wanted to get out quick because I did not want to get stuck in the middle or at the back, with all the pushing, and I was surprised no one followed. It was only in the home lap that I had to push a little harder to make sure I got in the final. I feel really well and I am relieved that I made it. Now I want to rest, analyse my race, see who else has gone through, work out my tactic and a race plan for the final. I want a medal for my country."

QT #4: Britain's 1,500m silver medalist from 2009, Lisa Dobriskey, came back from injury this year to make the final.

It was a long road back for Dobriskey, who was fourth at the 2008 Olympics. She told the press, "I was obviously really nervous about this. Every step of training was about standing on the Olympic start line, so I am really chuffed (pleased) to be here. The specialist looked me in the eye and said I should give up, that was the turning point that made me keep dreaming and believing. So I am really grateful to be here."

Position Bib Athlete Country Mark .
1 3084 Asli Çakir Alptekin TUR 4:05.11 Q .
2 2872 Ekaterina Kostetskaya RUS 4:05.32 Q .
3 3322 Morgan Uceny USA 4:05.34 Q .
4 1854 Lisa Dobriskey GBR 4:05.35 Q .
5 3314 Shannon Rowbury USA 4:05.47 Q .
6 1320 Hilary Stellingwerff CAN 4:05.57 .
7 1938 Corinna Harrer GER 4:05.70 .
8 1255 Mimi Belete BRN 4:05.91 (SB)
9 1855 Hannah England GBR 4:06.35 .
10 1648 Nuria Fernández ESP 4:06.57 (SB)
11 2616 Lucy Van Dalen NZL 4:06.97 .
12 1075 Kaila McKnight AUS 4:08.44 .
Intermediate Bib Athlete nat Mark
400m 2872 Ekaterina Kostetskaya RUS 1:06.05
800m 3322 Morgan Uceny USA 2:15.32
1,200m 1255 Mimi Belete BRN 3:19.48

Heat 2

The second heat was faster than heat one from the get go and it was pretty clear 800 meters in that the top seven were going to advance to Friday's final, as the opening splits were 65.58, 2:10.93, and 2:59.80 at 400, 800 and 1,100. 1,200 was hit in 3:15.35 - more than four seconds faster than heat one - and all you needed to do was finish in the top seven. Easier said than done. With 200 remaining, the contenders were starting to separate themsleves form the pretenders and the women in seventh was none other than two-time world champ Maryam Jamal. 2011 world champ Simpson, who had run virtually the entire race on the rail in fifth or sixth and was sixth at the bell, was just in tenth and moving in the wrong direction (picture below).

At this point, American mid-d fans, who have been trying to find reasons to believe that Jenny Simpson would somehow be able to shock the world yet again even though the stats were telling them otherwise, were hoping for a near miracle. Was Simpson saving it for a real late charge like she did in the prelims when she qualified with a burst in the last 150? No, Simpson's dream of an Olympic medal will have to wait for another four years as she'd fade to last in 4:06.89.

Up front, the world leader (ignoring the doper Mariem Selsouli, who has been banned) Abeba Aregawi of Ethiopia had taken the lead before 200 and was going on to the heat win in 4:01.03 thanks to a 61 last lap (leader-to-leader was 61.23).

The second-place finisher was a bit of a revelation as it was Gamze Bulut. Bulut just turned 20 on August 3rd and was the runner-up to her fellow countrywoman Cakir at Europeans this year, where she was .73 back. If you are .73 back of a 3:56 woman, you are a legitimate medal threat.

QT #1: The only thing that came close to stopping Aregawi here today was a near false start. She definitely totally moved before the start but she was well behind the line and they didn't call it back.

After the race, she told the press she's ready, "I am ready for the final. Of course my aim is to win a gold medal but only God knows whether I have a chance of winning gold or not. The field is full of talent and any one of us can win a gold medal."

QT #2: If you didn't watch the race and saw that two-time world champion Maryam Jamal also auto qualified, you might think she has a chance in the final. Perhaps, but we didn't think she looked very good.

That being said, Jamal maybe didn't look that great as she was purposely trying to save her best effort for the final: "I didn't push hard as I have to save energy for the final. I was just trying to qualify to the final and I was happy in doing so."

As for the final, she wants the one thing missing, Olympic gold: "I am confident and fit. Hopefully this will be the time for me to win gold. But it is difficult to make predictions in sport."

QT #3: Simpson was asked by a journalist about Lolo Jones being on the Today show this morning. Jenny didn't see it but elaborated on the us vs. them mentality that Lolo Jones talked about, saying, "You have to understand in sport - you have to realize everyone is an armchair quarterback and there are going to be people who root for you and people who root against you and all the people who root for me I try to give them more victories than those who root against me. So sorry I gave one to the enemy today, but we'll be back on our feet and hopefully I'll run really fast in Stockholm (the first Diamond League meet after the Olympics)."

QT #4: Brit Laura Weightman ran a PR to the make the final as she tied for the last lucky loser spot and the IAAF decided to put an extra person in the final. She is coached by British legend Steve Cram (1984 Olympic 1,500m silver, former WR holder) and she said,"I definitely knew I had a PB in me, I've been training really well."

Position Bib Athlete Country Mark .
1 1697 Abeba Aregawi ETH 4:01.03 Q .
2 3083 Gamze Bulut TUR 4:01.18 Q (PB)
3 2899 Tatyana Tomashova RUS 4:02.10 Q .
4 1259 Maryam Yusuf Jamal BRN 4:02.18 Q (SB)
5 2341 Hellen Onsando Obiri KEN 4:02.30 Q .
6 1181 Natallia Kareiva BLR 4:02.37 q (PB)
7 1879 Laura Weightman GBR 4:02.99 q (PB)
8 2995 Lucia Klocová SVK 4:02.99 q (NR)
9 2470 Siham Hilali MAR 4:04.79 .
10 1071 Zoe Buckman AUS 4:05.03 (PB)
11 1317 Nicole Sifuentes CAN 4:06.33 .
12 3316 Jennifer Simpson USA 4:06.89 .
Intermediate Bib Athlete nat Mark
400m 2899 Tatyana Tomashova RUS 1:05.58
800m 2899 Tatyana Tomashova RUS 2:10.93
1,200m 3083 Gamze Bulut TUR 3:15.35

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