Day 1 World Indoors: Bernard Lagat Survives A Scare, Little Dibaba Is A 1,500m Runner, Natallia Dobrynska And Ryan Whiting Turn Heads
March 9, 2012
Friday's afternoon session featured the semifinals of the men's 3,000m with Mo Farah, Bernard Lagat, Augustine Choge, Edwin Soi, Yenew Alamirew and Craig Mottram. It is the premier distance event at these Championships and Bernard Lagat would survive a scare. The other distance action in the pm was the women's 1,500m heats. There was great field event action with the first-ever 5,000-point score in the pentathlon and Ryan Whiting joining the 22.00m club in winning the shot put.
In the morning session, the big event for LRC distance fans was the men's 1,500m semifinals. Galen Rupp bowed out, Ilham Tanui arrived on the World stage and Matt Centrowitz advanced. All the other American distance runners except for Phoebe Wright advanced. For more on the morning session, click here.
Men's 3,000m All The Studs Barely Advance, Setting Up A Tremendous Final
Heat 1: Craig Mottram Looks Like He's Back, Edwin Soi Shows Off His Kick
Moses Kipsiro of Uganda, the double Commonwealth Games gold medallist, took the early pace and kept it honest the first 800 (2:06:30). The pace slowed at 1,600 (4:19.35). Bilisuma Shugi of Bahrain got things going again at 2,000m and the final 1,000m would be fast (2:27.34). Craig Mottram of Australia, coming off his recent win at 5,000m at the Australian champs, had been near the back early on and started moving up as the racing got going. By 2,400 he was in 4th. With 400 to go he was in second and at the bell Mottram was in the lead making a strong move. It was like the Mottram of old. Edwin Soi of Kenya is known for his kick and he would come past Mottram to get the win in 7:49.48 as Mottram was second. Kipsiro would get third and Yenew Alamirew, who ran 7:27 last year, got the final qualifying spot.
Lopez Lomong, the US flag bearer at the 2008 Olympics, who beat Galen Rupp for 2nd place at the US Championships last month, was in the mix of it throughout. However, there were six guys battling for the four spots at the end. Lomong would end up just out of the money in fifth, but would advance to the final on time.
Forget what we said about Soi being known for his kick above or what others have said about him: "blazing kick," "breathtaking kick," "devastating kick." This is what Soi said afterwards on his kick: "I am not good in sprinting, so I will pace the race (the final) and make team work with my compatriot Choge who runs in the next heat. I hope he will make it to the final. I pray for it."
Mottram said, "I am 31 years old and I had not run indoors in a long time, but the race in Melbourne gave me the confidence coming here. I ran pretty even and stayed confident. I have nothing to lose here."
Heat 2: Lagat And Farah Battle And Hayle Ibrahimov Of Azerbaijan Gives Lagat A Scare
Heat 2 was the one everyone anticipated. It featured World 5,000m Champion Mo Farah of Britain, two-time World Champion Bernard Lagat, and the 2012 world leader at 3,000m Augustine Choge of Kenya. Farah may have beaten Lagat at Worlds last year, but Lagat is the defending indoor 3,000m champion and the 3,000m may be his best event.
With only four guys guaranteed to make the final, there was no room for error. Heat 2 started much slower than heat 1 (2:13.24 at 800, 4:27.41 at 1,600) and that meant only four guys would make the final from this heat. After the slow opening mile, there was some jostling the next lap as Mo Farah got pushed backwards through the field. Farah, however, started moving back up to the front and took the lead with 800m to go (6:03 roughly) as the real racing started.
Farah Checks To See
If Lagat Made It
(More Yahoo Photos Here)
With 400m to go, eight runners were still battling for the four final spots. There was a little separation at the bell, but six guys were still in contention the final lap. On the tight indoor turns, that can mean trouble. Choge appeared boxed in at the bell as Farah was in front; however, Choge managed to get by Farah on the inside to take the lead. On the backstretch with Choge in the lead and Farah drifting out to try to get around him, Lagat tried to move up on the inside like Choge had just done to pass Farah, but Lagat ended up getting boxed in, as he ran up on the back of Choge. Around the final bend, Farah was charging hard on the outside and Gebremeskel, who had been in 6th at the bell, was also moving up on the outside and that left Lagat boxed. Coming off the final bend, Lagat did not have much track left with the short indoor straightaways and he had nowhere to go, trapped on the inside. Choge was best positioned in front and Farah had smooth sailing. Lagat, Gebremeskel, and Hayle Ibrahimov of Azerbaijan were battling for the final two spots. Lagat was on the inside in fourth right behind Ibrahimov and that's where Lagat had to stay. There was nowhere to go and if he didn't keep moving forward, he could get pushed back into 5th since Gebremeskel was charging on the outside.
Lagat looked like a man on a tightrope as he tried to go as far forward as he could on the inside of Ibrahimov. He did his best balancing act not to fall off into the infield. He did take one step on the infield, but did not pass anyone when he did. Lagat sneaked by Ibrahimov somehow. With the lean at the tape, Lagat actually managed to get third, .01 ahead of Gebremeskel, as Ibrahimov was the odd man out, fading just a tad the last 5 meters. Choge got the win, Farah was second, and only .31 separated the front five.
(The above two paragraphs have been edited after watching a replay of the race)
Lagat would not get DQed as he only took one left foot step on the infield. For more on the non-DQ, click here.
Afterwads, Lagat told the IAAF, "It's been a tactical race. There was a lot of pushing and shoving in this race. It's expected, there are lot of people who don't have experience, but I didn't expect it to be so crazy. I've been shoved before but not that wrong. I just wanted to qualify, I'm in already, so that's good. Now, the real race is going to be on Sunday."
Quick Thoughts: Lagat survived a scare. One more step on the inside and he would have been DQed. They all start from scratch in the final. And if you're wondering how the hell could a guy from Azerbaijan nearly ruin Lagat's Worlds, realize Hayle Ibrahimov is a good indoor runner and was the European indoor runner-up last year. This, however, may have been his best performance ever, but it wasn't good enough to get him in the final. If he had maintained his position on the rail and not let Lagat snaek by in the final 15 meters, Ibrahimov would have made the final. (LRC reader Doug points out that Ibrahimov is formerly Haile Desta Hagos of Ethiopia. He looked of African origin to us and thanks to Doug for the info.)
The final should be the race of the Championships. Farah, Lagat, Soi, Choge - not to mention Alamirew and Mottram. And while we talk of Mottram being back, realize he made the outdoor final last year, where he bombed and placed 13th.
We're baffled Soi does not think he has a good kick. Runners are known for being overconfident in their kicks. That's one reason none of the studs pushed the pace in heat 2, yet Soi thinks he has no kick when others have described it as "devastating."
Women's 1,500m Semifinals: Genzebe Dibaba Proving She's A Great 1,500m Runner
After things went great for the Americans in the morning qualifying, the first distance event of the evening session, the women's 1,500m, did not go well, as Americans Sara Vaughn and Brenda Martinez both combined to beat one other person in their two heats.
Heat 1: Genzebe Dibaba Shows What She's Been Doing All Season
In heat 1 Genzebe Dibaba showed why she has been the breakout female distance athlete of 2012. Dibaba, the younger sister of Ethiopians Tirunesh (11 World Championship gold medals, world 5,000m record holder) and Ejegayehu Dibaba (Olympic silver at 10,000m), is a former World junior cross-country champion. She tried to follow her older sisters into the long distance ranks, running the 5,000m at Worlds last year and placing 8th.
This indoor season, she has dropped down to the 1,500 and the results have been fabulous. She has run 4:01.97*, 4:00.13, and 4:01.33, dominating the competition (*she was DQed in Düsseldorf for breaking the stagger too soon). Here she took the lead just before the 1,000m and led the field the rest of the way. Isabel Macias of Spain and Natallia Kareiva of Belarus got the final automatic spots. Sara Vaughn was involved in some contact during the race and was a well-beaten 7th.
Heat 2: Martinez's Magical Indoor Season Ends
Brenda Martinez has had a fabulous indoor season, winning the USA Open at Madison Square Garden, battling for the win at the USATF Classic and nearly beating World Champion Jenny Simpson at the USA Championships. Here that all came to an end.
Asli Çakir Alptekin of Turkey made this race interesting. She led the first 800 (2:15) and from there to the finish would fall back and then make a sprint back to the front as the Turkish crowd cheered loudly. She couldn't keep it up around the final bend and would finish 5th, but six of the seven in this race would make the final. Coming home in first was Morocco's Mariem Alaoui Selsouli, who has run 4:00.77 outdoors and 4:03 indoors this season, ahead of sub-4 1,500m runner and drug cheat Hind Dehiba.
Martinez was never a factor in this one. She moved up to fifth at one point, but looked totally outclassed and finished 7th in 4:11.30. It reminded us that her 1,500m PR is still only 4:09.52. No doubt this wasn't her best day, but even if she ran her outdoor PR, she wouldn't have made the final. She's made nice progress this year, but still has a long way to go - especially with the US 1,500m ranks the best in the world right now.
Quick Thoughts: The final is Dibaba's to lose. She's really found her event at 1,500m this year.
Women's Pentathlon: Natallia Dobrynska Becomes First Over 5,000-Point Barrier And Picks Up $50,000
The women's pentathlon was a tremendous competition. In the end, Bejing Olympic champ Natallia Dobrynska ran a lifetime PR of 2:11.15 in the 800 (outdoor best 2:11.35, indoor best was 2:14.85) to get the gold, the world record and a $50,000 bonus.
Jessica Ennis got the silver in a lifetime best of 4,965. The pressure only increases for her, as she's Britain's best hope for female track gold.
Men's Shot Put: Ryan Whiting Reaches 22.00m Club
This, too, was a stellar competition. David Storl, the young World Champion from Germany, opened with a 21.88 World leader. Tomasz Majewski, the Olympic champ, would throw 3 Polish records, getting up to 21.72 into the 5th round, but would not overtake Storl. Reese Hoffa was throwing some bombs and fouling. Whiting was in 3rd place with his 21.59 opener. In the 5th round, he threw 22.00m, the first 22-meter indoor put since 2008. To show it wasn't a fluke, he followed up with a 21.98 in the final round. Whiting was a 5-time NCAA champion (once in the discus) and had thrown 21.73 way back in 2008 and 21.98 outdoors in 2010. This was his first time to hold up to the pressure of the World stage.
Other Action: Sally Pearson set a national record in the hurdles in qualifying. The 400m runners had to run 2 heats in the same day (one in the morning, one in the evening), which is unusual. The American men did not do well (Calvin Smith and Gil Roberts) and Kirani James got beaten in his semi but made the final. Sanya Richards and Natasha Hastings both made the final. Ashton Eaton is crushing the heptathlon after day 1.
More Day 1: LRC Morning Session - Rupp Goes Home, Meet Ilham Tanui, Centrowitz, Erica Moore, Jackie Areson, Sara Hall Make Finals The World indoors got underway and the big event for LRC distance fans was the men's 1,500m semifinals. Galen Rupp drew unfavorable heat 1 and put up a game effort but did not advance, as Ilham Tanui arrived on the World stage and Matt Centrowitz advanced. All the other American distance runners except for Phoebe Wright advanced, as the women's 3,000m, women's 800 and men's 800 got going.