Women's Olympic Steeplechase First Round in the Books
August 4, 2012
The morning session featured the women's steeplechase round 1 and the start of the men's 100m and men's 400m. We start with the steeplechase recaps below. All the favorites advanced but there was some drama.
Heat 1: Olympic Champ Struggles
When the kicking got going in this one it was unheralded Gesa Krause of Germany powering away at the front followed by Etenesh Diro of Ethiopia. Milcah Chemos of Kenya who won every Diamond League meet she ran last year before losing at the World Championships and has won every Diamond League meet she's run this year was farther back. She got the third of four automatic qualifying spots, but it did not look easy.
And then there was the Gulnara Galkina, the defending Olympic champ. She had to get into the final on time as she finished 5th in 9:28.76.
NCAA Champion Shalaya Kipp of the USA was 12th and did not advance in her first Olympics. Nonetheless it was an amazing experience (unlike at Worlds, the morning sessions here are before a sold-out crowd) for Kipp. She said, "They opened those doors and I heard the sound and at first I thought it was the wind and then I realized it was all the people, the crowd, they're fantastic, they're so loud. I thought when you hear that kind of noise on TV they are adding it in, but it's real."
Afterwards, Milcah Chemos did not have too much to say about her heat, but did complain about the weather. One thing is apparent is that many of the Kenyans do not like rain or the chance of rain. If the whether turns for the worse this week, it will be interesting to see how that affects the distance races.
|1||1945||Gesa Felicitas Krause||GER||9:24.91 Q||(PB)|
|2||1707||Etenesh Diro||ETH||9:25.31 Q||.|
|3||2328||Milcah Chemos Cheywa||KEN||9:27.09 Q||.|
|4||2401||Polina Jelizarova||LAT||9:27.21 Q||(NR)|
|5||2858||Gulnara Galkina||RUS||9:28.76 q||.|
|11||2468||Salima El Ouali Alami||MAR||9:44.62||.|
Heat 2: Emma Coburn Advances
Heat 2 featured a fall in the first 800. Clarisse Cruz of Portugal was in the lead, hit a hurdle and went down (photo here). Emma Coburn, the US champ, then took over the front leading duties and would lead until the final push for home began.
Coburn said the plan was not to lead, but after the fall she wanted to ensure she would make the final on time, so she led.
Sofia Assefa of Ethiopia got the win in this one convincingly as Coburn was a comfortable qualifier for the final. Marta Dominguez, the 2009 World Champion, had to fight a little bit more to make the final in the final automatic spot. Clarisse Cruz survived the fall to make the final on time.
Afterwards Assefa sounded confident for the final, "It was a great race. I didn't even use my full energy to win the heat. I was saving my energy for the final. Winning the race will give me extra confidence for the final."
Coburn said it despite being the Olympics the key is to focus on the task at hand, "I'm so thrilled to be here and so honored to have these three letters across my chest, but I have to treat is as another meet... It's (still) a 400 m track, there's the same amount of water jumps, the same amount of barriers. It's about keeping everything in perspective. Although there's an Olympic village, there's flags, there is gear, there is media. I just have to have a tunnel (vision) of what the end goal is. It's a steeple chase, it's 3000 meters. Whether it's Potts (Field) in Boulder or London England at the Olympics I have to stay focused and grounded."
Coburn now turns her focus to the final. She was 12th last year, and said she "would like to meet that or beat that. Try and be a little more engaged in the race rather than off the back like I was in Daegu."
|1||1699||Sofia Assefa||ETH||9:25.42 Q||.|
|2||3069||Habiba Ghribi||TUN||9:27.42 Q||(SB)|
|3||3278||Emma Coburn||USA||9:27.51 Q||.|
|4||1646||Marta Domínguez||ESP||9:29.71 Q||.|
|5||2723||Clarisse Cruz||POR||9:30.06 q||(PB)|
|6||2896||Yelena Sidorchenkova Orlova||RUS||9:33.14||.|
|7||3164||Valentyna Horpynych Zhudina||UKR||9:37.90||.|
|8||2342||Lydia Chebet Rotich||KEN||9:42.03||.|
Heat 3: Bridget Franek Makes Her First Final
Heat 3 featured 2011 World Champion Yuliya Zaripova of Russia.
American Bridget Franek, hoping to make her first final at a global championship did some of the early leading. She got knocked out of the front four automatic qualifying spots when the pace increased for home, but Franek held on to run 9:29.86 and make her first final.
In the mixed zone, when Franek was told she had made the final she shrieked, high fived people around her, yelled, "This is awesome" and was really excited. Soon after she was holding back tears. Making the Olympic final clearly meant a lot to Franek as the emotions overcame her.
"It's so amazing. I made two World Championships teams and I never made the final... I kind of thought, if I can't get it done here, maybe I'm not cut out for this level," she said.
Franek said she was running for some of her training partners (Lauren Fleshman, Julia Lucas) who couldn't make it to the Olympics and for the people back home in her home state of Ohio. She said the support from everyone has been amazing and she realized "the prelims wouldn't be shown" on NBC, so making the final is even better because everyone back home will now get to see her.
|1||1700||Hiwot Ayalew||ETH||9:24.01 Q||.|
|2||2902||Yuliya Zaripova||RUS||9:25.68 Q||.|
|3||2340||Mercy Wanjiku Njoroge||KEN||9:25.99 Q||.|
|4||1952||Antje Möldner-Schmidt||GER||9:26.57 Q||(SB)|
|5||3290||Bridget Franek||USA||9:29.86 q||.|
Other Action: LaShawn Merritt Out of 400m, Usain Bolt Starts 100m, Ryan Bailey Runs Fast
The big news in round 1 of the 400m was defending champ LaShawn Merritt pulling up and not advancing. Merritt dropped out of Monaco with a problem in his left leg two weeks ago and the problem caused him to drop out here. He talked of trying to run the relay afterwards, but there is no way the US can risk putting him on the team.
Former Florida State star Jonathan Borle blasted a 44.43 Belgium national record. There is no doubt this track is really fast.
Blade runner Oscar Pistorius made the second round and David Epstein of SI has a lengthy article on Pistorius' blades and any advantage he may have here.
*IAAF recap of 400 here
*NY Times article on Pistorius advancing
In the 100m, Usain Bolt won his heat in 10.08, the slowest winning time of any of the heats as Bolt had a bad start and never really exerted himself. Ryan Bailey, the third place at the US Trials, ran a 9.88 pr. Once again as we said above, "There is no doubt this track is really fast."
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