Women's Olympic Steeplechase First Round in the Books

By LetsRun.com
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 .
6 1870 Barbara Parker GBR 9:32.07 .
7 1381 Zhenzhu Li CHN 9:34.29 (SB)
8 1650 Diana Martín ESP 9:35.77 (PB)
9 1072 Genevieve LaCaze AUS 9:37.90 (PB)
10 2200 Korene Hinds JAM 9:37.95 (SB)
11 2468 Salima El Ouali Alami MAR 9:44.62 .
12 3302 Shalaya Kipp USA 9:48.33 .
13 2076 Sudha Singh IND 9:48.86 .
14 1185 Sviatlana Kudzelich BLR 9:54.77 .
15 3101 Binnaz Uslu TUR 10:31.00 .
Intermediate Bib Athlete nat Mark
1000m 2858 Gulnara Galkina RUS 3:08.77
2000m 2858 Gulnara Galkina RUS 6:22.09

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 .
9 2111 Stephanie Reilly IRL 9:44.77 .
10 3096 Gülcan Mingir TUR 9:47.35 .
11 2691 Katarzyna Kowalska POL 9:48.60 .
12 2749 Beverly Ramos PUR 9:55.26 .
13 2764 Cristina Casandra ROU 9:58.83 .
14 1394 Anna Yin CHN 10:09.10 .
15 1426 Ángela Figueroa COL 10:25.60 .
Intermediate Bib Athlete nat Mark
1000m 3278 Emma Coburn USA 3:09.56
2000m 3278 Emma Coburn USA 6:21.03

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 .
6 2762 Ancuta Bobocel ROU 9:31.06 .
7 3118 Docus Inzikuru UGA 9:35.29 .
8 1732 Sandra Eriksson FIN 9:50.71 .
9 1863 Eilish McColgan GBR 9:54.36 .
10 2467 Kaltoum Bouaasayriya MAR 9:58.77 .
11 1267 Silviya Danekova BUL 9:59.52 .
12 3189 Svitlana Shmidt UKR 10:01.09 .
13 3093 Özlem Kaya TUR 10:03.52 .
14 2700 Matylda Szlezak POL 10:08.84 .
Intermediate Bib Athlete nat Mark
1000m 1952 Antje Möldner-Schmidt GER 3:08.73
2000m 1700 Hiwot Ayalew ETH 6:19.31

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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