March 8, 2014
Sopot, Poland – Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman controlled the men’s 1500m final and won his first global championship to establish himself as a new mid-d star.
Our full LRC recap of the race with analysis, post-race video, and results is here. If you already know what happened and just want the post-race reaction we’ve got it in this article as we’ve pulled our interviews out of that piece and put them here.
Meet Ayanleh Souleiman the World’s Newest Mid D Star
Makhloufi Out of Jama Aden’s Group: We talked one-on-one with Souleiman after the race. He revealed to us several things of note. For starters, he said that 2012 Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi is no longer part of his training group in Ethiopia that Jama Aden coaches. Genzebe Dibaba and Abubaker Kaki are the other big names in the group.
As for outdoors, Souleiman said he may try the 5000 and said he is looking forward to 2016, when he’s going to run some combination of 1500/5000 not 800/1500. He talked about eventually being like Mo Farah and doing the 10,000 and marathon.
If Souleiman ends up being the face of mid-d running the next few years, the sport will be in good hands. He’s got a bit of natural charisma that he displayed by doing a little victory dance on the track after winning and he has decent at English.
Since we’re not sure if his dance made the TV feed or not, we asked him to recreate it for us in the mixed zone. He obliged:
Nick Willis: After the race, Nick Willis was a little down on himself for not being more aggressive as he said he lost bronze because the other guys had “more balls” than him.
“Those guys just had more balls than me today – to go after it. The (top two) were obviously the better runners but (comparing) the guy that finished third and me and the guy that finished fifth, the only difference was they went at it and I didn’t,” said Willis.
Earlier he said, “Right now, I’m just really disappointed. I somewhat executed the plan I wanted- hang back the first bit and then move into position. With 600 to go, get on the shoulder of the leader in third, but I think I made too much of an effort (to get) there. When they went with 300 to go, I wasn’t aggressive enough. I knew I had to give it everything I had with 250 to go. I haven’t been tying up in training. I’ve been dead but I’ve been able to muscle the last 100. But I didn’t do it and third place got away from me. I was catching him at the end but there wasn’t enough real estate. I’m just really disappointed in myself.”
Personally, we thought Willis ran a near perfect tactical race. He started the race in last, but by 400 was in sixth. With 600 remaining, Willis was in third and had done very little work to get there. The other guys went for it earlier than he did though as he was fifth at the bell and only able to pick off one guy before the finish.
Willis came through the mixed zone before the DQ was announced but commented on it via twitter after the fact:
Dq’d for taking step inside rail on final turn. Our belief is Turkish runner cut down on me to prevent the pass and bumped me.
Please pray for a calm heart as I await news on our dq appeal. Tempting to get angry but I know God is bigger than results
Appeal denied. Painful but serves me right for trying to pass on inside.
Either way, very dissapointed not to finish in top 3. Surprised how much it hurts actually. Still very blessed
Will Leer Not a Factor, Talks of Possible Boycott of USATFs: American Will Leer, who like Willis is coached by Ron Warhurst, also felt he should have been more aggressive as there was little chance he’d come from last to the medal podium late in this one. He said he just felt a little off his game despite doing everything he possibly could to recover from last night’s 3:38 semifinal. He said he’s never had to run the day after running a 3:38. Leer took an ice bath last night to try to help his recovery, but still found it hard. He said the first 400 felt way faster than 58 (in reality it was 59).
“I just heard my training partner Nick Willis say, ‘Those guys committed and I didn’t.’ I had a mental lapse in there and was kind of ok with running in the back,” said Leer.
In the grand scheme of things, Leer recognized he’s had a good indoor season as he won the NYRR Wanamaker mile in a pb of 3:52.87 – which was the fastest mile in the world indoors this year.
“At the end of the day, I can’t be too upset as it’s my first Worlds final but I was hoping for more.”
Outdoors, Leer said he may try the 5000 at USAs, but also said that many US distance runners are contemplating a boycott of USAs to pressure USATF to get its act together.
“There’s an overwhelming sense of disappointment (about USATF) among USA distance athletes right now,” said Leer. “We’re just not sure what is going on. We just want transparency and if we can’t have that then we won’t support the organization,” said Leer.