March 7, 2014
Sopot, Poland – Before today’s first round of the women’s 3,000 at the 2014 World Indoor Track and Field Championships there were 15 women in contention (on paper) for a medal. Now there are 12. What a completely useless first round. A whole round of 3,000’s to eliminate three runners.
Given the pointless nature of these heats, we’re not going to waste your time making you read a blow-by-blow recap of the races as nothing really important happened other than three women who were nowhere near the rest of the field went home (although we should mention one of them was Stony Brook alum and All-American Lucy Van Dalen). Instead, we’re going to give you the results, share some insights we received from the athletes and try to put the final into perspective.
|1||652||Genzebe DIBABA||ETH||8:57.86 Q|
|2||744||Sifan HASSAN||NED||8:58.50 Q|
|3||708||Margherita MAGNANI||ITA||8:58.51 Q|
|4||871||Shannon ROWBURY||USA||8:58.85 Q||SB|
|5||728||Irene JELAGAT||KEN||8:58.97 q|
|6||833||Alia Saeed MOHAMMED||UAE||9:00.35 q|
|8||759||Lucy VAN DALEN||NZL||9:10.20|
|1||623||Maryam Yusuf JAMAL||BRN||8:53.07 Q|
|2||730||Hellen Onsando OBIRI||KEN||8:53.31 Q|
|3||832||Betlhem DESALEGN||UAE||8:53.56 Q|
|4||650||Hiwot AYALEW||ETH||8:53.70 Q|
|5||772||Renata PLIS||POL||8:57.80 q|
|6||856||Gabrielle GRUNEWALD||USA||8:58.10 q|
Quick Thought #1: Genzebe Dibaba winning her heat in 8:57.86 was a complete jog for her. Her WR of 8:16.6 is a full 41-seconds faster. She would really have to blow it to not win in Sunday’s final and she knows it too. Post race she said, “The Kenyan running in the second heat is the one I have to watch out for. My goal is to win. I don’t think I’ll have a hard time taking gold, God willing.” The Kenyan from heat 2 is Hellen Obiri and is our favorite for second place.
QT#2: There was no reason to race it in in this one, yet that’s what the top 4 did. The last two in the first heat were 9:09 and 9:10, so after the first heat you knew as long as you ran faster than 9:09 and weren’t last, you were in the final. Very early on the runner from the Ukraine fell off the pace (she would go on to run 9:25) and making the final was a sure thing as long as you broke 9:09. Yet, the top 4 raced it in, all running 8:53, about 4 seconds faster than Dibaba ran in her heat. It’s definitely not a killer time for them either, but do they need to be doing Dibaba any favors by running harder in the heats than she did?
QT#3: Shannon Rowbury was 4th in her heat, just grabbing the last auto qualifier by outkicking Kenya’s Irene Jelagat. In her post-race interview Rowbury said she wanted to stay as relaxed as possible and just make sure she was in the top 4 or 5 since she knew they were only eliminating three from the first round. Asked about how her training has been going since US Indoor Champs two weeks ago she was very positive and said training has just gotten better and better since she got over her bursitis issue that was bothering her before USAs.
QT#4: Gabe Grunewald post-race said (interview below) she was happy to have moved on to the final as that was all she wanted from today, but realized she’s going to need to be ready to “run faster than she’s ever run” to be in the mix of it. Her outdoor PR is 8:42 and she thinks in the right race she has the fitness to break that time here in Poland.
Talking about strategy for the final, she thinks it’s likely to go out at a decent pace and then get faster and her best opportunity to medal would be to “monitor” herself the first 2K making sure she has something left for the last 1000. She thinks some people will try to go with Dibaba even though they really can’t and hopes that they’ll come back to her at the end if she sits in the middle of the pack and has a long kick the last 1000.
We also touched a bit on the DQ controversy from USAs and asked if she feels any extra pressure to perform at this meet given how much she had to fight to be on this team. She answered, “That did cross my mind. Was none of that worth it if I come here and not run well? But at the same time no matter what happens here, this is still World Championships experience. Had it not gone well it’s still valuable to me to be here and run this race … but absolutely you want to have a good race, especially after everything that went down.”
QT#5: Going into these championships we ranked Grunewald and Rowbury as the two Americans least likely to medal in Sopot (our #1 choice Ajee Wilson didn’t make the 800 final today). We said that we’d have to look at the first round before we reassessed the Americans’ medal chances. And now that the first round is over we’ll say we’re slightly more optimistic, but only barely so. Neither one was completely all-out in their heat, but they weren’t jogging it in either. Rowbury is definitely on the upswing and in great spirits and Grunewald clearly has a great kick so could be a threat if she can be close with 200 to go, but the problem is the rest of the field is very good. Just today, four women ran 8:53 in the heats and Grunewald only has an indoor PB of 8:53 and Rowbury’s fastest time of the season is the 8:58 she ran today. To even be close they’ll need by far the best races of their season.
If the race was going to be extremely slow and tactical like at USAs we’d like their chances better since they both have strong 1500 backgrounds, but based on the first round it doesn’t look like the Africans are going to run that kind of race.