Jenny Simpson Pulls Away Over Final 50 Meters For Her Second Career Diamond League Victory

August 21, 2014

Jenny Simpson didn’t get the American record, but we doubt she cares much about that right now as she ran a tactically-perfect race to get her second career Diamond League win in 4:00.38 at the DN Galan IAAF Diamond League track and field meeting in Stockholm on Thursday.

Coming in, the Netherlands’ Euro champ/world leader Sifan Hassan had looked unbeatable, but in the end it was Simpson and Genzebe Dibaba battling it out for the win, with Simpson ultimately prevailing as Dibaba faded after setting a very ambitious early pace. Simpson looked very strong over the final 50 meters of the race.

The Race

Simpson looked strong as she pulled away for the win Simpson looked strong as she pulled away for the win

Dibaba, who had run a 3:55.17 world record indoors in her lone 1500 of the year, was clearly anxious to make her season debut at 1500 outdoors and couldn’t wait to push the pace.

The rabbit was supposed to hit splits of 62-63 for 400 and 2:05 for 800, but when she fell a little behind pace just before 700 meters, Dibaba surged by her and had a lead of about 8 meters as she passed 800 in 2:05.95. Hassan and Simpson had initially been up near the front when the rabbit came through 400 in 62.14 (64 is 4:00 pace), but they both recognized that pace was unsustainable and slowed down as Dibaba continued to press up front.

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Simpson moved up into third behind Hassan with 500 to go, but as they took the bell Dibaba’s lead was still about 7 meters over Hassan and Simpson. Americans Brenda Martinez and Shannon Rowbury were also running well at that point in fourth and fifth with local favorite and defending world champ Abeba Aregawi rapidly moving backwards.

Dibaba slowed to 65.21 for her third 400 and her aggressive running early was clearly taking a toll as Hassan and Simpson began to reel in Dibaba on the back-stretch. As they entered the final turn, Hassan was within a stride of the leader, with Simpson a few meters back. With 100 to go, Dibaba had a step on Hassan, who in turn had a step on Simpson, but the three were pretty much level running three abreast with 75 meters to go. All three were sprinting and surprisingly it was Hassan who broke first, as Dibaba and Simpson gapped her by a few meters. Dibaba bravely tried to hold on but Simpson had too much and powered away for the win in 4:00.38, with a final lap of 63.6.

Results and quick takes below. Discuss this race in our fan forum: MB: Wow: What a 1500!!!! Jenny Simpson wins it in Stockholm!!!

Video of final 200m for US visitors:

1500 Metres – Women – Pts
1 Simpson , Jennifer USA 4:00.38
2 Dibaba , Genzebe ETH 4:01.00
3 Hassan , Sifan NED 4:01.62
4 Rowbury , Shannon USA 4:02.96
5 Kibiwot , Viola Jelagat KEN 4:04.17
6 Muir , Laura GBR 4:04.71
7 Bahta , Meraf SWE 4:05.39
8 Martinez , Brenda USA 4:07.40
9 Plis , Renata POL 4:07.72
10 Aregawi , Abeba SWE 4:07.75
11 Embaye , Axumawit ETH 4:08.30
12 Tsegay , Gudaf ETH 4:08.34
13 Måkestad Bovim , Ingvill NOR 4:10.97
14 Weightman , Laura GBR 4:14.92
Intermediate times:
400m TVERDOSTUP, Tamara (UKR) 1:02.14
800m DIBABA, Genzebe (ETH) 2:05.95
1200m DIBABA, Genzebe (ETH) 3:11.16

Quick Take #1: This was a vintage Simpson performance. Have you heard the story about the tortoise beating the hare? Well that was the case today.

Due to her strength and steeple background, Simpson is extremely dangerous over the final 50 meters of a race as she pulled away for gold over the final 50 at Worlds in 2011 and almost caught Aregawi over the final 50 in Moscow last year. This wasn’t a slow race but the final time wasn’t blazing and Simpson’s strength at the end of the race once again allowed her to prevail. Hassan was tying up badly toward the end and Dibaba was struggling to hold on while Simpson looked great, opening up her stride and pumping her arms to claim the victory.

Simpson has gotten a lot better in fast races this season but she needed the pace to be a little slower for her to get DL win #1 of 2014 (and #2 of her career after Monaco last year).

Simpson won because of superior tactics. Tactically, she ran very smart as she slowed down when it was clear she had gone out too fast and gradually worked her way into position at the end of the race. She didn’t waste energy unnecessarily and that meant that she had something left in the tank for the final stretch.

She didn’t win by picking it up and out kicking the field. She won by running even and just outlasting them.

Here are Simpson’s splits.

63.2, 65.1, 64.2, 47.9 (that’s 63.9 pace for the final 300).

Her final 200 was 31.7-8. Dibaba and Hassan were just slowing down.

Dibaba had a big lead at the bell Dibaba had a big lead at the bell

Quick Take #2: Dibaba looked like she wanted to run 3:55 again.

Dibaba set an indoor world record of 3:55.17 in February and she clearly wanted the pace to go quickly in this one. It took the rabbit until halfway through the first turn to get to the lead because Dibaba went out so hard and she didn’t last that long anyway because Dibaba had already moved past her by the time they hit 700 meters. The strategy almost worked as Hassan looked very tired in the home stretch, but as Simpson said leading up to the race, the women’s 1500 is deep right now and that meant that there was more than one runner to run down Dibaba at the end.

The problem with going out in 2:05.95 (3:56 pace) is that it’s very difficult to hold that pace, especially running alone. Dibaba was slowing down a lot at the end, and she ran her final 400 in 66.02 seconds. That is nowhere near fast enough to win a DL 1500, even if you do have a big lead at the bell.

Still, this was an encouraging result for Dibaba. We said in our preview that it may make sense for her to switch to the 1500 from the 3k/5k if she ran well in Stockholm and though her tactics might need some work, she ran well enough today that it still makes sense to think about the 1500, even if she is still the world leader at 5000 this year. 14:28 fitness won’t necessarily win gold in the 5000, 3:55 fitness will win gold in the 1500.

We’d urge her to run the 1500 in Zürich and try to run in the pack so she can see if she can kick with the other 1500 runners. We know that Dibaba likes to push the pace, but you can’t always do that in the 1500, especially if you want to win a medal at a major championship. Dibaba needs more experience in every type of race to figure out what event to focus on. If she’s patient, her 3k/5k strength could mean she’s less tired in the final straight when the kicking really gets going.

As Simpson showed today, people often aren’t necessarily kicking it in at the end. They are just holding on.

Simpson relished the victory afterwards Simpson relished the victory afterwards

Quick Take #3: The Diamond Race is a three-horse race.

There’s one 1500 left on the DL schedule — next week in Zürich — and right now Hassan, Aregawi and Simpson all have a shot to win it. Aregawi leads with 12 points, with Hassan second (10) and Simpson third (9) but it’s 8 points for a win in Zürich and 4 for second, meaning that all three control their destiny at the DL finale. Aregawi has been trending in the wrong direction (she was 10th in the Paris DL meet and 10th again today, though she was 2nd in the Glasgow DL and at Euros) so likely the title will come down to Simpson and Hassan.

Quick Take #4: The narratives remain the same for Shannon Rowbury and Brenda Martinez.

Rowbury has enjoyed a renaissance at age 29, setting 1500 and 5k PRs, coming within a hair of winning the U.S. title at 5k and running well on the circuit. She had another strong run tonight as she was 4th and there’s no shame in losing to studs like Hassan, Dibaba and Simpson.

Martinez, meanwhile, has struggled after running so well at the World Relays back in May and that continued today with a 4:07.40, eighth-place showing.

Quick Take #5: Laura Weightman might need a break.

Weightman took silver at the Commonwealth Games and bronze at Euros six days ago but was dead last today in 4:14.92. Running — and running well — at two championship meets in quick succession is a difficult task and Weightman clearly felt the effects of all that racing today.

Discuss this race in our fan forum: MB: Wow: What a 1500!!!! Jenny Simpson wins it in Stockholm!!!

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