August 26, 2015
BEIJING — The morning action on day five of the 2015 IAAF World Championships included two mid-d/distance races, and there’s no doubt the American men’s 5,000 runners had a much easier go of it than their counterparts in the women’s 800.
All three American men — Ben True, Ryan Hill and Galen Rupp — advanced to Saturday’s final. True moved up comfortably over the final 100 meters of heat 1 to grab the second of five auto spots in 13:45.05 in the tight, tactical race (.55 of a second separated first and non-qualifying sixth). With five time qualifiers well within reach, the second heat went much faster (reigning silver medalist Hagos Gebrhiwet won heat 1 in 13:45.00), as Isiah Koech and Galen Rupp helped push the pace. Hill kicked in trying to finish in the top five automatic spots, but finished sixth in 13:19.67 while Rupp, seeing that he had a top-10 finish locked up, cruised in the last 100 to take eighth in 13:20.78.
It was a different story in the women’s 800. Molly Ludlow was only sixth in heat 1 and had to sweat it out, making it in as the final time qualifier at 2:00.70. Brenda Martinez nabbed an auto spot in heat 3, but she was boxed in for much of the second lap and had to maneuver carefully in the home stretch to earn the final auto spot by .08. The third American, U.S. champ Alysia Montaño, is out after getting clipped and going down with 200 to go in heat 5. USATF protested to get Montaño through to the semis, but that was denied. They appealed that decision, and that was also denied, meaning Montaño will be headed home.
Women’s 800 results, analysis and interviews below, followed by men’s 5,000 results, analysis and interviews.
Quick Thought #1: What a disaster for Montaño
After watching Montaño be sent sprawling to the track, it’s hard not to think, “Maybe it’s not meant to be for Montaño at a global championship.” What sympathy we have for her.
At the last two Worlds, she’s finished in the most agonizing of all spots – 4th. At the 2012 Olympics, she was 5th but one could argue she really deserved the gold medal as everyone ahead of her is either a doper or intersex. Now this.
Montaño was somewhat upbeat when she came through the mixed zone, hoping she’d be placed into the semis on appeal.
“I don’t know what happened. It’s a real bummer as that was an incredibly easy pace. I don’t feel like there isn’t any reason why I shouldn’t be in the next round so I’ve got figure that out again,” said Montaño, who only spoke briefly as she wanted to see race replays of what happened.
We have a Vine of it:
Alysia Montano Fall https://t.co/5uzlde6crq
— LetsRun.com (@letsrundotcom) August 26, 2015
Quick Thought #2: Caster Semenya Said She’s Here To Race, Not Talk About Personal Issues
LetsRun.com helped break the Semenya story to the world at the World Champs in 2009 as we were one of the few media outlets in the world to interview her before she became a household name in the final. Our video interview of Semenya was on Good Morning America and has amassed nearly one million views. The media was well aware of Semenya’s story this time in the first round but she didn’t want to talk about the recent Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to suspend the IAAF’s hyperandrogenism policy. She said she was simply here to race.
Race she did, as she lowered her seasonal best by more than a second, from 2:00.72 to 1:59.59, to move up late and nab the final auto qualifying spot in the first heat. Casual fans may not have been impressed by Semenya’s run as she was in danger of not taking the final auto spot in her heat until the line. However, if you have analyzed the results like we have, you realize that Semenya put up the third-fastest time on the day.
The fourth placer in heat 1 – Natalia Lupu – actually ran faster than every heat winner all six of the other heat winners. Heat 1 was stacked and it was won by 2014 European champ Marina Arzamsova of Belarus in 1:58.69 with Britain’s 2012 European champ Lynsey Sharp second in 1:58.98.
Quick Thought #3: Expect Better from Brenda Martinez in the Next Two Rounds
Martinez found herself boxed in and had to fight for position in the home stretch to grab an auto spot, but the good news is she said she wasn’t even tired when she finished and expects to do much better in tomorrow’s semis.
She also revealed she had been dealing with some peroneal and hip issues prior to USAs but she’s been healthy ever since.
Quick Thought #4: Molly Ludlow Made No Excuses For Her Run, but Gets to Fight Another Day
When we spoke to Ludlow, the heats were still going and it was unknown whether she would make the final. Ludlow had no explanation for her run, saying she did not feel good throughout.
If she advanced, she was hopeful she could do better in the semis as she acknowledged she is fit. We spoke to her about her 1:57 time trial before Worlds and she downplayed it, noting it is easier than a race with a running start and no competitors in the way and a pacer.
Ludlow didn’t know if nerves got to her running in her first World Championship. She was put onto the team when USA #1 Ajee Wilson pulled out with injury. Ludlow said she knew Ajee had a possible injury but had heard Ajee was 90% likely to run Worlds. When Ajee pulled out, the opportunity opened up for Molly and now she’ll get a second chance to show her fitness (she’s broken 2:00 six times this year, including a 1:58.68 pr).
Quick Thought #5: Eunice Sum Is Pressure-Free at Worlds
Sum, the 2013 champ, hasn’t lost all year and doesn’t feel any pressure to defend her title. When we asked her if she was worried by Sifan Hassan doubling back from the 1500 (Hassan split 1:57.6 in the 1500 final last night), she was not concerned.
“I think this is sports, and if every day you win, it’s not a sport,” Sum said. “Anybody who wins, I will be happy and anyone who runs PB, I will be happy.”
Sum also got a chance to watch the race and was impressed by Genzebe Dibaba’s close.
“I was like, ‘Wow, I think she can really do the 800.’”
Quit Thought: #6 From 2:07 To The WC Semis in One Year – It’s Been Quite A Year for Canada’s Fiona Benson
It’s been an amazing year for the 23-year-old Canadian and she’s still feeling good and as if her season has been short. Even better for Benson is the fact she hasn’t signed a pro contract and the bidders can start lining up as 2016 is an Olympic year.
Men’s 5,000 Thoughts: Ben True Feels Confident, Ryan Hill Doesn’t and We Don’t Know About Galen Rupp
|1||467||Yomif KEJELCHA||ETH||13:19.38 Q|
|2||516||Mohamed FARAH||GBR||13:19.44 Q|
|3||300||Mohammed AHMED||CAN||13:19.58 Q||SB|
|4||698||Caleb Mwangangi NDIKU||KEN||13:19.58 Q||SB|
|5||289||Albert Kibichii ROP||BRN||13:19.61 Q|
|6||1025||Ryan HILL||USA||13:19.67 q|
|7||564||Richard RINGER||GER||13:19.84 q|
|8||1055||Galen RUPP||USA||13:20.78 q|
|9||960||Ali KAYA||TUR||13:21.46 q|
|10||694||Isiah Kiplangat KOECH||KEN||13:23.51 q|
|19||902||Suleiman ABDILLE BORAI||SOM||15:26.65||PB|
Quick Thought #1: Ben True: “The amount of times I’ve broken 60 in a quarter you can probably count on one hand.”
True said that today was the tough day for him as he just wanted to make it through to the final.
“Today’s always the most stressful one because there’s nothing to win but a lot to lose,” True said. “Saturday’s just all icing on the cake, kind of go for broke and don’t worry about anything else.”
His goal coming in was to expend as little energy as possible and it couldn’t have gone better for him as he moved up into position to move with 600 to go and said he felt great with 200 to go when the kicking really started. True closed extremely well the last 100 and was looking around as he neared the finish line, showing he had a lot more in the tank.
True reaffirmed that he likes his chances for a medal if he’s still there with 600 to go in the final and revealed that his kick, which is the best it’s ever been right now, comes from the strength work he’s been putting in rather than hitting a lot of hard repeat quarters.
Quick Thought #2: Ryan Hill Was Discouraged by Crossing the Line 6th in his Heat
In our preview, we mentioned Hill’s terrific top-end speed, but it wasn’t present today quite to the degree that Hill wanted it.
“Coming off the turn, I thought I was going to power down and get top five or top three in that heat, which would have been a good confidence builder, but they’ve got wheels,” Hill said. “The rest of the guys in that heat have got serious wheels over the last 100.”
Hill also explained his decision not to race between USAs and Worlds, saying that he wanted a good 30-day block at altitude and that there wasn’t a good race that would have fit his schedule. He wasn’t worried about his preparation however, noting workouts with his coach Jerry Schumacher “are kind of like race day” themselves.
Hill closed by saying that he’s definitely hoping for a slow race in the final, which makes sense considering his victories in tactical races at USA indoors and outdoors this year.
We tried to catch up with the final American, but Galen Rupp chose not to speak when he passed us in the mixed zone, but he did say to USATF, “I just wanted to get through as easy as possible. That’s the thing you want to do in these prelims to qualify. I think everyone kept the race honest, watching the first hurt. I just tried to run as even as possible.”
Quick Thought #3: Mo Farah: “It’s never easy”
Farah lost his balance with 150 to go in his prelim but managed to stay on his feet and qualify comfortably. He said with his long stride, it’s easy for him to get caught up in contact so he has to work on staying in a good position out of trouble.
Farah said that he knows Saturday’s final will be tough as “it’s never easy” to win gold despite how easy he has made it look recently.
He also said that coming back from the 10k last week has been tougher than in years past.
“It’s definitely more tough because I’ve run a little bit faster than in any other championships…it’s hard [with] the humidity as well,” said Farah.
Farah’s plan now was to get an ice bath and hang out in the room for a few days playing PlayStation.
Audio interview with Farah:
Quick Thought #4: Caleb Ndiku Said All The Right Things But We Think He’s Facing An Uphill Battle Given His Injury Woes in 2015
Ndiku got a late start to the season due to an injury problem and didn’t open up his season until Lausanne on July 9. There he got clipped and went down and injured his foot. He was able to race and win the Monaco 3k on July 17 in a world #2 7:35.14, but Ndiku revealed today that the injury to his foot in Lausanne prevented him from training for two weeks, he could only do stuff in the gym.
“For now, I don’t want to promise anything but all I know is my body is responding positively,” said Ndiku. “I believe I’m in good shape, yeah.”
When asked if he’d be able to find a 52-second final lap to be able to slay Farah, Ndiku said the following, “I know I’ve trained well. Everything is ok – speed and endurance-wise. But what I know is this year I haven’t done many races so I have not yet tried to do the last 400 as fast as I used to do last year, but I know I’m in good shape. If things go well, then I can give a 52 [on the last 400].”
Quick Thought #5: Was Isiah Koech taking it easy (9th in heat #2 when 10 qualified) or is he off his game?
We don’t know as Koech didn’t stop in the mixed zone to speak to the media. We blurted out a few questions as he squirted by and he simply gave us a thumbs up. We asked the Kenyan Trials winner and 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Edwin Soi about Koech’s low placing and he said he thought Koech was still adjusting to being in Beijing as he said they only got here two days ago.
That’s possible, but a more likely scenario is that Koech isn’t in great shape. Check out how far the top 4 were spread out at the Kenyan Trials.
Kenyan Trials 5,000 final (August 1)
1 Edwin Soi 13:30.83
2 Emmanuel Kipsang 13:33.84
3 Isiah Koech 13:41.19
4 Thomas Longosiwa 13:52.91
Considering that the Trials runner-up Kipsang didn’t advance out of heat #1, it’s not looking good for Koech. Koech, the 8th-fastest man in history at 5000 at 12:48.64, seems unlikely to be a factor.
Given Ndiku’s missed training time, Farah’s biggest challenges likely will come from the Ethiopians. We spoke to Hagos Gebrhiwet off-camera and he told us he had been dealing with an ankle injury after the Rome DL meet on June 4, causing him to miss a week of training but that he feels good now. Winning heat 1 in comfortable fashion was certainly a good sign for the reigning silver medalist.
QT #6 Mo Ahmed Makes Final
Ahmed, the former University of Wisconsin star, crossed the line fifth in heat 2 but was then disqualified for the near-fall of Mo Farah. He later was reinstated and will get to run the final.
When Farah was asked about the near-fall by the British press, he was nonplussed by it. “I don’t blame anyone,” said Farah who said he’s got a big back kick and added that he sometimes gets clipped even in practice.
Quick Thought #7: Tom Farrell Was Very Pleased to Make the Final at Worlds for the First Time
Farrell joined Mark Rowland’s Oregon Track Club this year and his 2015 season couldn’t have gone better as he PR’d in the 5,000 for the first time in three years (13:10.48) and has now made the final in his first World Championships appearance.
“It’s been a great transition,” Farrell said. “Didn’t really expect things to go this well in year one just because of a new coach, new system, new settle, the whole package. I knew it was going to be great, didn’t know it was going to be this amazing this year.
Quick Thought #8: Cam Levins Learned Not To Push Too Hard This Year
Levins has had some brilliant performances this year, particularly his Canadian 10,000 record (27:07) at Pre in May, but he’s struggled the last few months, finishing just 5th in the 5,000 at Pan Ams, taking 14th in the 10,000 at Worlds and now missing out on the 5,000 final.
“I don’t think I was really fit anymore at this point,” Levins said, shrugging. He said he fell at Canadian nationals on the first weekend of July, which led to a “pretty major” rib injury. Just as that healed, he developed an ankle problem, which still bothered him today (he ran with it taped during the race).
Levins said that he made a mistake by ignoring his injury at first and that in the future he has to balance his ambition with staying healthy.
“Really, I’m the one at fault for letting myself get hurt. I was so ambitious and trying to do the best I could. I didn’t want to take a break and look what it did to me. Hopefully that’s a lesson for everybody else. It’s a lesson for me certainly.”
On a brighter note, Levins said he’s looking forward to Eric Jenkins joining the Nike Oregon Project because it will give him another talented training partner to work with. Levins said that often the NOP members are spread out around the world or on different training schedules so he’ll benefit from having Jenkins around.