All 3 Americans (Including Sara Vaughn With A PB) and 4 Brits Move On In The Best Opening-Round Women’s 1500 in History

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August 4, 2017

LONDON – There were no major casualties in the first round of the women’s 1500 this evening at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in athletics/track and field as the top 14 seeds all advanced to Saturday’s 24-person semifinal round. Of the 20 fastest people entered in the 1500, just 3 of the top 20 didn’t move on. The casualties were as follows:

#15 Ciara Mageean – Ireland – Last in first heat in 4:10.60.
#18 Linden Hall – Australia – finished 9th in heat #2 in 4:10.51.
#19 Judith Kiyeng – Kenya – 13th in heat #2 in 4:13.65.

It was a good day for the Americans and Brits as all three of the Americans and all four Brits moved on.

For the Americans, Jenny Simpson, who has medalled at 3 of the last 5 global outdoor championships, was an auto qualifier (top 6 and next 6 fastest advanced from the three heats) in heat #2 while Kate Grace and Sara Vaughn moved on as time qualifiers. Vaughn ran a big 2+ second PB of 4:04.56 (previous pb of 4:06.64) to finish 8th in heat #3.

As for the Brits, Laura Weightman, Laura Muir and Jessica Judd all advanced as auto qualifiers with Judd running a 4:03.73 pb (previous pb of 4:05.20). In the last heat, Sarah McDonald advanced as the final time qualifier in a new pb of 4:05.48 (previous pb of 4:05.83).

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Other than who moved on and who didn’t, the major news was that 800 star Caster Semenya looked quite good in running 4:02.84 in heat #1 in her first stab at the 1500 at a global championship. On the flip side, 20-year-old German Konstanze Klosterhalfen, who came in as the #5 seed at 3:59.30, didn’t look good over the final 100 of heat #3 when she faded to a sixth place showing in 4:03.60.

We now list the results of the three heats before sharing with you some analysis and post-race interviews.

Heat 1

1 3841 Genzebe DIBABA ETHETH 4:02.67 Q
2 4209 Caster SEMENYA RSARSA 4:02.84 Q SB
3 4074 Winny CHEBET KENKEN 4:03.19 Q
4 4166 Angelika CICHOCKA POLPOL 4:03.27 Q
5 4108 Rababe ARAFI MARMAR 4:03.67 Q
6 3894 Jessica JUDD GBRGBR 4:03.73 Q PB
7 4335 Kate GRACE USAUSA 4:04.76 q
8 3741 Nicole SIFUENTES CANCAN 4:05.24 q SB
9 3616 Zoe BUCKMAN AUSAUS 4:05.44 q
10 3852 Fantu WORKU ETHETH 4:05.81 PB
11 3828 Marta PÉREZ ESPESP 4:05.82 PB
12 4221 Amela TERZIC SRBSRB 4:08.55
13 4001 Ciara MAGEEAN IRLIRL 4:10.60
400m 1:04.53 Jessica JUDD GBR
800m 2:11.43 Jessica JUDD GBR
1200m 3:14.58 Jessica JUDD GBR
Heat 2
1 4127 Sifan HASSAN NEDNED 4:08.89 Q
2 4370 Jennifer SIMPSON USAUSA 4:08.92 Q
3 3851 Gudaf TSEGAY ETHETH 4:08.96 Q
4 3900 Laura MUIR GBRGBR 4:08.97 Q
5 4107 Malika AKKAOUI MARMAR 4:09.05 Q
6 3939 Hanna KLEIN GERGER 4:09.32 Q
7 4153 Karoline Bjerkeli GRØVDAL NORNOR 4:09.56
8 4190 Marta PEN FREITAS PORPOR 4:10.22
9 3621 Linden HALL AUSAUS 4:10.51
10 4197 Claudia BOBOCEA ROUROU 4:11.20
11 4269 Meryem AKDAG TURTUR 4:12.51
12 3739 Sheila REID CANCAN 4:13.12
13 4084 Judith Jemutai KIYENG KENKEN 4:13.65
14 4276 Esther CHEBET UGAUGA 4:14.12
15 4106 Eliane SAHOLINIRINA MADMAD 4:23.56 SB
400m 1:08.35 Marta PEN FREITAS POR
800m 2:19.17 Jennifer SIMPSON USA
1200m 3:23.25 Gudaf TSEGAY ETHHeat 3
1 4082 Faith Chepngetich KIPYEGON KENKEN 4:03.09 Q
2 4241 Meraf BAHTA SWESWE 4:03.23 Q
3 4168 Sofia ENNAOUI POLPOL 4:03.35 Q SB
4 3920 Laura WEIGHTMAN GBRGBR 4:03.50 Q
5 3847 Besu SADO ETHETH 4:03.55 Q
6 3940 Konstanze KLOSTERHALFEN GERGER 4:03.60 Q
7 3742 Gabriela STAFFORD CANCAN 4:04.55 q PB
8 4377 Sara VAUGHN USAUSA 4:04.56 q PB
9 3899 Sarah MCDONALD GBRGBR 4:05.48 q PB
10 3826 Solange PEREIRA ESPESP 4:06.63
11 3620 Georgia GRIFFITH AUSAUS 4:08.99
12 4014 Margherita MAGNANI ITAITA 4:09.15
13 3777 Muriel CONEO COLCOL 4:11.98 SB
14 4056 Tamara ARMOUSH JORJOR 4:21.81
15 3614 Angelina NADI ARTART 4:33.54 PB
400m 1:06.27 Muriel CONEO COL
800m 2:12.78 Konstanze KLOSTERHALFEN GER
1200m 3:15.96 Konstanze KLOSTERHALFEN GER

Quick Take: These were EASILY the hardest women’s 1500 semifinals to make in the history of the World Champs

The World Championships added a third round to the women’s 1500 in 1995. And from 1995-2015 (1999 and 2005 only had two rounds; all the others had three), the fastest time qualifier in round 1 was 4:05.79. In 2017, the slowest time qualifier in round 1 was 4:05.48. In fact, before 2015, the fastest time qualifier ever in round 1 was 4:08.05. Tonight, three women ran faster than that and won’t even be in the final.

You don’t often see an Ethiopian PR in a distance race and fail to advance to the semifinals — but that’s what happened tonight as Fantu Worku shaved .03 off her best to run 4:05.81 but still didn’t make it through.

Quick Take: Jenny Simpson is ready to roll and feels good about her fitness — “Don’t count me out”

Simpson had a little trouble moving to the outside on the homestretch but she was never in serious trouble.

“I just saw the replay, and it looked scarier than it felt to me. It felt really smooth and really good.”

This field is one of the best ever assembled at a major championship for a women’s 1500, and while there’s been a lot of talk about Kipyegon, Dibaba, Hassan and Semenya, we shouldn’t forget about Simpson, who has medalled at three of the past five global championships. Simpson always relies on coaches Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs to tell her how her fitness compares to previous years and she said that the feedback from them has been good in 2017.

“They’re really good at giving me a lot of confidence and reminding me that I’m always peaked and ready at the right time and I definitely feel that way this year.”

As for the competition? Simpson knows it’s good, but it was basically the same last year in Rio (minus Semenya) and she came away from that meet with a medal.

“We’ve seen it before where you think you can pick the top three and then it really gets jumbled up. So I often do well under those circumstances so I would not count me out.”

Quick Take: Sara Vaughn runs a two-second PR to advance

Vaughn had to rely on a time qualifier on a fast night, but she was pleased about dropping her PR from 4:06.64 to 4:04.56 and moving on to round two.

“I had no idea how fast we were running, so I’m also pleased with a PR,” Vaughn told USATF. “It felt really smooth. I just felt them get away a little bit without 600 meters to go. I didn’t respond maybe as quickly or as well as I should have, but I made it through on time, so it’s OK I guess. After I finished I looked around. There’s nothing like this in the world. It’s so amazing.”

Vaughn has been busy recently. Even though she’s in London to run Worlds, she works a full-time job in real estate and Vaughn said she’s still been working remotely a bit recently — though she has a colleague who has been able to help her out.

Quick Take: Kate Grace knows she needs to run a smarter race tomorrow

Grace got out in the middle of the pack but found herself shuffled to the back of the pack midway through the race. She was able to recover and make it up to the top five at the bell, but she found herself being passed again on the backstretch and when the top six broke away in the home stretch, she was not a part of it. In a race where only the top six advance automatically, that would normally be a problem, but because the pace was so fast up front, Grace still made it through easily on time — in fact, her 4:04.76 was the second-fastest 1500 of her career.

“I don’t think I raced great,” Grace said. “I have to be more aware during the championship rounds of these things. Things just change quickly. I was [thinking], ‘Wait, I was in a fine place and now I’m in last, what just happened?’”

Grace added that she felt “okay, not great” over the final 200 and is hoping she’ll feel better during tomorrow’s semis. Even though she was 7th in the first heat (top 6 were auto qualifiers), she was confident all along she’d get through. Before officially advancing she said, “It was fast. I thought maybe with Caster (Semenya) in there, that people would try to take it out fast, but I didn’t think it would stay pushing that long. Good news is that I’m confident that time will get through. I definitely got pushed hard early, which wasn’t ideal, but there was good energy [from the crowd].”

Grace said she’s excited to see Usain Bolt in the 100-meter final. Bolt’s race is two hours’ after Grace’s so there should be plenty of time for her to get back in the stands for it, though she joked she’d “go rogue” if she had to in order to watch it.

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