Women’s 1500 Prelims: The Big Names and All Three Americans Cruise To The Final

By LetsRun.com
October 2, 2019

DOHA, Qatar —  There are no shortage of talented women in the 1500 meters in the year 2019, but it has been rare to see them all together. Sifan Hassan has experimented with longer distances, Shelby Houlihan was banged up earlier in the year (and, since Worlds, holed up at altitude), and Laura Muir and Faith Kipyegon have been injured. Though world record holder Genzebe Dibaba wasn’t here tonight for the first round of the women’s 1500 at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships, the other four were, and it felt a bit like getting the band back together as 2019 Worlds is the first time all year they’ll be in the same race (presumably they all make the final).

As expected, all four of the big names cruised through the generous first round of qualifying (35 women were trimmed to 24, with the top six in each heat and the next six fastest times advancing), as did the other two Americans, Jenny Simpson and Nikki Hiltz.

After winning heat #3, Simpson unloaded on banned Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar which gets its own article here: LRC Jenny Simpson Unloads on Alberto Salazar: “Get Him Out. I’m A Believer In Lifetime Bans. I Wish It Was Longer. Don’t Cheat.”

We also have a separate article on Hiltz, who almost had to run a PR to advance (4:04.00) to the semis: LRC Nikki Hiltz Talks About What it’s Like to Be Herself (Gay) in Qatar after advancing to 1500 Semis at World.

The only significant casualties in terms of seeds was Ethiopia’s Axumawit Embaye, the 5th seed based on 2019 seasonal bests, who was eliminated after finishing 9th in heat #3 (4:08.56). Her showing wasn’t a total shock as she’s shown poor form in recent races, finishing 8th in mile Birmingham and then next to last in the Diamond League final.Here are the 11 women that were eliminated today.

Seed Name Country SB Results
5 Axumawit EMBAYE ETH 3:59.02 DNQ – 9th in heat #3 (4:08.56).
14 Jemma REEKIE GBR 4:02.09 DNQ – 10th in heat #2 (4:12.51).
17 EstherCHEBET UGA 4:02.90 DNQ – 10th in heat #3 (4:08.89).
24 Caterina GRANZ GER 4:05.60 DNQ – 9th in heat #2 (4:12.36)
27 Aisha PRAUGHT-LEER JAM 4:06.11 DNQ – 7th in heat 2 (4:09.81)
28 Maruša MIŠMAŠ SLO 4:06.64 DNQ – 11th in heat 2 (4:14.94).
31 Sara KUIVISTO FIN 4:09.25 DNQ – last in heat #1 but ran PB of 4:08.85
32 María Pía FERNÁNDEZ URU 4:10.93 DNQ – 11th in heat #3 (4:09.45 NR).
33 Palakeezh UNNIKRISHNAN CHITRA IND 4:12.65 DNQ – 8th in heat #2 (4:11.10 pb)
34 CarlaMENDES CPV 4:16.06 DNQ  -12th in heat #2 (4:23.56)
35 NeideDIAS ANG 4:17.35 DNQ – 12th in heat #3 (4:28.27)


Quick Take: Hassan didn’t talk to media after the race today, but did release a statement

Hassan advanced with ease but did not talk to media today; this was her first race since her coach Alberto Salazar was handed a four-year ban yesterday. She did, however, release a statement prior to today’s competition:

I am shocked to receive the news of today’s ruling, especially during this time in which I am fully preparing for my next race in the world championships in Doha. I like to state that this investigation is focused on the period before I joined the Oregon Project and therefore has no relation to me. I was aware of the ongoing investigations when I joined the team and have always had a clean conscience knowing we are being monitored to the absolute fullest by USADA and WADA. I will focus all my energy on my next race and my performance in the 1500m. A race that I have worked hard to prepare for and am very excited to race in hopes of winning my second world title.

In addition, Royal Dutch Athletics Federation spokesperson, High Performance Director Ad Roskam said: “Sifan’s full medical treatment and supplementation was, is and will be conducted by our own Medical staff from day one as agreed with the Oregon Project Staff. Based on Sifan’s talent, hard work, performance profile and the rigorous controle [sic] mechanisms under WADA Doping Code we have full confidence in Sifan’s performances and integrity as an athlete. As of today, October 1, the coaching of Sifan Hassan during this world championships is taken over by our Head Coach Charles van Commenée”.

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One more thing about Hassan: we’re glad she’s running the 1500 and not the 5,000. Whether that had anything to do with Salazar’s suspension (Hassan wanted to do the 1500 while Salazar wanted her to do the 5,000) is unclear, but it’s far more exciting to see her try an unusual double against a more competitive field rather than racing the same women she beat in the 10k.

Quick Take: Shelby Houlihan shakes off the rust, says “I want gold, baby!”

Today was Shelby Houlihan’s first race in 66 days, since she won the US 5k title on July 28. She was excited that, after over two months of nothing but workouts, she could finally go out and race — even if she was holding back a bit, knowing that the semis and final await over the next three days.

“I have been itching to get out there and race,” Houlihan said. “It definitely felt like I was getting the rust off a little bit, which is fine. I knew that was kind of how it would feel.”

Houlihan wanted to expend as little energy as possible to qualify, and she did just that, only moving up into a top-six spot over the final 150 but ultimately cruising through to the semis.

Houlihan, like the other Bowerman TC athletes competing in Doha, went all-in on Worlds by not racing on the DL circuit after USAs, but Houlihan doesn’t doubt coach Jerry Schumacher’s approach.

“I know that whatever he gives me is what he thinks is the best schedule,” Houlihan said. “So I just trust him.”

Houlihan has never medalled at Worlds in any distance, indoors or out — the only woman of the “Big Four” of which that is true. She said she is much fitter than she was two months ago at USAs, and while she’d be happy with any medal, she has her sights set on the top of the podium.

“I want gold, baby!” Houlihan said with a smile.

Quick Take: Faith Kipyegon admits it’s been a struggle in 2019, but she’s here when it matters most

Kipyegon hasn’t raced much since giving birth to her daughter Alyn in June 2018 — today’s 1500m prelim was just her third race in the last two years. But when Kipyegon has shown up to the line, she’s looked good — she earned wins at the Pre Classic in June and the Kenyan trials in September — and today was no exception. Kipyegon knows Hassan will be tough to beat (she also mentioned Muir and Simpson as threats) but Kipyegon’s medal record — silver, gold, gold at the last three global champs — is incredible. If she is back to full fitness, or something to it, she’s the best bet to take down Hassan.

Quick Take: Aisha Praught-Leer goes home

Praught-Leer made the Olympic and World Championship finals in the steeplechase and won the Commonwealth Games title last year, but after hanging with speed-oriented Kaela Edwards and Cory McGee in workouts earlier this year, she felt her skillset was more suited to the 1500 and decided to focus on that event in 2019. Maybe, after being eliminated in the first round today, she will reconsider going forward.

Regarding the Alberto Salazar suspension that was handed down yesterday, Praught-Leer said that it was a “celebratory day” but that she’s still waiting for more to come out.

“The facts are out there,” Praught-Leer said. “The ban tells a story, and I’d really like to see what happens after this. But I think it’s real vindication for people who used their voice the right way.

“…He wasn’t out there doing this to himself. Where are the repercussions for the people who were doing this? We look at the facts and we wait for more to come out. But yesterday was kind of a celebratory day of like, you know what? Heck yeah! Justice has been served.”

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