After Historic Women’s 1500 Semis, Everything Is Set Up For An Incredible Final

October 3, 2019

DOHA, Qatar — The women’s 1500 final for the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships is set for Saturday and all of the big names will be there as all 10 of the women who started today’s two semifinals having broken 4:00 on the year moved on to the final.

In the tactical first heat, 10,000 winner Sifan Hassan ran much of the race in the back but she looked great in moving up and winning in 4:14.69. The only real drama coming out of heat one was which of six women sprinting in the lead pack coming down the homestretch would miss out on the final (5 auto qualifiers + 2 time qualifiers) and that answer was Britain’s Sarah McDonald as the British champ and 4:00.46 performer from earlier in the year ended up sixth in 4:15.73.

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With the first heat going so slow, it quickly became clear that the two time qualifiers would come from the second heat. In the end, the 2nd heat was historically fast. American Jenny Simpson won it in 4:00.99 — the fastest semi time ever at Worlds — and more history was made when 2018 NCAA champ and new Nike Oregon Project runner Jessica Hull of Australia crossed the line in 8th in a personal best of 4:01.80 (previous pb of 4:02.62). That’s easily the fastest non-qualifying time in World Championship or Olympic 1500 history. The previous fastest time not to make a World Championship final was 4:05.36 with the fastest non-qualifier in the Olympics being 4:03.20 according to Ken Nakamura.

The person who finished just ahead of Hull in 7th in heat #1 was American Nikki Hiltz, as she lowered her pb from 4:03.55 to 4:01.52 to grab the final qualifying spot in the final. All three Americans will be in the final as US champ Shelby Houlihan looked great in finishing 2nd in heat #1

Here is how all 24 entrants did today. *Heat by heat results

Seed Name Contry PB SB Results
1 Sifan HASSAN NED 3:55.30 3:55.30 Q – Won heat 1 (4:14.69)
2 Laura MUIR GBR 3:55.22 3:56.73 Q – 3rd heat 2 (4:01.05)
3 Gudaf TSEGAY ETH 3:57.40 3:57.40 Q – 4th heat 2 (4:01.12)
4 Rababe ARAFI MAR 3:58.84 3:58.84 Q – 3rd heat 1 (4:14.94)
5 Faith KIPYEGON KEN 3:56.41 3:59.04 Q – 4th heat 2 (4:14.98)
6 Winnie NANYONDO UGA 3:59.56 3:59.56 q – 6th heat 1 (4:01.30)
7 Gabriela DEBUES-STAFFORD CAN 3:59.59 3:59.59 Q – 2nd heat 2 (4:01.04)
8 Shelby HOULIHAN USA 3:57.34 3:59.64 Q – 2nd heat 1 (4:14.91)
9 Jenny SIMPSON USA 3:57.22 3:59.83 Q – Won heat 1 (4:00.99)
10 Winny CHEBET KEN 3:59.16 3:59.93 q – 6th in heat 2 (4:01.30)
11 Sarah MCDONALD GBR 4:00.46 4:00.46 DNQ – 6th heat 1 (4:15.73)
12 Ciara MAGEEAN IRL 4:01.21 4:01.21 Q – 5th heat 1 (4:15.49)
13 Claudia Mihaela BOBOCEA ROU 4:02.27 4:02.27 DNQ – last heat 1 (4:18.25)
14 Jessica HULL AUS 4:02.62 4:02.62 DNQ – 8th heat 2 (4:01.80 pb)
15 Lemlem HAILU ETH 4:02.97 4:02.97 DNQ – 7th heat 1 (4:16.56)
16 Nikki HILTZ USA 4:03.55 4:03.55 q – 7th heat 1 (4:01.52 pb)
17 Darya BARYSEVICH BLR 4:03.58 4:03.58 DNQ – 9th heat 1 (4:17.04)
18 Linden HALL AUS 4:00.86 4:04.22 DNQ – 10th heat 1 (4:06.39)
19 Yolanda NGARAMBE SWE 4:05.18 4:05.18 DNQ – 9th heat 2 (4:03.43 pb)
20 Georgia GRIFFITH AUS 4:04.17 4:05.39 DNQ – 10th heat 1 (4:17.15)
21 Esther GUERRERO ESP 4:05.70 4:05.70 DNQ – 8th heat 1 (4:16.66)
22 Marta PÉREZ ESP 4:04.88 4:05.85 DNQ – 11th heat 2 (4:10.45)
23 Kristiina MÄKI CZE 4:06.61 4:06.61 DNQ – 11th heat 1 (4:17.65
24 Malika AKKAOUI MAR 4:03.36 4:06.93 DNQ – last heat 2 (4:16.83)

Quick Take: This final should be incredible

The last World Championship final was one of the great races of the 2017 Worlds in London and the stage is set for a fitting encore in Doha. Aside from bronze medalist Caster Semenya, the major players from two years ago (Kipyegon, Hassan, Muir, Simpson) are all back in fine form. Add in Houlihan and there are going to be a few studs going home from these championships empty-handed. We can’t wait to watch this race.

Quick Take: Shelby Houlihan will need to time her kick perfectly in the final

The women’s 1500 has been one of the most competitive events on the circuit the last few years, so the competition for a medal will be fierce. Shelby Houlihan, undoubtedly, belongs in that conversation, but knows that against women like Hassan and reigning champ Faith Kipyegon — both of whom were in her semi tonight — she can’t afford to make any mistakes.

Almost every woman in this field will back their own kick — it’s the 1500, after all — and Houlihan said that, in the past, she may have waited too long to deploy hers, citing last year’s Diamond League final and this year’s Pre Classic. That’s one mistake she cannot afford to make if she is to accomplish her biggest goal in Saturday’s final: a gold medal.

Quick Take: Kipyegon will need to run less ground than she did today

After this one was over, we went back and watched it again on tape as it felt to us like Kipyegon ran the entire race in lane 2. Almost. She ran every single turn save for the first turn – when she was on the outside of lane 1 – in lane 2. Running wide and making sure you don’t get boxed in or tripped is a fine strategy for a semifinal if you are a stud like Kipyegon. But there is no way Kipyegon or any woman can win gold in the final if they run the entire race in lane 2 – that would be more than 25 meters of extra running.

Quick Take: Don’t look now, but Jenny Simpson is timing her peak perfectly again

Simpson ran 4:00.99 today, the fastest ever semifinal time at Worlds (h/t Steven Mills) and Simpson was pumped with the time. She didn’t look at the clock after Gudaf Tsegay took the lead of her semi, so when she saw the time at the finish, it was confirmation that she is very fit.

“I was really pleased to look up and see how fast it was,” Simpson said.

How fit, exactly?

“I feel like I’m in as good of shape as I’ve ever been,” Simpson said.

Coming from a woman who has four global medals, that’s scary to hear.

Quick Take: What a week — and what a year — for Nikki Hiltz

2019 has been a dream season for Nikki Hiltz, so it’s only fitting that she gets to conclude it in the World Championship final. Hiltz began the year with a 4:09 pb and has since lowered it four times, most recently her 4:01.52 tonight to make the final at her first Worlds. She almost PR’d yesterday as well (she ran 4:04.00 after entering the meet with a best of 4:03.55) and said that her goal for the final is to finish in the top six. Against this field, that would be some accomplishment, but who would bet against Hiltz the way this year has gone?

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