2022 World Indoors Women’s Preview: Keely Hodgkinson and Gudaf Tsegay Look to Dominate + Who Wins The Loaded Women’s 3000?

By Robert Johnson
March 16, 2022

The 2022 World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, are almost here. We’ll have boots on the ground providing you coverage.

The meet starts Friday and runs through Sunday. Each night around 6 p.m. ET (time subject to change), we’ll be doing a live post-meet reaction video show from Serbia. We know catching things live can be difficult, so sign up for our Supporters Club so you can listen to our analysis as a podcast during your morning run/commute.

Below we preview the women’s mid-d and distance action for you. Our men’s mid-d/distance preview is here.

*Schedule *TV Info

Previous coverage:

Women’s 800: Keely Hodgkinson goes for her first global gold


1st name Last name Country PB SB
Keely HODGKINSON GBR 01:57.20 01:57.20
Natoya GOULE JAM 01:58.46 01:58.46
Halimah NAKAAYI UGA 01:58.58 01:58.58
Catriona BISSET AUS 01:59.46 01:59.46
Madeleine KELLY CAN 02:00.11 02:00.11
Tigist GIRMA ETH 02:00.19 02:00.19
Eglay Nafuna NALYANYA KEN 02:00.26 02:00.26
Olivia BAKER USA 02:00.33 02:00.33
Angelika CICHOCKA POL 02:00.37 02:00.53
Naomi KORIR KEN 02:00.66 02:00.66
Jenny SELMAN GBR 02:00.70 02:00.70
Lorena MARTÍN ESP 02:01.34 02:01.34
Isabelle BOFFEY GBR 02:01.37 02:01.37
Ajee WILSON USA 01:58.29 02:01.38
Lindsey BUTTERWORTH CAN 02:01.45 02:01.45
Elena BELLÒ ITA 02:01.45 02:01.45
Freweyni HAILU ETH 02:01.89 02:01.89
Hedda HYNNE NOR 02:00.92 02:02.05
Síofra CLÉIRIGH BÜTTNER IRL 02:00.58 02:03.18
Habitam ALEMU ETH 01:58.19 NA

Hand her the gold medal now. Brit Keely Hodgkinson is in this one and should be golden when it’s all said and done. Take a look at the all-time 800 list. Nearly everyone in history above her was either a doper or intersex. The number of women that have run 1:55 clean while not being intersex is tiny. 

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Keely Hodgkinson wins Olympic silver

If it wasn’t for Athing Mu, Hodgkinson’s 2021 season is one that would be talked about for decades. As a teenager (she just turned 20 on March 3), Hodgkinson went from 2:01.73 in the 800 all the way down to 1:55.88 on the year, with that 1:55 pb coming in the Olympic final where she earned silver. She also won European indoor gold and then the DL final.

This year, she’s only run one 800 but it was the fastest indoor time in 20 years — 1:57.20.

They will hand out three medals in Belgrade, however. As to who gets silver and bronze, it’s most likely going to be one of the five other women who have broken 2:00 indoors in their careers.

Natoya Goule of Jamaica (1:58.46), Halimah Nakaayi of Uganda (1:58.58), and Catriona Bisset of Australia (1:59.46) have all broken 2:00 this year and set indoor national records in the process.

But Bisset and Goule were in the 800 in Birmingham with Hodgkinson and Hodgkinson won by 2+ seconds. The 2019 outdoor world champ Nakaayi has finished second in both of her last two 800s, losing once to Goule and once to Bisset.

American Ajee’ Wilson, who has earned silver in the last two World Indoors, hasn’t broken 2:00 this year but she hasn’t lost an 800 either. Of course, in 2018, she hadn’t broken 2:00.90 before Worlds and she ran 1:58.99 in the final. In 2016, she didn’t break 2:00 before or at Worlds and also took silver. After a disappointing 2021, these champs are very important for Wilson. Do we see the normal Ajee’? Or has she lost a step?

The other medal contender is Ethiopian Habitam Alemu, who was 4th at World Indoors in 2018 and 6th in the Tokyo Olympics. She has only raced once indoors this year — a 4:02 1500.

Rojo’s picks: 1) Hodgkinson 2) Wilson 3) Nakaayi 

PS. I almost left Wilson off the medal list. If she doesn’t medal, I think her days as a global factor are nearing the end as it will mean she’s lost a step. Picking against Goule isn’t backed by stats as she’s only lost to Nakaayi once in her life (admittedly it was at Worlds in 2019).

Women’s 1500: Don’t bet against world record holder Gudaf Tsegay


1st name Last name Country PB SB World rank
Gudaf TSEGAY ETH 03:53.1 03:54.8 23
Axumawit EMBAYE ETH 04:02.1 04:02.1 18
Hirut MESHESHA ETH 04:02.1 04:02.1 20
Josette NORRIS USA 04:03.2 04:03.2 15
Winnie NANYONDO UGA 04:03.5 04:03.5 23
Jessica HULL AUS 04:04.1 04:06.0 22
Heather MACLEAN USA 04:05.3 04:06.1 31
Sara KUIVISTO FIN 04:06.1 04:06.1 17
Claudia Mihaela Bobocea ROU 04:06.2 04:06.2 11
Sarah HEALY IRL 04:06.9 04:06.9 13
Aurore FLEURY FRA 04:07.1 04:07.1 4
Linden HALL AUS 04:07.4 04:07.4 20
Marta PÉREZ ESP 04:07.4 04:07.5 19
Lucia STAFFORD CAN 04:05.7 04:07.6 17
Erin WALLACE GBR 04:08.9 04:08.9 18
Kristiina MÄKI CZE 04:08.4 04:09.6 22
Alma Delia Cortes MEX 04:09.6 04:09.6 26
Gresa BAKRAQI KOS 04:24.1 04:24.1 11
Anjelina Nadai Lohalith ART 04:31.6 04:36.9 1
Nozomi TANAKA JPN 03:59.2 o 4
Amna BAKHIT Barsham SUD 04:19.2 o

Hand her the gold medal now. Gudaf Tsegay is the world record holder in the indoor 1500 (3:53.03) and she’s run 3:54.77 this year. The next fastest person in the field — her compatriot Axumawit Embaye — has run 4:02.12 this year. When you are 7+ seconds better than everyone else, you don’t lose. A 4:03 miler doesn’t lose to a 4:10 miler. The same logic applies here.

I don’t like Embaye’s medal chances. While she won silver at this event way back in 2014, in her last race, she was just 5th overall and 4th for Ethiopia in Madrid. Since Tsegay got a wildcard as the World Indoor Tour winner, Ethiopia has a third entrant in this event – -21-year old Hirut Meshesha. She’s raced three 1500s this year and run 4:02-4:03 in all three. Last year at age 20, she ran 3:59 outdoors. Since her best days are ahead of her, I like her chances much better than Embaye’s.

Uganda’s Winnie Nanyondo was 7th in the Olympics last year and 4th in the 800 at Worlds in 2019 but she hasn’t finished in the top 3 in any of her 1500s this year.

Actually, to say Tsegay is 7+ seconds better than everyone in the field is only technically accurate. One of the biggest medal threats is American Josette Norris. Her 4:20.81 mile from Millrose converts to 4:01.45 for 1500. If Norris is a medal threat, then that means the US champ, US Olympian Heather MacLean, also has to be a medal threat even though her seasonal best is just 4:06.09 this year and her outdoor lifetime best is a modest 4:02.09.

Aussie Linden Hall ran the race of her life in the Olympic final — a 3:59.01 that placed her sixth — but she hasn’t broken 4:07 in three attempts this winter. If you think Hall had a good Olympics, let me tell you what Japan’s Nozomi Tanaka did in Tokyo. Heading into mid-July last year, her pb was 4:05.27. That was the Japanese record. In her last pre-Olympic 1500, she ran 4:04.08. Then, in Tokyo, she ran 4:02.33 in round one, 3:59.19 in the semis, and 3:59.95 in the final (8th). A medal for Tanaka still would be a shock result here but we have no idea what form she’s in as she has no races listed on the results database tilastopaja.eu.

Rojo’s Prediction: 1) Tsegay 2) Norris 3) Meshesha 

Tsegay seems invincible here. Not only is she way faster than everyone in the field in the 1500, she’s also got way better endurance given her Olympic 5000 bronze, so the fact that this features two rounds will help her.

Women’s 3000: This one is super hard to predict


1st name Last name Country PB SB World rank
Dawit SEYAUM ETH 08:23.24 08:23.24 27
Ejgayehu TAYE ETH 08:26.77 08:26.77 10
Alicia MONSON USA 08:31.62 08:31.62 13
Gabriela DEBUES-STAFFORD CAN 08:33.92 08:33.92 13
Jessica HULL AUS 08:39.79 08:39.79 22
Elinor PURRIER St. Pierre USA 08:36.41 08:41.53 20
Beatrice CHEBET KEN 08:37.06 08:41.92 5
Laura GALVÁN MEX 08:42.29 08:42.29 5
Julie-Anne STAEHLI CAN 08:43.55 08:43.55 21
Amy-Eloise MARKOVC GBR 08:44.15 08:44.15 5
Marta PÉREZ ESP 08:44.40 08:44.40 19
Hanna KLEIN GER 08:44.61 08:44.61 6
Edinah JEBITOK KEN 08:45.46 08:45.46 10
Luiza GEGA ALB 08:44.46 08:47.53 5
Lauren RYAN AUS 08:47.88 08:47.88 15
Selamawit TEFERI ISR 08:48.11 08:48.11 24
Meraf BAHTA SWE 08:42.46 08:55.75 24
Amelia QUIRK GBR 08:48.82 09:06.21 18
Jhoselyn CAMARGO Aliaga BOL 09:44.10 10:00.20 21
Lemlem HAILU ETH 08:29.28
Rahel DANIEL ERI 09:46.33 o

This race has the potential to mesmerize. The way I see it, there are five medal contenders. Three from Ethiopia and two from North America.

The lead entrant in the women’s 3000 is Ethiopia’s Dawit Seyaum. Seyaum was so good as a junior that Mary Cain and Alberto Salazar wanted no part of her at World Juniors in 2014. Seyaum is the reason why Cain ran (and won) the 3000 at World Juniors in 2014, not the 1500, as Seyaum was a 3:59 1500 runner as a 17-year-old. She won the 1500 at World Juniors that year by nearly a full second over Gudaf Tsegay, who we just mentioned is the indoor 1500 WR holder as well as Olympic 5000 bronze medallist.

However, just as Cain didn’t go on to pro stardom, neither did Seyaum. In 2015, she was 4th at Worlds in the 1500. In 2016, she was 8th in the Olympics but did improve her pb to 3:58.09. However, from 2017-2020, she didn’t break 4:00. Last year, it looked like she might be moving on to a career on the roads as she ran 14:39 for 5k and 67:52 for the half. But in 2022, she’s come back to the track and is undefeated on the year. On January 6, she won an XC race in Italy, then on Feburary 17 she ran her world-leading 8:23.24 — a PB by 14+ seconds and #3 all-time — and then two days later she won the 1500 in Birmingham in 4:04.35. And she’s still only 25.

When she ran that 8:23, she beat the # 2 seed in Belgrade, Ejgayehu Taye, by two seconds in the process. Taye, 22, is quite a talent. She ran 14:14.09 last year at age 21 and was 5th in the Olympic 5000. To prove that wasn’t a fluke, she ran 14:19 on the roads on New Year’s Eve.

Ethiopia’s Lemlem Hailu, 20, won the World Indoor Tour wildcard in 2021 and is also in here. She’s only raced once indoors in 2022 — a 4:02 1500 — and ran 8:29 last year when she also made it to the semis in Tokyo in the 1500.

The two other medal contenders hail from North America — Gabriela DeBues-Stafford of Canada and Elle Purrier St. Pierre (PSP) of the US. 

If Purrier was in the 1500, she’d be my pick for the silver given she has a 3:58.03 pb and ran 4:19.30 in the mile at Millrose. However, she was upset at the US champs and only made the team in the 3000. The fastest time she’s ever recorded in a 3000 race is the 8:41.53 she ran to win USAs but she split 8:36.41 in the midst of her 9:10.28 American record in the 2-mile in 2021 and that converts to down to 8:29.33 for 3000. If your PB is under 8:30 and you can run 3:58, you are certainly a major medal threat.

DeBues-Stafford doesn’t technically have the sub-8:30 pb either, but trust me, she could break it. When she ran her 14:31.38 Canadian record in the 5000 in Boston earlier this winter, she ran her last 3000 in 8:30.83 — that’s 3+ seconds faster than her own 8:33.92 Canadian indoor 3,000-meter record from February 6. 

Of the two North Americans, I like DeBues-Stafford’s odds better than Purrier’s. Her PRs are better at every distance:

800: 1:58.70 vs 1:59.99
1500: 3:56.12 vs 3:58.03
5000: 14:31 vs 14:58

That being said, PSP leads their head to head matchups 5-4.

I thought about listing the second American entrant Alicia Monson (8:31 pb) as a medal threat but the more I think about it she’s not going to beat two of the Ethopians and both of the Americans.

Rojo’s picks: I’m super pumped to see how this plays out as there is no right answer. I was tempted to pick DeBues-Stafford but hesitated as I thought to myself 1) These races won’t be perfectly set up negative splits like she’s used to; and 2) She’s never won a global medal. 

Then I realized that of the five contenders, only Seyaum has won a global medal (silver at World Indoors), and that was way back in 2016.

I also thought about picking Taye as how does a 14:14 woman lose? In the last month since her 8:26, her lone race of 2022, has she been getting fitter and fitter? If so, game over. But I don’t know what she’s been up and I have no idea what her closing speed is like as she has no 1500 times listed. 

John Kellogg tells me 14:31 converts to about 8:22 for 3k. That’s pretty good. So I’ll go back to my first instinct. Plus if DeBues-Stafford wins and then goes on to even better things outdoors, maybe her coach Jerry Schumacher will let his Bowerman TC crew race a little bit more. 

1) DeBues-Stafford 2) Seyaum 3) Taye

Our men’s mid-d/distance preview is here.

*Schedule *TV Info

Previous coverage:

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