Wednesday, July 29, 2009

America's Female Middle Distance Runners Step Up Their Game

AVIVA London Grand Prix - Day Two

It's been a while since we've headed towards a Major and I've felt we had a real shot at a medal in the middle distances on the women's side. Not since Jearl Miles Clark in the 800 in the late 90's and Suzy Favor Hamilton in the 1500 at the start of this decade have we really had the talent to make an impact internationally.

That's changed in a big way in 2009! We got our first glimpse at the Prefontaine Classic where Jenny Barringer just missed victory by.01 while breaking the 4 minute barrier in the 1500 (3:59.90). Behind her we also saw outstanding runs by Anna Willard (4:01.44) and Christin Wurth Thomas (4:01.72). We also watched Maggie Vessey come from way back in the field for an upset win in the 800 in 2:00.18. Her stretch run showing that she had what it would take to run under 2 minutes.

They showed they had talent in Eugene, but Europe loomed large come summer, as success has been a rare commodity for US middle distance runners on the other side of The Pond. But this year has been different. Anna Willard got an 800 win in Paris at 1:58.80. Christin Wurth Thomas ran second in Rome and broke the 4 minute barrier in the 1500 with her 3:59.98 run. And just yesterday Maggie Vessey shocked the 800 field in Monaco with her 1:57.83 victory.

On the heels of Shannon Rowbury's emergence last year - 4:00.33 and ranked #6 in the world in the 1500 - suddenly we have not one, not two, but FIVE young ladies that can truly compete on the world stage over 800 and 1500 meters!

We will see in a few weeks just how well they do in Berlin. But the one thing they all seem to have in common is a very strong competitive spirit. So whether they do well at Worlds or it ends up being a "learning experience", I am confident that we have a bright future in store with these young ladies. It's been a long time coming.

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