Thursday, August 11, 2011

World Championships Preview – 1500 Meters

The Metric Mile, is one of the showcase events in the sport, and lately one of those hard to predict events. In large part because of the tendency for milers to get “tactical” in the big meets as opposed to simply “racing”. I don’t see an end to that trend on either the women or men’s sides in Daegu. That said, let’s take a look at the Metric Mile.




Women’s 1500

World Record 3:50.46 Qu Yunxia CHN
Meet Record 3:58.52 Tatyana Tomasova RUS
2009 Gold 4:03.74 Maryam Jamal BRN


2011 Best

  4:00.33 Maryam Jamal BRN
  4:00.97 Kalkaden Gezahegn ETH
  4:01.02 Yekaterina Gorbunova RUS
  4:01.09 Btissam Lakouad MAR
  4:01.33 Siham Hilali MAR
  4:01.50 Natalia Rodriguez ESP

On the clock, this season has been marked by Hengelo, Barcelona, and Cheboskary – the meets where the majority of season’s bests were set. On the track, however, the “big” races (Diamond League, et al) have been dominated by Maryam Jamal (BRN), and Morgan Uceny (USA). As these two women have emerged as the season’s best racers.

Similarly, while she has not won with regularity, Anna Mischenko (UKR) has run often, been competitive, and been consistent. Traits that I think will fair her well in what should be a tactical endeavor. Because outside of Jamal, most of the women near the top of the yearly list, have neither the wins, nor follow up times, to back up what so far have been “one off” season’s bests.

With the majority of the women from Berlin’s final, not headed back to the ball, defending champ Jamal is both the fastest on the clock and the most experienced runner heading into Daegu – huge advantages for her. Even  more so when you consider that she is a double defender, having won in both ‘07 and ‘09 following a 5th place finish in ‘05.

The one woman that has been successful against her this season is Uceny who was able to defeat her in Lausanne and Birmingham. A “rookie” at this level, Uceny has shown an improved racing acumen, which has consistently put her “in the mix” in every race she has run this year.

Which brings me to the potential fly in the ointment – Kenyan Nancy Langat. Langat has not had a great season to this point – her season's best 4:03.66 coming in a 5th place finish in Rome. But she did manage to finish second at the Kenyan Trials, and is experienced having won gold in Beijing. She bears watching as she is typically at her best in big races.

In a race with few “stars” I expect those who have been most dominant to continue in a tactical race that will be just fast enough to shake the pretenders:

Gold Maryam Jamal BRN 4:01.00
Silver Morgan Uceny USA 4:01.30
Bronze Anna Mischenko UKR 4:02.10
Just Missed Nancy Langat KEN 4:02.60





Men’s 1500

World Record 3:26.00 Hicham El Gruerrouj MAR
Meet Record 3:27.65 Hicham El Guerrouj MAR
2009 Gold 3:35.93 Yusuf Said Kamel BRN


2011 Best

  3:30.47 Silas Kiplagat KEN
  3:31.42 Nixon Chepseba KEN
  3:31.76 Asbel Kiprop KEN
  3:31.76 Abubaker Kaki SUD
  3:31.79 Nick Willis NZL
  3:31.82 Mohamed Shahween KSA

Yearly leader Silas Kiplagat, has also been the best on the circuit – winning at Pre, Monaco, and Stockholm. He’s also been the best on the clock, with the two fastest times on the season – and #14. Fellow Kenyan Asbel Kiprop has been a very consistent second all year, finishing in that position in that position in Shanghai, Paris and Stockholm in addition to being runner up behind Kiplagat at the Kenyan Trials.

Moroccan Amine Laalou has not raced as much as his Kenyan counterparts, but is undefeated in his two races in times of 3:31.92 and 3:32.15. On the other end of the spectrum Ethiopian Mekonnen Gebremedhin, has raced as much as the Kenyans, and as consistently as Kiprop has finished second, Gebremedhin as finished in third place – doing so in Doha, Shanghai, and Bislett. Though his final race before Daegu was an uncharacteristic 12th in Paris.

These seem to be the major players for my money. There are lots of fast times, but the yearly lists are heavily weighted with African athletes. Potentially the best non African, Bernard Lagat (USA), will be focusing his energies on the 5000 meters. Kiwi Nick Willis has PR’d this year, but was only 4th when he did, and only finished 10th in the loaded Pre mile. The one non African that may be able to crash the party, is American Leo Manzano, who showed signs of life in London with his 3:51.24 mile win. A similar type race in Daegu could find him pressing for the podium, as Manzano has proven to be able to kick with the top athletes over the final lap and down the final straight.

At the end of the day however, I see this as an African party with Kenya crowning it’s first ever World Champion:

Gold Silas Kiplagat KEN 3:32.80
Silver Asbel Kiprop KEN 3:33.10
Bronze Amine Laalou MOR 3:33.30
Just Missed Mekonnen Gebremedhin ETH 3:33.90

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