Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2011 in Review – Women’s 1500 Meters

Typically when in doubt, the result of the year’s Major championship does wonders to help sort out the top athletes on the season. When it comes to ranking this year’s women’s 1500 however, Daegu rendered itself fairly useless in the matter.

The season got going in earnest as Anna Mishchenko (UKR) won the first stop on the Diamond League in Doha with a WL 4:03.00 – setting a decent early pace. Mishchenko showed consistency in Rome running 4:03.53, but that was only good for 4th place as Maryam Jamal (BRN) laid the hammer down coming home in 4:01.60 for a new WL. Jamal would lower that SB three days later in Hengelo, scorching the oval for a 4:00.33 to turn back the PR’s of Kalkidan Gezahegne (ETH, 4:00.97), Siham Hilali (MAR, 4:01.33), and Irene Jelegat (KEN, 4:02.59).

The Prefontaine Classic would see one of the year’s best fields take to the track with Gelete Burka (ETH) emerging victorious in a tactical 4:04.63 ahead of Jamal (4:05.44), Morgan Uceny (USA, 4:06.32), Nuria Fernandez (ESP, 4:06.66) and Nancy Langat (KEN, 4:07.04). New York would see yet a different victor as Kenia Sinclair (JAM) would win the wind hindered race in 4:08.06 over Uceny (4:08.42), Gezahegne (4:08.46) and Burka (4:09.84) – as no one was dominant over the first half of the Euro season.

Morgan Uceny would then win a very tough U.S. championships in 4:03.91, running away in the final half lap from Jenny Simpson (4:05.66), Shannon Rowbury (4:06.20), and Christin Wurth Thomas (4:06.21) – Wurth Thomas missing out on a trip to Daegu by the narrowest of margins. A berth to Daegu secured, Uceny would head to Europe picking up wins in Lausanne (over Mishchenko, Gezahegne, and a back in 10th Jamal) and Birmingham (again over Gezahegne and Jamal) before heading to Monaco – the last big 1500 before Daegu. Monaco would be one of the year’s fastest races as Jamal once again found her way to the front of the line winning in 4:00.59 ahead of Btissam Lakhouad (MAR, 4:01.09) and Uceny (4:01.51, PR) who left it a bit late this time out, closing well but not catching the top two.

And so they would enter the World Championships with Jamal and Uceny on a role and Gezahegne and Lakouad running well. But the script was turned on its head in Daegu. Things seemed “normal” through two and a half laps. Then midway through the second turn of the third lap Hellen Obiri (KEN) would trip and fall, taking Uceny down with her. Uceny would be unable to recover, and though she didn’t fall, Jamal seemed knocked out of her rhythm as well. The final lap would see Natalia Rodriguez (ESP) take control and look to steal the race, as she would lead coming off the final turn. As they headed up the final stretch Jenny Simpson (USA) and Hannah England (GBR) would turn on the afterburners, catching and passing Rodriguez with Simpson coming away the victor (4:05.40), England (4:05.68) and Rodriguez (4:05.87) filling out the medals.

The top women would gather for one last go ‘round in the Diamond League final in Brussels with Uceny getting redemption, a world leader, and a new PR with a 4:00.06 win over all of the principals from Daegu, and the season, in tow – taking us to the top five rankings.

With the medalists from Daegu not playing a major factor the rest of the season ranking was a tad difficult, but not impossible – and note that none of the top women has a winning record for the season as the women raced fairly often and did a good job of playing “Ro Sham Bo” with each other.


#1 Morgan Uceny United States

At the end of the day Uceny earned my #1. He 4 – 5 record was statistically the best. She led the world on the clock at 4:00.06. She had key wins in Lausanne, Birmingham, and Brussels; was 2nd in New York and 3rd in Eugene & Monaco – placing well when she didn’t win. And she was 2 – 1 over my #2 – all enough to garner the top spot.


#2 Maryam Jamal Bahrain

Jamal was #2 on the clock with her 4:00.33. Her 3 – 5 record came courtesy of wins in Rome, Hengelo and Monaco; a 2nd in Eugene; and 3rds in Birmingham & Brussels. So like Uceny in most cases she placed well when she didn’t win.


#3 Anna Mishchenko Ukraine

Mishchenko is the one of the few top finishers from Daegu in my top five, having finished 4th at Worlds. She was the busiest of the top rankers with a 4 – 9 record on the season. She won in Doha and at the Colorful Daegu meet early season. She was 2nd in Lausanne and finished 3rd in Rieti & Stockholm (ETC) in addition to a pair of 4ths in Rome & Brussels – solid enough to earn 3rd here.


#4 Hannah England Great Britain

Britain’s silver medalist in Daegu garners the 4th spot here. The British champion was 2nd in London, 3rd in Barcelona and 5th in Brussels. Finishing well often enough to parlay silver into the #4 ranking.


#5 Kalkidan Gezahegne Ethiopia

The fifth placer from Daegu gets the same spot here. Runner up in Hengelo & Birmingham; 3rd in New York; and 5th in Doha & Lausanne she was the most consistent of those not in the top four.


So there you have it. That’s how I saw the women in the 1500. Next the men’s 1500 – and a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

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