Friday, November 4, 2011

2011 in Review – Women’s 800 Meters

imageAt the end of the day this became a very difficult event to rank, as Daegu results would not mirror the season in total. The year would get off to an extremely slow start taking us up to June and the Prefontaine Classic before we would see someone go under two minutes, as Kenia Sinclair (JAM) went crashing through at 1:58.29 – easily the world leader to that point. In the process she beat a sterling field that included Caster Semenya (SA), 1:58.88), Janeth Jekoskgei (KEN, 1:59.15), Alysia Montano (US, 1:59.40) and Yulia Rusanova (RUS, 1:59.59).

That WL would be short lived, as on the next DL stop in Oslo, Halima Haclaf (MOR) sprinted by Mariya Savinova (RUS) in the stretch to take a 1:58.27 to 1:58.44 victory with Semenya (1:58.61) also under 1:59 and another five runners under 2:00.

Then oddly the event went right back above the two minute line, as Paris and Birmingham would go above two minutes before Kenia Sinclair once again won under two in 1:58.21, with Montano (6th, 2:00.69) and Semenya (8th, 2:01.28) well back of the pace. Then with London the final race before Daegu, hometown girl Jenny Meadows (GBR) cranked out a 1:58.60 to beat Sinclair (1:59.16) to head to Worlds on a high note. Savinova was missing from Paris, Birmingham and London, but still headed to Daegu as the world leader off a sizzling 1:56.95 win at the Russian championships.

In the 2 + 2 qualifying of the World Champs semis, Jenny Meadows’ third place finish would leave her on the outside looking in, while Montano and Sinclair’s would earn them trips to the final. The final was dominated by Savinova, however, as she cruised to gold with Semenya, and Jepkoskgei also making the podium. Montano would barely lose out to Jepkoskgei, while Sinclair would only manage 7th – and the difficulties with ranking this event began.

Just days after Worlds, Savinova would once again claim victory over Montano, Jepkosgei, Meadows and Semenya. Then Jepkosgei would take Semenya’s scalp in Berlin. And now I have to try and sort this all out.


#1 Mariya Savinova Russia

The World Champion, had a 6 – 1 overall record with wins in Stockholm and Zurich to go with Daegu – her only loss being a 2nd place run in Oslo. She was the world leader on the clock and defeated all the principles in the event.


#2 Caster Semenya South Africa

On the surface it seemed like Semnya lost a lot. Looking at Semnya’s record it stood at 8 – 7 – indeed a lot of losses, but also a lot of wins. In spite of the losses Semenya was the silver medalist in Daegu and had a 3 – 2 record over my #3 – earning the #2 spot on the year.


#3 Kenia Sinclair Jamaica

Here’s where it got really tricky,, because there was a lot of Ro Sham Bo going on in this event over the course of the season. In the end I chose to go with Sinclair here, because though she was only 7th at Worlds she was 5 – 4 on the year (one of the few winning records) with wins in Melbourne, Kingston, Pre, and Stockholm – and a runner up in London. She chose the wrong time to not step up, because in spite of placing only 7th in Daegu she still ran 1:58.66, but was the most consistent athlete all year long – thus gaining the #3 slot.


#4 Jenny Meadows Great Britain

It was a similar situation for Meadows, who failed to make it out of her semi in Daegu – in spite of having the same placing as Montano and Sinclair. But like Sinclair she was a beast on the Circuit with wins in Shanghai, Hengelo, Birmingham and London, and a 2nd in Stockholm in a 5 – 6 season.


#5 Janeth Jepkosgei Kenya

The World Champs bronze medalist garners the 5th spot here, mostly off the strength of her Daegu run. She was only 2 – 6 on the year, with her only major win in Berlin. But in a year where many athletes were up and down, and mostly down, performing at her best when it mattered, earns her the 5th spot.

Next I think I’ll take a look at the hurdle events before moving up in distance.

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