Jenny Simpson, shows her promise, once again, by Larry Eder

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Updated on February 11, 2014, with new photos from NBIndoorGP

For me, it was in the semi-final of the women's 1,500 meters in Daegu, Korea, in August 2011,  that I knew Jenny Simpson was the real thing. 

I had watched her go pro in 2010, and saw the confidence that both Tom Carleo and Josh Rowe of New Balance had in her. New Balance was paying Jenny Barringer then, soon to be Jenny Simpson, a tidy amount to represent their brand. When she cut back in 2010, due to some injuries, the snickering started. Second guessing is always a part of sports marketing, and there is always second guessing on athlete paychecks, especially in this sport. 

 Her 9:12.5 for the steeplechase in the Berlin 2009 final and her 3:59.5 1,500 meters in 2009 were also big performances, but, the transition from collegiate star to world star never comes for even some of the most talented. 
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Jenny Simpson, racing the two mile at NB Indoor GP, 
February 8, 2014, 
 by PhotoRun.net (Drake 2013)

It was on the back stretch of the 1,500 meters in that 2011 semi-final. Go find the film. Watch Simpson move out to lane two and put on this major increase in speed in no time, where she went from sixth to a good second or tie for first. I caught my breath after that one, and noted, Simpson for a medal. 

In the 1,500 meter final in Daegu, Jenny Simpson ran a perfect final, and well-positioned, she took the race with less than fifty meters to go, surprised herself, I believe, with her desire to win and her obvious leg speed. 



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Jenny Simpson, racing the two mile at NB Indoor GP, 
February 8, 2014, 
by PhotoRun.net (Drake 2013)
 
A world champion gold medalist, is a victory, and a terrible burden. You can not blow your nose without someone like me prognosticating on the significance. Jenny Simpson has handled that challenge with the aplomb of a world class athlete and sports entertainer, which is what all track athletes are (that is another column). 

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Jenny Simpson, racing the two mile at NB Indoor GP, 
February 8, 2014, 
 by PhotoRun.net (Drake 2013)

2012, with the world of American running on her shoulders, Jenny Simpson made it to London, but not, alas, to the final. Simpson's 2013 gold medal in the 1,500 meters had been the first gold medal for an American women at the World Champs for 1,500m since Mary Decker in 1983. Soon, the weberati were all over Jenny Simpson, criticizing all that she did-was she, alas, over?

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Jenny Simpson, 2014 NB Indoor GP two mile, 
photo by PhotoRun.net

In 2013, Jenny Simpson, moved back to Boulder, and began running with Emma Coburn and her former Colorado environs. Her training partners in Colorado Springs had been Air Force academy men who had graduated in 2012. For Jenny Simpson to make the change, she considered a comment her father had made to her, " As a pro elite athlete, you have to fire yourself". Simpson took that to mean that, if things were not going well, Jenny Simpson would have to initiate the change. In the end, she had to make some decisions. And, she did. 

Jenny speaks of her changes in 2013 with the voice of someone who realized that, she needed a change.She changed coaches, and training environs. A new training group of women has benefited her. 2013 was a good season, with fine races from Drake Relays to a pb at 800 meters at Oxy in May. At the US champs, already guaranteed a position in the 2013 WC, Jenny Simpson moved up to the 5,000m and battled Molly Huddle in a tactical, humid 5,000m in Des Moines, Iowa, and took the title. 

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Abeba Aregawi and Jenny Simpson take gold, silver in Moscow 1,500m, 
photo by PhotoRun.net 

With the speed of a new pb at 800 meters, and the strength to win a 5,000 meter national title, Jenny Simpson was ready for Moscow. So was Abeba Aregawi, a former Ethiopian who had moved to Sweden, and recently won the European Indoor Championships, setting a new Swedish record for the 1,500m in the process.  In the end, it came down to Aregawi and Simpson. Jenny managed the race with all of her talents, and gutted out a tough sprint as Aregawi took the lead and took the silver medal. 

" I am very proud of that silver medal. In some ways, I am more pleased with the medal from Moscow." Jenny Simpson told this writer in a recent conversation. 

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Jenny Simpson, Cinque Mulini, 2014, 
photo by PhotoRun.net

So, what does one do, with a 2011 gold and a 2013 silver in 2014, when one has no global championships? Jenny Simpson is trying some different things. She ran the 82 year old Cinque Mulini cross country race in Italy, taking a quite respectable third. " On the last loop, all I could think of was coming back and winning this thing." added a smiling Jenny Simpson. Cinque Mulini is a notorious cross country race, which runs through building, up steps and challenges even the heartiest cross country specialists. Kip Keino, Seb Coe, and now, Jenny Simpson, has run the heralded European race. 

Jenny Simpson planned one indoor race, which would be the two mile at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. The race, held last night, did not go as Jenny Simpson had planned, but, to this observer, showed the continued promise and drive of the two time World Champ medalist. 

A pacer took the field through a 4:43 mile, and with Sally Kipyego in front, Jordan Hasay moved past Jenny Simpson, who seemed to have a tough patch. With three laps to go, Jenny Simpson seemed to wake up from her mid race slumber, went by Jordan Hasay and made up some serious real estate over from four lap out to beginning of two laps to go, passing Sally Kipyego on the back turn. 

Her speed was inspiring, and the crowd was enthused. And then, as quick as she had lead, Jenny Simpson stopped. Sally Kipyego kept going, knowing she had another lap in the two mile. For Simpson that realization took a few precious seconds. 

Sally Kipyego, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist at 10,000m, just recently recovered from a stress fracture, went on for the win in 9:21.04. Jenny Simpson got herself going, finishing second in 9:26.19, only three seconds off the AR. 

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Jenny Simpson, photo by PhotoRun.net


It was obvious that Jenny Simpson would not only have won, but broke the AR of 9:23, without that miscounting of laps. Jenny Simpson felt bad for the meet manager, Mark Wetmore, but Mark was fine. It was obvious that Jenny Simpson has more drive than some give her credit for. That two mile record will have to wait for another day.

As a modern professional athlete, Jenny Simpson represents her brand, New Balance. She is a fine symbol for a brand that wants to show it is close to the sport. Jenny Simpson, more than through the shoes and apparel she wears, shows that one can come back from good days and curious days. Young athletes watch that, and they get Jenny Simpson, one of the most popular athletes in the sport. 

Next on the agenda: the USA Cross Country Champs in Boulder, Colorado, next weekend. 

After the Cinque Mulini and New Balance two mile, running in cold and altitude will be a piece of cake! 

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Jenny Simpson, Cinque Mulini, 
photo by PhotoRun.net

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