Jenny Simpson, USA, 2011 WC 1,500 meters, gold medalist, photo by PhotoRun.net
It was in the semi-final of the 1,500 meters that Jenny Simpson showed her stuff. Running a super last fifty meters, Simpson, who stayed fairly close, moved up and went by on the outside and made the final, setting her up for the final of her life.
Jenny Simpson, who took fifth in the 2009 World Championships in the steeplechase, ran a new AR of 9:12.5. In 2010, Simpson had injury issues and had just signed with New Balance in a very lucrative contract, and moved from the Steeple to the 5,000 meters and 1,500 meters. Many questioned the move.
In 2011, Jenny Simpson ran 1,500 meters and did well. But her runs in Daegu were well timed, smart and well positioned. Her first round was fine, but in her semi-final, it was amazing!
The final was where Simpson showed her stuff!
The race went out slow and the field was very, very close. Mimi Belete of Bahrain lead, with Maryam Jamal, also of Bahrain right behind her. Belete hit the 400 meters in 68.78. Morgan Uceny of the US, the US champion, was running well, right in fourth place, with Jenny Simpson tucked about eighth place at the time.
The pace did not really pick up over the next lap, as Belete continued to lead, hitting the 800 meters in 2:13.94.
Natalia Rodriuguez of Spain, a tough racer if there every was one, moved up to the front as Jenny Simpson moved up to the fourth position, and the pack got very close, and Maryam Jamal got herself beat up in the crowd, and fell to last. Hellen Obiri fell and Morgan Uceny, who had been poised to run well, fell over her, rolled, hit her hand on the track and got back up and started running. Uceny would finish tenth in 4:19.71.
Natalia Rodriguez, Spain, 2011 WC 1,500m, bronze medalist, photo by PhotoRun.net
Natalia Rodriguez of Spain was starting to wind it up, hitting the bell in 3:03.47. And this is when it got interesting.
Natalia Rodriguez started to push, with Ingvill Makestad Bovim of Norway, Mim Belete of Bahrain, Kalkidan Gezahegne, Btissam Lakhouad all running well.
Simpson and Hannah England were in back of this group and Simpson moved to the outside at the start of the final straightaway and started eating up the track! Simpson, with that front leaning overstride that is her modus operandi, went by Lakhouad, then, Galkidan, who started to fall back, then Rodriguez and moved to first as Hannah England of Great Britain churned it up behind her, moving into second and looking like she was going to find a way to pass Simpson.
Jenny Simpson was not coming this close to a gold, and she just put the proverbial peddle to the metal and hit that finish line in 4:05.40! The first gold medal for an American women since Mary Slaney in 1983 at the 1,500 meters !
Hannah England finished in second in 4:05.68, and Natalia Rodriguez of Spain took the bronze in 4:05.87. In fourth, Morocco’s Btissam Lakhouad ran 4:06.18. In fifth, Kalkidan Gezahegne of Ethiopia, the 2010 World Champion Indoors at 1,500 meters, ran 4:06.42. In sixth, Ingvill Makestad Bovim ran 4:06.85.
Mimi Belete of Bahrain was seventh in 4:07.60. Tugba Karakaya of Turkey was eighth in 4:08.14, and Nataliya Tobias of the Ukraine was ninth in 4:08.68. In tenth, Morgan Uceny of the US ran 4:19.71, having to put her medal run off to another day.
Tonight, running her perfect race, showing the talent that many have seen and wondered, Jenni Barringer Simpson did what one needs to do in a world Championship final; Stay out of trouble, be close enough to strike. Working with coach Juli (Henner) Benson, 1996 US Olympian at 1,500 meters, Simpson worked hard for this day.
Not only was Jenny Simpson close enough to strike, she had enough in the tank to hold off Hannah England, who was having the race of her life, as well.
What a race! Jenny Simpson ran a 1,500 meter final like she wanted to win it, and she did!
Gary Morgan, our mixed zone reporter, tracked Jenni Simpson down after the race, and here is how she summed up her gold medal performance at the World Championships:
“The Worlds is about top three. I ran within myself. I had a Prefontaine moment down the straightaway. Julie (Benson) is a positive coach who builds me up.Sometimes things just come together when you least expect it. I was been fighting some kind of flu six weeks ago.”
Jenni continued: “Julie told me the World Championships are coming. My college coach had lots of influence on me. Husband is incredibly supportive and he is running the Chicago marathon. I focused on myself when I raced today and training at the Olympic training center has been incredible.”
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