Hellen Obiri, Abeba Aregawi, Jennifer Simpson, photo by PhotoRun.net
The 1,500 meters for women showed how global the sport truly is: gold medal for Sweden, silver medal for U.S. and bronze medal for Kenya. Justin Lagat talks about how important this medal is to Kenya and how tough the women’s 1,500 meters truly was.
The Bronze Medal in Women’s 1500m May Count Dearly for Kenya, by Justin Lagat
As expected by many, Abeba Aregawi of Sweden won the women’s 1500m title in Moscow by executing a great finishing kick in the last 400m. Jennifer Simpson of US won the silver medal while Kenya’s Hellen Obiri, who had run behind Simpson at the Monaco Diamond League, followed her here again to take the bronze medal. Hannah England of Great Britain ran past Faith Chepng’etich just at the finish line as they both finished in fourth and fifth positions respectively. Well, this was one of the races where the medals were evenly distributed across the continents; one for Europe, one for America and one for Africa.
Kenyans already knew that they had remote chances of winning against Abeba Aregawi of Sweden and Jeniffer Simpson, the defending champion from the US. The best we could expect here was a bronze medal and Hellen Obiri, the world indoor champion in the 3000m was able to deliver just that. The medal itself would become very precious to Kenya as it kept our country shoulder to shoulder in second position with Russia in the total number of medals collected so far by the end of the 6th day at the world championships.
At the start of the race, Mary Cain of the US led at the front in a relatively fast pace, but didn’t go past the 400m when her compatriot, Jennifer Simpson, took over from her. The pace seemed to have been slowed a bit with two laps to go and the field appeared uncomfortably crowded as the athletes struggled to occupy vantage positions in readiness to unleash their full potentials as they approached the last lap. At the bell, Aregawi sparked reactions from the athletes in front as she began to move to the lead. With 300m to go, Aregawi had already opened a gap at the front followed closely by Jenifer Simpson. Two Kenyans; Hellen Obiri and Faith Chepng’etich chased the two leaders and it looked almost obvious that one Kenyan was definitely going to win a bronze medal, but it was not yet clear which one of the two. Aregawi and Simpson were already on their own battle for gold ahead of the rest as the Sweden crossed the finish line in 4:02.67 followed closely by Simpson, who seemed to have been gaining ground on the winner towards the finish line, at 4:02.99. Hellen Obiri, who was the winner at the Kenyan trials and one of the athletes who always fights hard till the end, came in third place to win the bronze medal. Faith Chepng’etich, perhaps after seeing that she was no longer going to get a medal, started to lose strength in the last 100m and Hannah England of Great Britain passed her so close to the finish line.
Earlier on, during the first heat of the semi finals, Faith Chepng’etich had appeared stronger than she did at the finals and her time of 4:04.83 then was even faster than the one of 4:05.08 which she recorder in the finals. Nancy Jebet had been in that semi final heat and we had to await the results of the other heat to know whether she would advance to the finals. She did, after the second heat recorded slower times. All the three Kenyans had then made it to the finals and Nancy Jebet being the last Kenyan in the finals ended up in position nine, making sure that all the Kenyans here finished in the top ten positions.
With three days to go before the end of the world championships, each medal now count for Kenya as it strives to get into the second position behind the US which currently leads with 14 medals while Russia and Kenya are tied together in second position with 8 medals each. With a few more medals likely to come in the men’s 1500m, marathon and 5000m, Kenya might just end up in second position this time round at the world championships.