MOSCOW (11-Aug) — Striding confidently down the homestretch in her all-red Team USA uniform, Jenny Simpson qualified easily for the semi-finals of the 1500m here on the second day of the 14th IAAF World Championships, the critical first step of her title defense. Running in the second of three heats, Simpson was the runner-up to Australia’s Zoe Buckman, clocking.16.
“I just felt like I needed a clean, smooth race,” Simpson told a group of reporters in the mixed zone under Luzhniki Stadium after her race. “My best effort would be if I got out there and just really took control of myself from the start. I tried to stay to the outside and pick a good spot up with the leaders.”
Simpson, 26, who lives and trains in Boulder, Colo., under her former university coach Mark Wetmore, is on the upswing after a disappointing season last year. After winning her world title in Daegu in 2011, Simpson struggled during the 2012 Olympic year to find the same form. Although she made the USA team for London, she did not make the Olympic final, finishing just 12th in her semi-final.
In a surprise move, Simpson switched coaches, breaking what had been a successful partnership with the Air Force Academy coach Juli Benson. She and husband Jason also moved from Monument, Colo., where they owned a home near the Air Force Academy and the USA Olympic Training Center, back to Boulder where Simpson had starred as Jenny Barringer for the University of Colorado. She now trains with two-time USA steeplechase champion Emma Coburn, another Colorado alum who is coached by Wetmore.
Here in Moscow, Simpson is amongst the favorites for gold with Sweden’s Abeba Aregawi, Britain’s Hannah England, Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba, and Kenya’s Hellen Obiri. Simpson said today that her meet was off to a good, sober start.
“I tried to hold back the temptation to showboat on these rounds,” said the always thoughtful Simpson. “I think that there’s a temptation deep inside of you because all of us have big egos once you get here to show people what you’ve got.” She continued: “I’m trying to save the turbo boosters for when I need them.”
Simpson will be joined in the semi-finals by two of her American teammates, teenager Mary Cain and former Tennessee Lady Volunteer Sarah Brown. Cain finished sixth in the first heat in.21 and Brown finished eighth in the third and final heat in -flat and advanced on time. Brown was a last-minute replacement for USA 1500m champion Treniere Moser who had to withdraw from the meet with a hamstring injury. Brown only arrived to Moscow yesterday after quickly getting a visa from the Russian Consulate in New York.
All of the other favorites advanced easily, including Britain’s England, who won the silver medal in Daegu two years ago. She finished third in heat three in.05.
“I felt fine,” England told Race Results Weekly. “It felt a bit weird because I hadn’t raced since the (UK) Trials. So, kind of last night and today I’m thinking, ‘Why did I do that, why didn’t I race?’ But now I’m all right, nice and relaxed.”
Out of 37 women who started the preliminary round today, 24 advanced to the semi-finals which will be held. The final will be held .