The Stockholm DL 1,500 meters is off! photo by PhotoRun.net
Jennifer Simpson may be the best woman 1,500m racer on the planet. After her run last night in Stockholm, where she took down Genzeba Diba, Sifan Hassan, Shannon Rowbury and Abeba Aregawi, as well as a host of others, the argument can be well defended.
Here is how I saw the race:
The conditions in Stockholm were brisk. Windy and about 50 degrees at the start of the women’s 1,500 meters. This was the last running event of the night. The final three or four events had been hurt by poor race starters, where false starts had happened in men’s 100m, women’s 100m hurdles and the steeplechase. The meet was behind for television and there was a bit of tension among the television media.
But, this was a way to end a track meet. The British meet director Ian Stewart, former Euro, Commonwealth champ, would always tell me that you put your best event at the very end of the meet, so that the fans go away enthused and wanting more! Well, that was done in Stockholm.
The pace was as brisk as the weather. 62.17 for the 400 meters, and then, Genzebe Dibaba took off, like a gun, and ran, with Jenny Simpson and Sifan Hassan holding on for dear life, as Dibaba hit the 800 meters in 2:05.85, the fastest split of the year.
Jennifer Simpson, Brenda Martinez, Meraf Bahta, photo by PhotoRun.net
Sifan Hassan was in full flight as was Simpson, Rowbury, et al.
Genzebe Dibaba came through the 1100 meter mark in 2:54, hitting the 1200 in 3:06 and the race was on!
Dibaba was leading and running fast, but the early pace had hurt many in the field. Just a week ago, Jenny Simpson had told me ” I thought I could handle 2:07 in Paris, but I just did not know”. Now, a month later, she runs the 800 meters in just under 2:07 and the race was on!
Dibaba had a slight lead at 1100 meters, and at 1200 meters, as the kickers wound up. None of them were wound up more than Jennifer Simpson. She was ready to fly.
Jenny Simpson began to fly at about 300 meters, but so were Hassan and others! Dibaba was slowing down, but what would happen?
Simpson continued to push, with Hassan right there and Dibaba as well. Who would win?
It was not until the last fifty meters, that the race was determined.
“I felt good on the final lap, but, over that last 50 meters, I could feel my legs falling apart!” laughed Jenny Simpson the next morning, after her shake out run.
As Simpson came down the stretch, with the determination she showed in Paris on 5 July, Jennifer Simpson took on Sifan Hassan, fastest 1,500m in world in 2014, European champion as well and went by her!
And then, with a huge push, Jennifer Simpson caught Genzebe Dibaba, who had taken the big gamble to win, and came very close.
Jenny Simpson held on through the tape and won in 4:00.18.
The Swedish TV stations, on the train the next day, showed the final kick of the race and noted “Anticlimactic race finishes DN Galan”.
As Abeba Aregawi was last and Meraf Bahta, the new European 5000m champion, was near the back, Swedish fans could have been disappointed.
But, the crowd at the meet, in the famous stadium, were there for such a race! And Jenny Simpson, 2011 World Champ, 2013, World silver medalist, showed that, on Thursday night, August 21, she was the master of the 1,500 meters.