The women’s 1,500m was, well, mind boggling! Stuart Weir opines on this exceptional race, yet also bemoans the fact that outside issues, as he calls them, are affecting his view of this most amazing World Championship event!
The women’s 1500m was an eagerly awaited race. Two former world champions were in the field. In the semi-fina,l four favorites had emerged yet there was a strong argument against each of them.
The four were:
Defending champion Faith Kipyegon but she had had a baby since winning last time and had run once this season before the world championships.
2011 world champion, Jenny Simpson, but she had not finished higher than fourth in a Diamond League in 2019
2018 Diamond League champion, Laura Muir but she had not run for 10 weeks prior to the championships due to injury
Sifan Hassan, in the form of her life, the 2019 Diamond League champion, yet she had won the 10,000 earlier in the week; would her legs be heavy from that race?
The result was
1 Sifan Hassan 3:51.95, a championship record and European record.
2 Faith Kipyegon 3:54.22, a Kenyan record
3 Gudaf Tsegay 3:54.38 PR
4 Shelby Houlihan 3:54.99 US record
5 Laura Muir 3:55.76
Hassan took the lead after 300 meters and was really never challenged. As Hassan entered the home straight she held a massive 15m lead and then kicked on to extend her advantage. Hassan had completed the unprecedented 1500m and 10,000m double at the IAAF World Athletics Championships.
Kipyegon was always in the first four but never looked like catching the leader. Kipyegon was limping heavily at the end. Laura Muir was last at the end of the first lap, but had moved up to second at the bell. Jenny Simpson was never in the race, finishing eighth.
The reality is that none of the others could live with the pace of Hassan. Kipyegon, the Olympic and World champion ran 2 seconds faster than she had ever run before and was only second – more than 2 seconds behind. Four of the five places behind Hassan ran PRs but were off the pace. Could Laura Muir have challenged had she been fully fit? Perhaps, but she would have needed to knock a second of her PR even to get a bronze medal.
Hasson commented afterwards: “This is amazing for me. This is such an honour. I’m showing what you can do with hard work. It was amazing when I crossed the line and I saw that time. I was so happy. It was a hard win for me. I was just so angry with what people were saying. I’ve worked so hard to be on top over the years. I felt very good after the 10,000m so I decided to go for the 1500m. I’ve been working hard at 1500m this year. It looked this was easy for me but it took so much hard work”.
Laura Muir’s comments confirm what an amazing race it was: “I was fifth! Fifth with 3:55!! I couldn’t do any more than that! I’m actually really, really happy, I know it’s not a medal which is what I would have wanted but to run 3:55… and to be fifth – well that’s unheard of! I am proud of myself to run that sort of time off the training that I have done. I never thought I was in that sort of shape. So yes to do that off that training gives me confidence to know that when 100%… well how fast can I go? A couple of months ago I didn’t know if I was going to be here, I didn’t know if I was going to get to the final. So to run 3:55 with three races in my legs, well I’m speechless that that’s not on the podium. But I couldn’t have done anything more, I ran my heart out”.
Hassan is a great athlete. I have no reason and no desire to question her integrity. However, one cannot help wishing she was not associated with the Oregon project. Earlier in the week, Hassan issued the following statement: “I am shocked to receive the news of today’s ruling, especially during this time in which I am fully preparing for my next race in the world championships in Doha. I like to state that this investigation is focused on the period before I joined the Oregon Project and therefore has no relation to me. I was aware of the ongoing investigations when I joined the team and have always had a clean conscience knowing we are being monitored to the absolute fullest by USADA and WADA. I will focus all my energy on my next race and my performance in the 1500m. A race that I have worked hard to prepare for and am very excited to race in hopes of winning my second world title”.
The question that has been asked many times this week and which remains unanswered is: Having admitted that she was aware of the ongoing investigations when she joined the team, why would you choose to go there?
I am frustrated. I have just witnessed one of the greatest races ever and yet I am writing about issues unrelated to the race.