Women's 1500m - Daegu Preview
Provided by IAAF
Maryam Jamal of Bahrain is seeking a third consecutive World title, and if this year’s world lists are anything to go by, she is in with a strong chance given that she has three of the top 10 times recorded, including the fastest two.
Jamal – who formerly competed for Ethiopia under the name Zenebech Tola before moving to Lausanne in 2002 and seeking political asylum – laid down an early marker ahead of Daegu when she won the Hengelo meeting in 4:00.33, which remains the best time so far this season.
A clocking of 4:00.59 in winning the Samsung Diamond League meeting at Monaco on 22 July served to underline that her preparations for the title defence are still going well.
But if Jamal is to succeed in Daegu she is going to have to work very hard in a year which has seen a large group of challengers establishing themselves.
Jamal’s former countrywoman, Kalkidan Gezahegne, ran 4:00.97 in following her home at Hengelo, and will clearly be a major threat to her. And there are eight athletes within a second of the Ethiopian’s time in the 2011 list.
Russia’s Ekaterina Gorbunova announced her status as a medal prospect by winning the Barcelona meeting on July 22 in 4:01.02 in a race which saw Spain’s Natalia Rodriquez finish second in 4:01.50 and Britain’s trials and championships winner Hannah England – one of the athletes mentored for many years by the 2004 double Olympic champion Kelly Holmes – third in a personal best of 4:01.89.
The 24-year-old England appears to be running into form at an ideal time, although she will face strong domestic opposition from the 2009 World silver medallist and former Commonwealth champion Lisa Dobriskey, who ran a bold front-running race in the 1500m staged at the Samsung Diamond League meeting in London to earn a victory and a measure of revenge for her defeat by England in the previous weekend’s World Championship trials.
That internal rivalry could work to both Briton’s advantage in an event which looks pretty even.
Then again, Morgan Uceny of the United States is running better and better as the season progresses. After kick-starting her season with back-to-back Samsung Diamond League victories in Paris and, two days later, Birmingham, the 26-year-old American now heads the Diamond Race in her event with 11 points, two points more than Jamal.
However Jamal beat the American relatively recently at the Monaco Diamond League, where Uceny recorded her season’s best of 4:01.51.
Uceny’s US colleague Shannon Rowbury will also travel to Daegu in optimistic mode after her strong showing at Crystal Palace, where she finished third behind the British pair.
Ukraine’s Anna Mischenko, also remains a threat in Daegu, as does the powerful Kenia Sinclair of Jamaica.
It would never do, either, to discount the chances of Ethiopia’s former World Cross short course champion and World Indoor champion Geleta Burka, who is still only 26 and a sub-4min runner, even if she has only a 4:03.28 to her name so far this season, a time she clocked in finishing third at the Samsung Diamond League meeting in Rome.
The Kenyan challenge has been muted this season, with Mercy Cherono their fastest runner in 2011 thanks to the 4:02.31 she clocked in finishing a place behind England in Barcelona.
But there looks likely to be a strong medal push from Morocco, who have two runners in the top five on this year’s world list – Btissam Lakhouad, who ran 4:01.09 in finishing second behind Jamal in Monaco, and Siham Hilali, who clocked 4:01.33 as she finished behind Jamal and Gesahegne in Hengelo.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF