Moscow, Russia -
For a fan of track and field, the women's 1500 meter
finals had it all at the World Championships at Luzhniki Stadium on
There was the overwhelming favorite, Abeba Aregawi, a native Ethiopian now
running for Sweden. The likeable defending champ, Jenny Simpson of the US.
The unsung former Duck, Zoe Buckman of Australia. The 17-year-old phenom,
Mary Cain of the US, coached by Alberto Salazar.
Oh, and three Kenyan runners, an Ethiopian and a Moroccan - all talented
enough to win the race.
The anticipation grew as the runners continued to run warm-up strides on
the backstretch as high jump winner Bohdan Bondarenko of the Ukraine took
three world record attempts (he missed on all three), which pushed the
start of the 1500 beyond the scheduled time.
When the gun was fired, Simpson went almost immediately to the lead.
Aregawi stayed close, as Simpson led through 1200 meters. Buckman was
running on the inside, four spots or so back through most of the race.
Cain, meanwhile, was in the back of the pack, five meters behind the field
with one lap to go.
With 300 meters left, Aregawi made her move into first. Simpson responded,
moving up on her shoulder, but lost touch on the final curve. Down the
homestretch, the former Colorado Buffalo gained ground, but couldn't catch
the leader, finishing in 4:02.67, .32 behind Aregawi. Helen Obiri of Kenya
took the bronze in 4:03.86.
Buckman held her own on the final stretch to take seventh in 4:05.77, and
Cain passed two runners with a strong last lap, though her time of 4:07.19
was more than two seconds off her best.
The 2011 champ Simpson said, "I think the last 200 I was almost
unconscious. I just kept telling myself, just run as hard as you can. . .
Even when Aregawi went past me I kept thinking, 'you can win this, you can
With Aregawi running a sub-60 second last lap, it wasn't to be.
Never a factor in the race, Cain spoke bluntly about her performance
afterwards. The high school senior (Bronxville, NY) discounted the idea
that she should have been just happy to be in a world championship final.
"I'm not even like sad," Cain said. "I'm just like angry. That is a good
thing and this whole meet was all a good learning experience. . . I know
many kids my age would just die to do this. But I'm a tough person and I
expect a lot from myself. I don't know what happened out there. I really
"A lot of people didn't even think I would get out of the heats including
myself. I know I can be faster. I feel so good. I think later tonight I'm
going to be really, really angry in a good way and it's going to help to
make me motivated."
After winning both her first round and semifinal races, Buckman turned in
a very respectable performance in the final. She said her three strong
races here would help her a great deal in the future.
"I got through the rounds at these championships and proved myself to be a
contender," Buckman said. "It is a platform to build from because it gives
me more confidence and ambition to get back into it.
"My goal coming here was to make the finals and I did that. I'm really
happy to get a PR here. I'm now one of the best in the world. Knowing that
is going to help me on those hilly 90 minute (training) runs on Sundays.
I'm only 24 years old and I've got a lot of years left."
Notes: . . . Evan Jager ran a strong race in the 3000 meter steeplechase
at the World Championships on Thursday evening, but couldn't stay with the
leaders on the final lap. Jager, who finished in 8:08.67, was with the lead
group of five runners with 400 meters to go but couldn't match the closing
speed of Kenya's Ezekiel Kemboi and Consesius Kipruto. Kemboi won in
8:06.01 and Kipruto was second in 8:06.37 . . . Jehue Gordon of Trinidad &
Tobago and Michael Tinsley of the U.S. battled stride for stride down the
homestretch of the 400 hurdles. They both leaned at the tape, but Gordon
got the win by .01 seconds in 47.69. He said later, "My heart crossed the
line before my body."