Gold medalist Asli Cakir Alptekin of Turkey celebrates with silver medalist Gamze Bulut of Turkey after the Women's 1500m Final on Day 14 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 10, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Taking the lead with some 250 metres remaining, Alptekin sped down the homestretch to take the victory in 4:10.23 with her teammate just a step behind in 4:10.40 to not only capture Turkey’s first-ever medals in the event, but the first Olympic 1-2 in the women’s 1500m by the same nation.
"We came to take gold and silver, we wanted two medals," said Alptekin, who became only the second woman from Turkey to win an Olympic gold medal. "And we succeeded."
While the pair also finished first and second at the European Championships in June, they competed sparingly, leaving their immediate pre-London form somewhat of a mystery. In her only other competition this summer, Alptekin finished second in Paris on 6 July, clocking a fast 3:56.62 personal best. Bulut's rise has been nothing if not extraordinary, beginning the season with a 4:18.23 best, one which she improved all the way to 4:01.18 in the semis two days ago. But they ran like seasoned veterans here.
Bulut, who celebrated her 20th birthday just one week ago, led the field with a dawdling opening lap of 1:15.12 and 2:23.97 through 800 metres, with Alpketin sauntering in and around fifth place in the tightly-knit pack. When they hit the bell it was still very much anyone’s race, but then the pack would soon unwind.
First to be knocked out of contention was U.S. champion and solid medal contender Morgan Uceny, who fell to the track just beyond the bell. Bulut carried the pack through the 1200-metre point (3:26.88) until Alptekin took over with a surge that seemed to leave her teammate behind for good.
Giving chase were two-time World champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain and this year’s Ethiopian breakout star Abebe Aregawi. They narrowed the gap slightly but instead of taking down the leader, they were both passed by a resurgent Bulut whose tremendous burst of speed over the final forty metres gave her silver.
Jamal held on for third in 4:10.74 to collect Bahrain’s first-ever gold medal at any Games. Aregawi faltered badly over the final 15 metres and was beaten to fifth by Russian Tatyana Tomashova, 4:10.90 to 4:11.03.
American Shannon Rowbury (4:11.26) rounded out the top-six while Lisa Dobriskey and Laura Weightman finished tenth and 11th for Great Britain.
Meanwhile, as the finishers came home, Uceny was still on her knees occupying the same spot in which she fell, pounding the track with tears of frustration flowing. One year ago, Uceny fell in the final at the World Championships where she was also a medal favourite.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF