10 MAR 2001 General News

Women 1500 metre heats

Women 1500m heats

The main favourites Sonia O'Sullivan, Violeta Beclea-Szekely, Carla Sacramento and Hasna Benhassi, all made it through the qualifying round of the women's 1500m, although 16 year-old Georgie Clarke missed out on a place in the final by just 6/100ths of a second, despite setting a new Oceania record of 4:13.21. In the first heat, it was Clarke who dashed to the front, leading the field through the first two laps in 68.36. 1997 world outdoor 1500m champion Sacramento sprinted clear just before the bell (600m in 2:17.03), with Slovenia's Helena Jovornik in hot pursuit, with Beclea-Szekely quickly closing the gap, and moving into the lead just before the final bend. The Romanian crossed the line first with 4:10.77, just ahead of Sacramento (4:10.82). O'Sullivan did not react quickly enough to the decisive break, and had to work hard down the final 50 metre straight to catch Javornik - eventually taking the last automatic qualifying place by 1/100th (4:11.27) with the Slovenian making it as a fastest loser.

The second heat was also lively, with Romanian Maria Cioncan setting the early pace, going through 400m in 68.63 and 800m in 2:16.98. But the Romanian then faded dramatically as the tiny Moroccan Hasna Benhassi, tore into the lead, hitting 1200m in 3:25.73 and holding off the challenge of Russia's Natalya Gorelova on the last lap. Benhassi stopped the clock at 4:11.54 - a stride clear of Gorelova, with the Bulgarian Daniela Yordanova finishing third in 4:12.33. Nuria Fernandez (4:12.92) and Alesya Fernandez (4:13.15) earned qualification for the final as "fastest losers".