16 JUL 2004 General News The two semi

Women's 1500m - semi-finals

finals of the 1500m saw the favourites advance, with the second heat offering a better spectacle, mainly thanks to Germany’s Stephanie Thieke, who decided to make sure of her own qualification to the final with a fast time.

After a slow opening lap, reached in 1:08.17 by a tightly bunched pack led by Sarah Bowman (USA), the tall German began to stretch out the field, tracked by the Ukrainian Nelya Neporadna and Nicolene Van Rooyen of South Africa, going through 800m in 2:19.97.

With 500m left, Van Rooyen sprinted into the lead, hitting the bell in 3:12.98, but on the last lap, she was overtaken by Neporadna, who came home first in 4:16.54. Close behind her was the Algerian Chahrazad Cheboub, who set a new national junior record of 4:16.97.

Van Rooyen set a personal best in third with 4:17.83, as did the fast finishing Pole Marta Wojtkunska to claim the last automatic qualifying place in 4:17.87. Thieke hung on to finish fifth, and was rewarded with a new personal best of 4:18.42 to advance as a fastest loser.

The next three finishers, Jelena Stina of Latvia, Ayako Uchino of Japan and Naomi Kipkemboi of Kenya, also set personal bests that were good enough to advance them to the final.

The first heat was a more tactical affair, and none of the athletes were able to set either personal bests or new national junior records.  The field stayed bunched, with Kenya’s Joyce Jepkosgei Musungo and Siham Hilali of Morocco, the fastest in the field on paper, leading the field through 400m in 1:18.05 and 800m in 2:30.64.

The first significant break came when the Chinese athlete Zhenzhu Li surged with 600m to go, chased by Hilali, with the bell reached in 3:21.59, and the Moroccan regaining the lead down the back straight.

But then, Russia’s Anna Alminova began to move up the field, and passed the Moroccan with 200m to go, opening up a significant lead. She crossed the line in 4:24.43, with Hilali finishing in 4:25.73.

Britain’s Danielle Barnes, wearing Paula Radcliffe style long socks, and the 17 year-old Australian Simpson Brooke, came through strongly in the last 100 metres to take the last qualifying spots with 4:26.16 and 4:26.56 respectively.