Olympic champion Nancy Jebet Langat takes a surprise win in the women's 1500m (Getty Images) © Copyright
“To be honest, I didn’t expect to win,” said Langat, who took advantage of the sluggish pace to collect her first win in eight outings over the distance. “The race had a very slow tempo which was an advantage for me.”
Dawdling paces were the order of the day in the first two middle or long distance events on the programme, and that trend continued in the women’s 1500m. With no one forcing the pace or making a move, the tightly wound pack took more than 73 seconds to cover the first lap, and nearly 75 to cover the second.
Ethiopian Geleta Burka, who was famously knocked to the ground and out of contention in the World Championships final, made the first move when she jumped to the lead about 900 metres into the race, taking the bell in 3:14.85. But she didn’t really manage to break away from anyone, with World champion Maryam Jamal of Bahrain shadowing her closely and Russian Anna Alminova just another step behind.
Burka still led midway through the final turn, but with plenty in reserve, others positioned themselves to stake their claims for the podium.
Finishing strongest was the Olympic champion who passed by the Ethiopian on the inside to reach the line unchallenged in 4:13.63. With much of the field running in lanes two, three and four, Briton Hannah England found an opening on the inside to finish a surprise second (4:14.05), just edging American Christin Wurth-Thomas. It was certainly the highest profile finish for the 22-year-old England, who improved to 4:04.29 this season.
Meanwhile, Jamal, who came to Thessaloniki with four straight WAF titles under her belt, faded to fourth in 4:14.12, with American Shannon Rowbury, the Berlin bronze medallist fifth (4:14.18).
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF