The 2013-2016 IAAF Strategic Plan has six Core Values: universality, leadership, unity, excellence, integrity and solidarity, and a Vision Statement: “To lead, govern and develop the sport of athletics in all its forms worldwide, uniting the Athletics Family in a spirit of excellence, integrity and solidarity.”
Injury ended Genzebe Dibaba’s quest to join her older sister Tirunesh as an Olympic champion in the opening round of the women’s 1500m today at Olympic Stadium.
Dibaba, this year’s World indoor champion over the distance and among the favourites in London, was hit by a hamstring injury during the final lap of the third of three heats, and essentially succumbed with about 150 metres to go. When she eventually reached the finish line, she dropped to the track clutching her left hamstring. She later needed assistance to leave the track.
With the first six across the line – plus the next six fastest – moving on to Wednesday evening’s semi-finals, tactical and physical races with mad dashes for the finish were expected to be the order of the day. And they were.
Turkey’s Gamze Bulut, the European silver medallist who celebrated her 20th birthday three days ago, pulled away from the pack off the final turn to win the heat in 4:06.69, with the next four – Morgan Uceny of the U.S., Natallia Kareiva of Belarus, Russian Ekaterina Kostetskaya and Mimi Belete of Bahrain – crossing the line within 0.14sec of each other. 21-year-old Briton Laura Weightman, who is coached by Steve Cram, closed well to take the sixth automatic spot.
The first heat was the fastest and featured the same furious finish. This year’s Ethiopian revelation, Abeba Aregawi, decided to avoid any potential problems and ran away from the pack over the final 80 metres to win in 4:04.55, with Russian Tatyana Tomashova, who controlled most of the race, holding on for second in 4:05.10. Two-time World champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal was next trailed by Kenyan Hellen Obiri, Britain’s 2011 World silver medallist Hannah England, and Canadian Hilary Stellingwerff, all in under 4:06.
The next four – USA’s Shannon Rowbury, New Zealander Lucy van Dalen, Slovak Lucia Klocova (4:07.79 NR) and German Corinna Harrer all advanced on time.
The second was the most sluggish and as such claimed the most casualties. Here it was Briton Lisa Dobriskey (4:13.32) who took the win over Moroccan Siham Hilali and Turkey’s World leader Asli Cakir Alptekin, 4:13.34 to 4:13.64 respectively, with Nuria Fernandez of Spain, Kaila McKnight of Australia and American Jenny Simpson winning the tussle for the remaining three spots. It was near disaster for Simpson, the reigning World champion, who edged Russian Ekaterina Martynova by just 0.05 for the final spot.
"It was lovely," said Dobriskey, thinking back to her subpar performance at last year’s World Championships where she failed to advance from the heats. "I had to bury some demons from last year in Daegu. I have been really doubting my speed and kick and having a slow race today I was terrified. So I was really pleased with my performance."
Simpson wasn’t nearly as pleased.
"It's definitely not OK," the American said, noting that this race marked the first time she dipped at the line. "How can I have made this big mistake? I made it in (to the semi-final), so I just about got away with it. I was running really comfortably but I really underestimated. It was a dumb thing to do."