1 September 2011Daegu, Korea - An extraordinarily fluctuating women’s 1500m final, which saw Morgan Uceny of the United States and Kenya’s Hellen Obiri crash to the track as they came round the top bend for the second last time, finished with Jennifer Barringer-Simpson doing a passable impression of Kelly Holmes after the 2004 Olympic 800 metres – a wide-eyed, disbelieving winner.
Perhaps the 25-year-old, who stands only 20th in this year’s world lists, was still trying to credit how her wide run down the final straight had taken her from fourth to first in the space of 40 metres as she passed the woman who seemed destined to collect the title from which she was disqualified at the last World Championships, Natalia Rodriguez.
And the Spaniard had to settle for bronze as Britain’s Hannah England looked briefly as if she was going to overtake the overtaker, running even wider than the American to move from fifth to second in the closing stages.
As for the defending champion who was seeking a third successive title, Maryam Jamal of Bahrain – she faded away to last place, behind even the pair who had to pick themselves up and start again, finishing in 4:22.67. A little more than 22 seconds slower than the time she posted earlier this season to head the world lists.
England was already grinning broadly as she crossed the line in 4:05.68 ahead of Rodriguez, who clocked 4:05.87. But for the winner, who had clocked 4:05.40, realisation was delayed.
When it arrived, she bounced up and down like Tigger before hugging the nearby Btissam Lakhouad. The Moroccan must have been disappointed to have missed the podium by one place by finishing in 4:06.18, but she shared the glee with the American, who finished fifth at the last World Championships – in the steeplechase.
Even the official mascot got a proper hug from Barringer Simpson. But then you would expect that from an American.
It was a finale that you could not have predicted. Everything had looked under control for the defending champion, who reached the bell in second place, tracking her fellow countrywoman, Mimi Belete, who eventually finished seventh in 4:07.60.
By then the field had sorted itself out after concertinaing around the top bend on the last but one lap, a circumstance which saw the Kenyan go down first amid a tangle of legs, with Uceny helpless to prevent herself flying over the body in front of her.
Both got up gamely to finish, with Uceny clocking 4:19.71 in 10th place, and Obiri 4:20.23 in 11th. Comfortably ahead of the defending champion.
Over the final lap, however, Jamal went backwards and Rodriguez moved tigerishly into the lead, as she had said she would. By the time she was halfway down the straight, victory was in sight – but Barringer-Simpson and England were on their way…
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF