When a 37yearold Regina Jacobs finished a desultory 12th and last in the women's 3000 at the 2001 edition of the World Indoor Championships, nobody would have been blamed had they said her window of success had come and gone.
The American veteran defied conventional wisdom repeatedly this season, however, not only running better than ever, but also doing it at a shorter distance at an age when most are moving up.
Six weeks ago she became the first woman ever to break the 1500's 4-minute barrier indoors, running 3:59.98 in Boston. Then she won a 1500/3000 double at the U.S. Championships. Choosing to run only the shorter distance in Birmingham, she was content to follow Natalya Gorelova for the better part of 5 laps.
The Russian split 30.96, 1:02.71, 1:35.44 and 2:08.80 before giving way to Jacobs (2:42.65) at the kilometer post.
From there the WR holder was never headed, reaching the subsequent lap markers in 3:15.22 and 3:45.92. From there she would need a stiff 14.05 to break her World Record. That wasn't possible, but her 15.75 was enough for a new Championships Record and a win by almost exactly a second over Kelly Holmes of Britain, 4:01.67–4:02.66.
Russia's Yekaterina Rozenberg had been closest to Jacobs as the last lap began, but former 800 star Holmes had the better speed in the final 200 as she lowered the Commonwealth Record by more than 4 seconds. Rozenberg finished in 4:02.80 as the fading Gorelova ended up 4th in 4:06.18.
Said Jacobs, whose time rated as the No. 6 performance in indoor history, "Despite being an old lady now, my heart is still strong and that keeps my body strong. It is all about determination."