American Women Own the Middle Distances for 2014
Today’s 1500-meter race at the Zurich Diamond League has tipped the scale for American middle distance women. The ladies in Red White and Blue can justly claim to be the best in the world in the 800-1500 for 2014.
In Switzerland Jenny Simpson dove to the line to earn the win in the Diamond league final by a mere hundredth of a second over countrywoman Shannon Rowbury. This feat earned Jenny the overall Diamond League trophy, the accompanying $40,000, and an automatic entry into next year’s World Championships (meaning Team USA will have 4 women at next years World Championships). The race also adds to an amazing season for Shannon who bettered her personal bests at 1500m and 5000m and broke the American Record in the 2-mile.
Jenny and Shannon are running so well that it is easy to overlook women like Brenda Martinez who notched a solid 4:01.36 season best today. Brenda started the season well by anchoring USA teams to American records and gold and silver medals in the 4 X 800 and 4 X 1500 at the IAAF World Relays but has mostly flown under the radar since.
Equally impressive to the Americans’ success in the women’s 1500m is their American peer’s success in the 800m. Beginning with the indoor season where Chanelle Price won the World Indoor Championships in that event, American women have repeatedly held their own in the two-lap event this year.
Chanelle backed her indoor championship up with her second place finish in the Doha Diamond League event and her first ever sub 2-minute performance. Brenda Martinez was the next athlete to perform internationally with her own sub 2 minute 800 to win the Hangelo World Challenge meet in the Netherlands. Laura Roesler finished her dominant final collegiate year with a win at the NCAA championships and a second place at the USA Track and Field Championships. Beating Laura at those championships was the phenomenal 20-year-old Ajee Wilson.
Hindsight shows that Ajee Wilson’s win at the USA championships was only a tune-up for her race at the Monaco Diamond league a few weeks later. In Monaco, Ajee ran a world leading time of 1:57.67 to end Eunice Sum’s 14 win unbeaten streak.
So far there are 6 American women under 2 minutes for the 800 this year, 2 more than the next best country Russia, and there are several other Americans that have run 2:00 or 2:01. With the Diamond League final for the women’s 800m being held next week it will be interesting to see if any American women can mimic the success of Jenny Simpson with a win there. Either way, American success at next week’s 800m in Brussels would only add to the middle distance success that USA has seen this year, but after today, American’s have already done enough to claim dominance for the year.