Saturday, 15 August 2009

Event Report - Women's 3000m Steeplechase - Heats

Gulnara Galkina of Russia streaks ahead in the women's 3000 Metres Steeplechase Heat  (Getty Images)

Gulnara Galkina of Russia streaks ahead in the women's 3000 Metres Steeplechase Heat (Getty Images)

Heat one of the women’s 3000m Steeplechase featured Olympic champion Gulnara Galkina, as she embarks on her mission to win her first world title. She sent a clear message of ‘come get me’ to her rivals as she adopted her usual tactic of leading from the start.

The world record-holder put in a first kilometre of 3:08.27, during which Sudan’s Durka Mana fell in the water jump and faded to the back, where she remained for the majority of the race. Meanwhile, Portugal’s Jessica Augusto and Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa set off in pursuit of Galkina.

The tall Russian then cranked up the pace with a second kilometre split of 3:02.89 as the field became more strung out. All the while, German hope Antje Möldner was running a tactically astute race in the middle of the pack.

At the bell – which Galkina reached in 8:04.78 – Assefa moved up to Augusto’s shoulder, while Möldner moved up into fourth, an automatic qualifying position, much to the delight of the home crowd.

With 200m to go, Galkina was away and clear, while her chasers had drawn level with each other. Galkina clocked 9:17.67 to book her place in the final, but it was Möldner who prevailed in the chase behind and she was rewarded with a time of 9:21.73, a big improvement on her German record. Assefa was third, while Augusto faded to sixth. Kenya’s Milcah Chemos was the fourth automatic qualifier, with Spain’s Eva Arias clocking a PB of 9:25.14 in fifth.

The second heat was a much closer affair, with the lead changing hands quite often. USA’s Jenny Barringer took the early lead and led through the first kilometre in 3:09.11, with the majority of the field still in close contact.

Russian champion Yuliya Zarudneva took up the pace momentarily, but unlike the first heat, the athletes were still bunched relatively close together. Barringer and Tunisia’s Habiba Ghribi were still right behind, with several others poised to pounce. At the bell there were still several athletes in contention, but it was Ghribi who succeeded, powering away from the final obstacle to clock 9:26.40, looking like there was plenty more in the tank, with Zarudneva second in 9:26.64.

Barringer came through strong at the end in 9:26.81 and Poland’s Katarzyna Kowalska set a PB to finish fourth in 9:26.93 to progress, with world junior record-holder Ruth Bisibori in fifth (9:27.04). Sara Moreira’s PB of 9:28.64 in sixth has the unfortunate accolade of being the fastest time ever to not make a global championship final.

In the third heat, world leader Marta Dominguez ran a more shrewd race than co-favourite Galkina, and although fastest loser spots were still up for grabs, it ended up being the slowest heat of the three. Defending champion Yekaterina Volkova took the field through the first kilometre in 3:09.60, but Kenya’s former World junior champion Gladys Kipkemboi took the lead soon after, with Dominguez in contention the whole time.

Ethiopia’s Zemzem Ahmed began to challenge Kipkemboi on the final lap and they enjoyed a good tussle in the home straight to cross the line in identical times of 9:29.36. Sophie Duarte came through in third, while Dominguez ensured she spent no extra energy than was required as she jogged across the line in fourth.

Volkova was the biggest casualty, however. The only athlete to have won medals in all global championships so far, the Russian will not be able to extend that accolade as she finished a distant seventh in 9:43.52.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF