The wild and crazy men’s1500m at Tokyo Olympics
In heat one Belgium’s Ismael Debjani won to be fastest overall in 3:36.00 with a 53.4 last lap, just ahead of world champion Timothy Cheruiyot (3:36.01), Oliver Hoare (3:36.09), US trials winner Cole Hocker (3:36.16), Abdelatif Sadiki (3:36.23) and Michal Rozmys (3:36.28) who qualified automatically.
Rozmys had been six tenths of a second behind Kerr as he hit the straight but ran a 12.9 last 100m to the Scot’s 13.5 to catch him on the line, meaning the British champion missed out on automatic qualification by one hundredth of a second as he struggled in the closing stages.
Kerr said: “I was really frustrated with my positioning and there was some shoving and I made a hard move at 500m to go. Then, at 200m to go, I felt I was going to pay for this in the home stretch. I was just trying to stay focused and push all the way, but it just wasn’t a good run for me. I am fit and ready and I have had no problems. There are just no excuses for that. I just raced it badly.”
Kerr must have been relieved as heat two was run at nowhere near the same pace. The field ambled through 400m in 62.4 and 800m in 2:02.9, only really coming to life on the last lap as Kenyan Abel Kipsang covered it in 52.8 to win in 3:40.68.
Second was defending champion Matt Centrowitz (3:41.12), just ahead of Wightman (3:41.18) who ran his last 400m in 53.2 and 200m in 26.3. Also qualifying easily were Azeddine Habz (3:41.24), Samuel Zeleke (3:41.63) and Charles Grethen (3:41.92).
Marcin Lewandowski fell on the last lap and he jogged home but was added to the qualifiers by the judges after the event.
Wightman said: “It’s the most nerve-racking round, isn’t it? You’re worried you’re going to be embarrassed. I’m glad I managed to stay on my feet and get through. I had a smooth enough ride. I think I got a spike wound, had a few pushes but there was the fall which I’m glad I didn’t even notice until the end.
“The heats are the worst, because you’ve come all this way and no-one wants to get knocked out in the heat or expects to get knocked out in the heat, so you just want to get past and know how you are running to get through to the semi-final.”
The third heat was faster but, with six fastest loser spots, it did mean there would have to be 12 quicker than 3:36.29 for Kerr to exit and, in the end, there were only two.
The first lap was a slow 61.7 before Stewart McSweyn kicked on. The Australian completed the second lap in a lively 56.9 and the third in a top class 55.1, with only Heyward still in contact as the pair went through 1200m in 2:53.7 and 2:53.9, holding a big gap over the pack led by Robert Farken in 2:55.1.
Heyward passed McSweyn in the straight and won clearly in 3:36.14, having eased around his last lap in 55.9 and covered his last 1200m inside 2:50. Ethiopia’s Tedesse Lemi, who had been 12th at the bell, ran a 53.9 last lap to finish second in 3:36.26 and he had covered his last 1200m in 2:48.9.
McSweyn (3:36.39), Jakob Ingebrigtsen (an anonymous 3:36.49), Farken (3:36.71) and Adel Mechaal (3:36.74) completed the automatic qualifiers.
Double Olympic medallist Nick Willis (3:36.88), Andrew Coscoran (3:37.11), Ayanleh Souleiman (3:37.25) and Kenyan trials winner Charles Simotwo (3:37.26) qualified by time as they joined Kerr and Ignacio Fontes (3:36.95) as fastest losers.
Soufiane El Bakkali, who won the 3000m steeplechase title the previous day, was in contention until 200m to go but pulled out.
Heyward said: “I don’t think it could have gone much better. Safely through, that’s the main thing. You have to have a few scenarios, you have to be versatile. It could be fast, could be slow, so you’ve got to be ready for that. I think I always give my best performances in championships and I hope that showed a glimpse of what I can do.
“You can’t take anything for granted at the Olympics, you’ve got to be prepared for anything, and I was prepared to run super hard today, so that was my mindset going in. Luckily because I didn’t have to run that hard it felt quite comfortable, so it was good.”
posted Tuesday August 3rd
by Athletics Weekly