Here’s a tactical recap of the 1500m heats which ended a moment ago. It is based on the tactical guidebook I have published on this webpage.
Coneo set a fast pace in this heat. With the first 6 in each heat + 6 fastest times qualifying for the semifinals it seemed likely that a lot of athletes would go through from this heat. Consequently there wasn’t much tactics in this heat, but it was interesting to observe how closely packed the lead group staid until the final meters at such a fast pace. Rowbury and Johnson were boxed in throughout the sprint and Rowbury could easily have fallen out of the top six if Chepkwemoi had faded in the end. There was not much that Rowbury could have done differently in the sprint, but in the end the fast pace was fast enough to carry the entire lead group to the semifinals, even Coneo who fell behind in the sprint.
Hassan took a very passive strategy in this heat by moving directly to the back of the red queue in the start. Aregawi also started slowly but moved to the green queue instead, which is a better tactic for favorites. Simpson utilized her outside start position nicely to stay on the outside and find a place at the front of the green queue.
The jog stage was very unusual, as Tomasova went off one her own and Simpson decided not to follow her at the 300m mark. After that the main group ran its own race and Tomasova her own. Seyaum volunteered for pace-keeping duty in the main group and managed to pull away from the others in the sprint without any danger of boxing. However, she wasted a lot of energy in this heat, first by pace-keeping and then by running a pointless sprint against Hassan for first place. She may struggle in the semifinals tomorrow with no rest day in between.
Hassan waited until the 1200m mark before she made her move and this was clearly a wise tactic, as she easily overtook seven or eight opponents in the first sprint. Hassan will have to adopt a more active strategy in the semifinals when the competition is tougher.
It’s always interesting to see how an overwhelming favorite runs in the first round. Dibaba started with the same strategy as Hassan, deliberately taking the last position in the start. This might be the best way to stay of trouble if there’s any scuffling in the beginning. Dibaba then moved up to a good position in the green queue on the 600-700 straight, but failed to defend this position on the following 800-900 straight when Magnani overtook her. Dibaba then overtook Magnani in the 900-1000 bend to correct her mistake, and on the following 1000-1100 she paid closer attention when she stopped Terzic from overtaking her. Dibaba’s sprint was well-timed and secure, although a 59 second lap was clearly excessive in this round.
This was a moderately fast heat even before Dibaba took the lead, so there wasn’t much tactics involved for the other runners. Everyone had plenty of space in the sprint. Kipyegon probably used too much energy by running the second lap in lane 2, moving up to take the lead at 900m and then following Dibaba all the way on her final 59 second lap. Kipyegon will probably feel this in her legs tomorrow much more than Dibaba. Weightman ran a smarter sprint by letting Dibaba go and slowing down just enough to secure a place in the top six.