Here’s a tactical recap of yesterday’s 1500m heats.
This was an interesting tactical race. Two favorites Willis and Kiprop start on the inside and run the first straight very slowly. It will be interesting to see how they work their way up from there. Somewhat surprisingly Centrowitz takes the lead at 300m. The camera did not capture why he took the lead but apparently the previous leader Hannes just moved very slowly.
Kiprop gets tired of jogging at 500m and moves up to take the lead. This changes the nature of this race because it’s pretty clear that having taken the lead now, he intends to keep it all the way to the finish. All athletes in the red queue are therefore in a good position now, although they still have to worry about which other opponents are ahead of them in the red queue.
Centrowitz holds the perfect position right behind Kiprop, but Hannes somehow manages to overtake him in the red queue on the 600-700 straight. Özbilen also has a great position just next to Kiprop. Several athletes seem anxious to start the surge in the green queue on the 800-900 straight, but nobody makes any decisive moves. Centrowitz is in trouble at the 1000m mark, stuck behind the underdog Hannes in lane 1. Willis is positioned even further back in the red queue where he’s been the entire race.
Several athletes start moving towards the front in the outside lanes. Kiprop’s notices this and accelerates markedly to prevent them from overtaking him. This quickly spreads out the athletes and gives Centrowitz and Willis a lot more room to sprint. In retrospect the athletes on the outside (Gebremedhin, O’Hare and Özbilen) may have done themselves a disservice by pushing the pace on the 1000-1100 straight. Without that push Kiprop probably would have ran the 1100-1200 bend more slowly, the group would have been much closer together on the back straight and Centrowitz and Willis would have had less time and room to sprint. These seasoned now easily catch up with the former outside runners who burned too much energy in their preparation for the sprint.
Not for the first time in his career Manzano is 10-15m behind the final qualifying spot at the 1400m mark but manages to close this gap on the final straight and move on to the final.
The second semifinal was clearly faster than the first and not very eventful from a tactical perspective. Amdouni moves up on the 400-500 straight, runs the 500-600 bend out in lane 2 and actually manages to sneak into first place in the red queue behind the Kenyans at the 600m mark as Makhloufi and Bustos for some reason leave a wide open gap in front of them. He remains in a good position to the end of the race but doesn’t have enough energy in the end.
After the 800m mark the outside runners build up the pressure on the outside and Makhloufi has to move outward in the 900-1000 bend to avoid being boxed. The pace then increases further on the 1000-1100 straight and the sprint is a straightforward competition with no additional tactics and enough room for everyone. It looks like it will be the Kenyans against Makhloufi in the final, Manangoi seems like a good rabbit for the first half of the race if he gets a good start and Kiprop will take over in the second half. The pace will probably be moderately fast and gradually increasing, so athletes in the red queue will have a good chance to succeed in the sprint. Makhloufi will of course stay in the green queue throughout the race and still produce a strong sprint. Centrowitz and Willis also have a chance, but they should preferably run most of the race in the red queue.