Finally, here are tactical analyses of last weekend’s finals.
Based on the heats I expected to this to be a very fast and non-tactical race, but it was actually slower than expected. Bishop probably makes a tactical error on the 300-400 straight when she lets Lamote overtake her without any resistance. It is an understandable error. Bishop was probably expecting Sum to start very fast, and indeed she did run the first 200m in just over 27 seconds. But Sum then slowed down the pace and the second 200m took 32 seconds. Bishops fails to read this pace change and stays in the inside lane. She should probably have moved up next to Arzamasova to discourage Lamote from going past. This would have allowed her to stay closer to Arzamasova in the sprint.
Positions remain unchanged all the way to the 600m mark. Bishop remains in a partly boxed position until final sprint and seems to be losing out, but then Arzamasova suddenly gives her a free route on the inside, a huge tactical error by the eventual world champion. Bishop comes close to winning the race but is unable to capitalize on this mistake.
As I expected the other Kenyans take the lead in the start while Kiprop stays at the back. The pace isn’t fast by any means but everyone remains content with their positions up to the 800m mark when Centrowitz finds a way out of the red queue and moves into green position. Other athletes follow him on the outside but the pace remains slow to 1000m.
Most athletes probably expected Kiprop to move towards the front at this point, but he remains at the back of the group. Iguider and Makhloufi both move up on the outside while Manangoi successfully defends his lead position against Centrowitz’s challenge. At 1100m Centrowitz looks set for a medal. Iguider and Makhloufi are also in great position, although they have ran much of the race out in lane 2. Kiprop is in bad position behind the entire group and has left himself a lot of work to do in the final lap.
Centrowitz begins to fade on the back straight and inhibits other the athletes behind him from sprinting effectively, although Manangoi and Kiplagat both manage to escape on the inside before Centrowitz blocks it. Makhloufi leads the sprint from the green queue while Kiprop comes storming from the back. The final straight is a classic battle where no tactical moves are needed.
Most of the finalists seemed to be worn out from the heats and semifinals since they ran out of energy pretty quickly in the sprint. This made it fairly easy for Kiprop to overtake them all on the 1200-1300 straight. Kiprop was so much better than everyone else that he had much room for error and probably could have won this race with several different strategies.