Sunday, August 23, 2009
Pushing, shoving, elbowing, tripping. What, you didn't know that track is a contact sport? If you didn't, then Sunday's women's 1500 meter finals in Berlin proved that middle distance running is often not a polite affair.
In the course of this finals race in the 1500, an Ethiopian front runner was felled by a Spaniard, who went on to win, only to be disqualified. However, it was a positive twist of fate for American Shannon Rowbury, who moved up in the ranks from fourth to bronze medalist.
Rowbury's achievement shouldn't be underestimated. She was the highest placing American distance runner at the Berlin Championships, as well as the highest placement for a US female distance runner in 10 years. She was also the highest placing American born distance runner at the event, with Kenyan-born American runner Bernard Legat taking silver in the men's 5000 meters.
San Francisco-born Rowbury was just a step behind Britain's Lisa Dobriskey, and a second behind gold medalist Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain.
According to the American track federations, the USATF: "For the first time ever, three U.S. women (Christin Wurth-Thomas, Shannon Rowbury & Anna Willard) finished in the top ten in the women's 1,500 meters.-Shannon Rowbury's bronze medal win in the women's 1,500m final is the highest finish by an American since Regina Jacobs won the silver medal in 1999."
So hats off to the Bay Area's medal winner Rowbury. She survived a fall in her preliminary race, only to to benefit from one in her final. But throughout she showed class, poise, excellent racing skills and her patented kick in the final 150 meters. Rowbury is one to watch, as we watch the elbows fly in future middle distance races.