In 2013 the 1500m belonged to Sweden’s Abeba Aregawi who won all her races both indoors and outdoors. She continued her winning ways through the start of 2014, winning the world indoor title by more than six seconds and her first race of the outdoor season in Shanghai.
But nothing lasts forever and in Eugene two weeks later she lost to Kenya’s Hellen Obiri; not because Aregawi had a bad race, but because Obiri had raised her game to run 3:57.05. More significantly, though, it showed that Aregawi was vulnerable.
In Aregawi’s next outing in New York two weeks later, she had to dig deep to catch the fearless newcomer Dawit Seyaum – then still only 17 – who didn’t succumb until the closing metres. Seyaum, who just one week earlier had clocked a national junior record of 3:59.53 in Marrakech, looks very much like Ethiopia’s next great athlete in this event.
From July onwards, Aregawi – clearly hampered by a leg injury – didn’t win another race. The No. 1 position was instead assumed by Netherland’s Sifan Hassan who won in Paris in a world-leading 3:57.00, and then in Glasgow and at the European Championships.
But finishing the year on top was USA’s Jennifer Simpson who triumphed both in Stockholm and in Zurich. Simpson’s trademark is her competitive consistency; she is always there when it really matters.
In terms of standards, the 1500m was an event on the rise in 2014. The fifth-place mark of 3:58.01 on the world list was the fastest since 1997.
Prepared by A Lennart Julin for IAAF.org