Jenny Simpson Gets Final Olympic Test

Jenny Simpson makes her final preparations for London tomorrow in Monaco. Photo: PhotoRun.net

The world champion squares off against fellow Americans Shannon Rowbury and Julie Culley.

(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

World 1500m champion Jenny Simpson said that she’s racing Friday’s 3000m event at the Herculis meeting in Monaco, part of the 2012 Samsung Diamond League, mostly for love.

“I don’t know if the 3K tells me really anything specifically about what I’m ready to do in the fifteen, but I have in the past done 800′s leading up to 1500 meters,” Simpson told Race Results Weekly via Skype.  “And this year, since the 3K was available, it’s a distance I really enjoy.  I like doing over-distance training, and I just thought it was something that was really exciting, and something that would give me a lot of personal satisfaction and confidence.  So, sometimes I think it’s important to remember that sometimes we just have to race because we love it, and enjoy it.”

Simpson, 25, from Monument, Colo., has had an uneven outdoor season this year, and has yet to run a truly fast 1500m.  Her season’s best of 4:05.17 came in the final of the USA Olympic Trials in Eugene earlier this month where she finished third and qualified for her second Olympic team.  Simpson had hoped that her race at the Aviva London Grand Prix last Friday would have been a quick one, but cold, rainy and windy conditions made that impossible.  Simpson said she made the best of it.

“I felt really confident about the London race because I did think this was an opportunity that we would run harder, and run a faster time,” she said.  “When we stepped out on the track I realized how cold and how windy it had become within the hour that we were warming up and getting ready.  I think I knew deep down inside that this was not a day that anyone was going to take the pace.”

Simpson, who nearly caught two-time world champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain in the final push to the tape, immediately changed her approach to the race, seeing a chance to sharpen further her racing skills.

“So, when the gun went off, I found myself kind of up front, I figured that this was a really good opportunity for me to show that I really do have a lot of control even when I’m up front, and I don’t have to sit in the back and wait for other people to move,” she explained. “So, I felt really good about how I managed myself through the beginning and middle of the race, and then the kick was just a really nice finish.”

Simpson clocked 4:07.76, just 2/100ths behind Jamal.

On Friday, in Monaco’s Stade Louis II, Simpson will race against Olympic teammates Shannon Rowbury and Julie Culley, two-time world championships silver medalist Sylvia Kibet of Kenya, and two-time Asian Games medalist Mimi Belete of Bahrain.  Simpson set her personal best at the distance indoors back in 2009 when she won the NCAA title in 8:42.03.  She may well improve on that time tomorrow.

“I definitely wanted an opportunity to run really fast, especially before the Games, and just try to see where my upper end was,” Simpson reasoned.  “That was probably what the purpose of Monaco served for me last year (she ran the 1500m in 4:03.54, placing fifth).  I came here and was able to run in a really fast race right before the World Championships.  But, in a way, I do think that the 3K does serve that purpose. It’s going to be hard, and even if it doesn’t go fast from the gun, it’s going to be a really difficult pace to maintain for twice the distance.  Whether it starts out slow or not, I know this race is going to get going.  So, no real fast 1500′s going into the championships is not ideal, but I think my that competitive spirit really outweighs the disadvantages of not having a fast race.”

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