World taking notice as Uceny tops field at Birmingham
Another big race, another big victory for Plymouth grad Morgan Uceny.
And now, the rest of the world is taking notice.
On Sunday, Uceny clocked 4:05.64 to win the women’s 1500-meter run at a Diamond League track meet in Birmingham, England.
For the second time in 10 days, Uceny defeated two-time defending world champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the world by the track and field website All-athletics.com. For good measure, Uceny also beat Olympic finalist Lisa Dobriskey of England, runner-up at the last world championship meet and currently ranked No. 9.
As she did 10 days earlier at a meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, Uceny ran just behind the leaders for three laps, then powered away over the final 200 to win by a surprisingly large margin.
“It looks too, too easy for this American,” stated the British television announcer following Sunday’s race.
In the meet at Lausanne, Uceny not only whipped Jamal, but she pulled away from Olympic finalist Anna Mishchenko of the Ukraine, ranked No. 4 in the world. It wasn’t even close.
Sunday’s race was highly tactical, with the field moving slowly through the first half and then sprinting hard on the last lap.
“It’s a good (confidence boost), because usually that’s the kind of strategy I’m bad at,” said Uceny in an interview on the Flotrack.org following Sunday’s victory. “The kind of race that goes out fast and stays hard, that’s more my comfort zone. Being able to do these types of (tactical) races, I don’t feel I have the weaknesses that I used to. Any race situation, I feel I can handle.”
Uceny, who just won her first U.S. Outdoor championship on June 25, is now being listed on some track Websites as a serious contender to win the women’s 1500-meter at the World Championship meet in Daegu, Korea, next month.
She has steadily moved up in the world rankings since winning her U.S. title. Last week, she was ranked No. 5 in the world in the 1500 and No. 10 in the 800, and her recent victories have allowed her to take sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the Diamond League 1500-meter standings.
The Diamond League is track and field’s version of, say, the NASCAR circuit in the U.S. with athletes competing in several meets around the world and earning points for their performances. At the end of the season, the number one finisher in each event earns $40,000.
With two 1500 races remaining — in Monaco July 22 and Brussels September 16 — Uceny has 10 points and a solid lead over Mishchenko, who has six.
Uceny, a Cornell University graduate, was the 2002 Indiana high school state champ in the girls 800-meter run as a junior at Plymouth High School.