DAEGU, South Korea — Morgan Uceny needed only to advance from her qualifying heat at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships.
So she did.
Uceny, a 2003 Plymouth High School graduate, ran conservatively and settled for a third-place finish in the third of three preliminary races as she began her quest to win a gold medal in the women’s 1500-meter run Saturday night.
Now, it’s on to the semifinals, scheduled at 7:35 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday at Daegu Stadium in Daegu, South Korea.
The first six finishers in each heat Saturday automatically advanced to the semis. So, Uceny wasn’t worried about winning. She just needed to move on, which she did easily, clocking 4:07.43.
“I feel good. It’s been a long time since I’ve raced, since Monaco so it feels like it’s been forever,” she said in a post-race interview for Flotrack.org. “Even though you have good training you just never know how it’s going to feel when you’re actually in a race situation so it always feels hard, but a 4:07 is not an easy thing to run. I was just happy that I executed well. I got out in the back but kept my head and moved around as necessary and was able to come home making sure I wasn’t racing a final 100 meters, but just trying to ease up and be comfortable.”
Ironically, Uceny was seeded into the same heat as defending champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain, who finished first in 4:07.04. Jamal is ranked No. 1 in the world, Uceny No. 2. That same pair could possibly square off again for the world title on Thursday.
In all, 24 runners advanced to the 1500-meter semis. Two other Americans — Shannon Rowbury and Jennifer Barringer Simpson — are included in the group.
Sports Editor James Costello contributed to this report.