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Can Beclea-Szekely Do It Again?

Can BecleaSzekely Do It Again?
11 June 2002 - Continuing our event-by-event analysis of the 2002 edition of the Golden League, we focus at likely contenders in the women’s 1500m.

The question on everyone’s mind is whether Violeta Beclea-Szekely (ROM) can be as dominant on the GL circuit in 2002 as she was last year.

In 2001, Beclea-Szekely needed to win in 5 out of 7 Golden League meetings to qualify for a share of the IAAF Jackpot, but won all of them. She even won the 1500m at the Grand Prix Final in Melbourne and at the Goodwill Games. Indeed, the only blemish on her otherwise faultless season, was losing to her great rival Gabriela Szabo at the IAAF World Championships in Edmonton. Szekely won all her other 12 races at 1500m or Mile. As a result, she not only won a share of the GL Jackpot but also secured the Overall Grand Prix title.

Beclea-Szekely has not yet raced this year, indoors or outdoors, and a number of other leading contenders in this event have also been quiet.  Russia’s Natalya Gorelova – who was the perennial pace-maker and runner-up on the GL circuit last year – has not raced yet. Neither has the 1997 World Champion Carla Sacramento while US star Suzy Favor-Hamilton has raced at 3000m, clocking a useful 8:56:03, to show that she has recovered from the injury problems that dogged her in 2001.

Favor-Hamilton was in good form during the 2000 Golden League, winning emphatically at the Bislett Games in Oslo with 3:57.40, which was the fastest time in the world that year. Favor-Hamilton was also the fastest American in 2001 with 4:00.38 – set at the Herculis Golden League meeting – and has built up her strength with cross country and over-distance racing in preparation for a campaign to break Mary Slaney’s US 1500m record of 3:57.12, which dates back to 1983!

Another athlete to watch will be Britain’s Kelly Holmes, who has also suffered from injuries in recent years. She ran the 1996 Olympic Games with a stress fracture and was forced to pull out of the 1997 World Championships. Back in 1995 she won a silver in the 1500m and a bronze in the 800m and just 2 years ago, she was third in the Olympic 800m final despite having had virtually no competitions leading up to the Games. Currently, Holmes is top of the 2002 outdoor lists with 4:03.93 – a time she set at Hengelo on 2 June – and if she stays injury-free, will be a leading contender for honours.

IAAF World Rankings for 1500m/Mile as at 11 June

1    Violeta     BECLEA-SZEKELY    ROM        1398 points
2    Natalya    GORELOVA               RUS        1362 points
3    Carla        SACRAMENTO          POR        1353 points
4    Suzy        HAMILTON-FAVOR     USA        1317 points
5    Lidia        CHOJECKA                 POL        1311 points