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TF PA’s Rowbury, SD’s Kovacs at World Champs – Report from Fred Baer

Read Fred's report below.

report from World Champs
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By Fred Baer

Shannon Rowbury hopes to cap a world and American record breaking season with a World Championship medal Tuesday evening in Beijing.

The San Francisco native out of Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep ran smart qualifying and semifinal races to reach the finals of the women’s 1,500 meters — Tuesday’s top women’s race.

Although Rowbury is in the medal hunt, the overwhelming favorite is new world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia.

Rowbury is very familiar with Dibaba, most recently setting the American record of 3 minutes, 56.29 seconds last month at a Diamond League race in Monaco — where Dibaba set the world record of 3:50.07. Rowbury finished third, finally erasing the 32-year-old U.S. (and North American) mark of 3:57.12 set by Mary Deck Slaney in 1983 (who was also world champion that season – a year before Rowbury was born).

In May, Rowbury ran the 1,600 meter anchor leg on a USA distance medley team which set a world record at the IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas. She started the year winning USA indoor championships in both the mile and two mile.

Rowbury also knows the Bird’s Next Stadium in Beijing, having placed seventh at the 2008 Olympic Games there (and was sixth, at London in 2012).

She conserved energy as much as possible through the rounds in Beijing so far, just running to qualify and stay out of trouble. “I now have two days to recover,” Rowbury said after placing fifth in her semifinal in 4:16.64. “We went out really slow and I was in front. There was a big move with a little over 400 to go. I was farther back than I would have liked to have been. I had to go pretty wide on the backstretch but I just kept building and kept myself clear. I just made sure to run through the line and get the automatic (qualifying) spot.”

This is the fourth world championships for Rowbury, a 2008 Duke grad. “The world’s can be tricky,” she said. “I didn’t make the finals in 2011.”

–Joe Kovacs won the USA’s only gold medal of the first three days of this year’s world championships, taking the shot put on Sunday night.
“I moved to San Diego and started working with coach Art Venegas,” said the Penn State grad.

Last month, also in Monaco, he had the world’s longest put in 12 years, 74 feet, 1/4 inch. Actually, eliminating drug-suspended marks, it was the best throw since 1989, and No. 7 all-time.

“It’s my first World Championships,” said Kovacs. “Just coming here was just finding a few things. I dealt with it in different ways. Coming in as the favorite, I think anyone in U.S. shot put kind of feels that. We’re always in the mix. It’s the first team I made and being in U.S. shot put, you kind of expect to be at the top. It was supposed to happen, I just had to make it happen.”