Simpson on track for race towards Olympic gold

Simpson on track for race towards Olympic gold
Former 1,500m world champion Jenny Simpson leading a group of local runners on a jog around the Kallang Practice Track at the Sports Hub on 1 October 2014.

SINGAPORE - American athlete Jenny Simpson knows she cannot outrun father time and that the 2016 Rio Games will likely provide her with a final shot at winning an Olympic medal.

The 2011 world champion in the women's 1,500m - who turns 30 in two years - came up short in the last two Olympics in 2008 (in the 3,000m steeple-chase) and 2012 (in the 1,500m).

"As you get older, you recognise that, at some point, your career is going to come to an end," Simpson said. "Thirty years old is a prime age for women in middle-distance running so I'm hoping the 2016 Olympics will be my best one yet.

"While that is a great prospect, it is also intimidating because this might be my last chance to really get an Olympic medal at the 1,500m race.

"I'll be 34 the next time the Olympics come around in 2020 and I don't know if I'll be at my best for the 1,500m race anymore then."

The Colorado native is in town on the second stop of a three-city Asian tour which started in Hong Kong and will end in Tokyo. It is organised by her sponsor, sports apparel maker New Balance.

Yesterday, she held a dialogue with about 30 local runners at the Singapore Sports Institute before conducting a running clinic at the Kallang Practice Track.

Simpson has had her share of heartbreak and described her outing at the 2012 London Games as shameful after she failed to even qualify for the 1,500m final.

She said she has reason to feel optimistic going forward.

She had a successful 2014 season where she won the 14-leg IAAF Diamond League and was within a tenth of a second of breaking the American women's 1,500m record (3min 57.12sec) set by Mary Slaney in 1983.

She also secured a silver at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia.

"There are legends who have come before me and I keep dreaming and imagining that I can be as good or even better than them - and coming close to (Slaney's) record is an example (of how I keep myself going)," said Simpson.

"The world championships' win in 2011 was important and it validates me but not having broken the record and a medal from the Olympics makes me want more.

"Those are things that will make all the training and sacrifices worth it - and I want to get them.

To come home with a medal is the least I hope for but, of course, a gold one will be the best."

This article was first published on October 2, 2014.
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