Women’s Running Bracket: Tracksters, Round One


A few contenders. (From left: Zola Budd; Wang Junxia; Meseret Defar; Fanny Blankers-Koen and Sanya Richards-Ross)
A few contenders. (From left: Zola Budd; Wang Junxia; Meseret Defar; Fanny Blankers-Koen and Sanya Richards-Ross)

Next, we have the tracksters. These ladies’ specialties range from super short to the 10,000 meters, but no matter how far they like to run, these ladies are the speediest! Which queens of the squishy oval will advance to Round 2?

Shalane Flanagan vs. Mary Decker Slaney

Shalane Flanagan is the American record holder in the 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 meter races. She won the 2008 Olympic Bronze in the 10,000 meters and holds several U.S. national track championships.

Mary Decker Slaney, at her peak, set 6 world track records ranging from the mile to the 10,000 meters. She famously fell after a collision with fellow bracket competitor, Zola Budd in the 1984 Olympic 3,000 meters. In 1996, at the age of 37, she qualified for the 5,000 at the Atlanta games, but tested positive for testosterone. She maintains her innocence to this day.

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Wang Junxia vs. Francie Larrieu Smith

Wang Junxia is the first woman to ever go sub-30 in the 10,000. She set a 42 second world record with a time of 29:31.78 at the 1993 at the Chinese National Games. She won the 10,000 meter silver at the 1996 Olympic games.

Francie Larrieu Smith was only the second woman ever to qualify for 5 U.S. Olympic teams. Beginning at the age of 17, in 1970, she won 21 national championships and set 13 world indoor records and 35 American records in her career.

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Lynn Jennings vs. Gail Devers

Lynn Jennings was the first American woman to win a long distance Olympic track medal with her 10,000 meter bronze in 1992. She also formerly held the indoor 5,000 meter world record and still holds the American road 10,000 record.

Gail Devers overcame Graves disease and the treatment for it which almost caused the amputation of her feet! She bounced back and won the silver medal in the 100 m hurdles the following year, before going on to win gold in the event in both the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.

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Florence Griffith Joyner vs. Fanny Blankers-Koen

Flo-Jo is well known for her flamboyant racing outfits and long decorated nails, but she was one badass on the track! She won Olympic gold in 1988 in the 100m, 200m and the 4 x 100m relay. There were rumors that she doped, but she never tested positive even though put through rigorous testing in 1988.

Fanny Blankers-Koen was theย most successful athlete at the 1948 Olympics winning 4 gold medals (100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and the 4 x 100m relay). Not only did she do that, but she was a 30 year-old mother of two at the time, which earned her the nickname, “The Flying Housewife.”

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Jackie Joyner Kersee vs. Zola Budd

Only rivaling Babe Didrickson for the best all-around athlete in the competition, Jackie Joyner Kersee is best known for her Olympic Golds in the Heptathlon (1988 and 1992) and the long jump (1988). She also won Silver in the heptathlon in 1984 and Bronze in the long jump in 1992 and 1996.

Zola Budd is best known for her tangle with Mary Decker Slaney in the 1984 Olympic 3,000m where she came in 7th after falling to the track. She is also known for her barefoot training and racing. She first broke the 5,000m world record with a 15:01.83 at the age of 17! She went on to break it again a few years later, running 14:48.07, which broke the old record by over 10 seconds!

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Lashinda Demus vs. Meseret Defar

Lashinda Demus is the 2011 World Champion 400m hurdler and the 2012 Olympic silver medalist in the event. She holds the American record and the third fastest time in history!

Meseret Defar might be the all-time best 5,000 meter runner, winning the Olympic gold in the event in both 2004 and 2012. She also won Bronze in 2008. She also holds multiple world championships and has set the world record in the 5,000 two times. Her personal best of 14:12.88 is nothing short of astonishingly fast! She still holds the two-mile world record and the indoor world records for the 3,000 and 5,000 meter races.

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Suzy Favor Hamilton vs. Sanya Richards-Ross

Suzy Favor Hamilton is a three-time Olympian and holds the second fastest time in the 1500 ever run by an American. Since the apex of her career in 2002, she’s worked feverishly to promote the sport of running. In December 2012, reports surfaces that she has been secretly working as a high-priced escort, but that does not erase her impressive running achievements.

Sanaya Richards-Ross is a 400m specialist who won gold in the event at the 2012 London Olympics. She is also the 2009 world 400m champion and has won many world championships and 3 additional Olympic golds as a member of the U.S. 4 x 400m relay team.

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Tirunesh Dibaba vs. Gulnara Galkina

You might remember Tirunesh Dibaba from her breath-taking 10,000 meter gold medal performance during the 2012 London Olympics. She also won both the 10,000 and 5,000 meter golds in the 2008 Olympics. In addition to that, she is the current 5,000 meter world record holder. She took the record from fellow contender, Meseret Defar, with her amazing 14:11.15 run in 2008. She also holds the 15k road record. She’s won several world championships in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

Gulnara Galkina holds the 3,000 steeplechase record and is the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medalist in the event. She is the first woman in history to run under 9:00 for the 3k steeple. Besides that she is a two-time Russian national champion in the 5,000 meters.

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Southern transplant who loves 90s boy bands, outdoor adventures and college basketball, although not necessarily in that order. Recovering running perfectionist.

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