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In the final 100 meters of the women’s 1500-meter final today at the U.S. championships in Eugene, Oregon, Sinclaire Johnson used an impressive finisher to win in a time of 4:03.29. Johnson flew around Olympian Cory McGee coming off the final turn, earning a spot on Team USA for the first time in her career. She’ll compete at the world championships, also held at Hayward Field, next month.
“In the last lap I was waiting patiently to unleash my final gear,” Johnson said. Her race plan was to stay near the front the entire race and match any moves made by her opponents, never letting anyone get too far away from her.
“Every time I get on the start line I’m going for the win,” Johnson said. “I knew I was capable of winning. It never felt out of my wheel house.”
McGee, the 30-year-old New Balance athlete who represented the U.S. in the 1500-meter Olympic final in Tokyo last summer, was in command of the race for the majority of the final lap. At the bell, McGee, Elle Purrier St. Pierre, and Karissa Schweizer were three-wide at the front, elbowing each other, fighting for the lead position. McGee won that fight. She was the clear leader with 200 to go, and it appeared she might hold off Johnson even into the homestretch.
McGee finished second in 4:04.52. “My move was mostly impulsive,” she said of her dramatic push into the lead with 200 to go. “I’ve found that if I think just about [getting top three and] making the team, then chances are I won’t make the team. But if I focus on winning, I’ll make the team, so today was a lot about trying to win.”
McGee has been competing at U.S. championships for 10 years, since 2012. When asked about her longevity in the sport, she said, “When I’m in my head, I think about how much I love to run, and that makes it sustainable … You can do this for 10 years if you love to run. Cause if you win or lose you’re just out there trying to discover how good you can be, that makes it easy to stick around.”
The reigning national champion, Purrier St. Pierre, finished third in 4:05.14, just in front of Schweizer, who finished fourth in 4:05.40. Schweizer did not make the worlds team in the 1500 but already earned her place on the 10,000-meter team—she won the championships in the event last month.
Fan-favorite Nikki Hiltz, who just partnered with Lululemon this week after being unsponsored the past year, finished tenth in 4:10.97.
Looking forward to the world championships next month, Johnson’s season best time of 3:58.85 ranks her seventh in the world right now.
When asked her about her chances against the world’s best, she said, “I’m just getting started.”