Olympic Trials champion Shannon Rowbury (San Francisco, Calif.) turned in the top performance ever by an American woman in the Olympic 1,500m final. Rowbury ran a smart race from the gun, positioning herself in the top six and out of trouble as the pace came through at 65.90 for 400m and 2:13.70 for 800m. With 500 meters left in the race, world champion Maryam Jamal of Bahrain picked up the pace, stringing out the pack. Rowbury was in fourth at the break as Jamal came through 1200m in 3:16.41.
The torrid pace caught up with Jamal, and she was passed with authority in the final 200 meters by Nancy Jebet Langat of Kenya, who won in 4:00.23. Iryna Lishchynska moved up to second in 4:01.63, with Nataliya Tobias of Ukraine third in 4:01.78. Rowbury finished seventh in 4:03.58, the highest placing for an American in this event. On three other occasions, Americans had been eighth: Ruth Wysocki in 1984, Mary Decker Slaney in 1988, and Marla Runyan in 2000. Jamal faded to fifth in 4:02.71.