Mingir steps up a level
|Gulcan Mingir of Turkey throws her arms up in
delight after crossing the finish line during the
women's 3000m steeplechase in Helsinki
It was not until the last kilometre that any order was imposed on the race and by then it was down to three with another athlete hanging on for dear life to see what might transpire.
The first two kilometres had been a dawdle with no decisive move. Third-string German Sanaa Koubaa led through 1000m in 3:14.53, but with the whole field in close attendance it was as though no one was leading.
The second kilometre was even slower, Lybov Kharmalova of Russia finding herself in the lead at this stage in 6:31.92.
With 1000m to go it was down to the Ukraine's Svitlana Shmidt who was desperately trying to rid herself of her stockier shadow, Gulcan Mingir of Turkey, with Germany's Gesa Krause in close attendance.
After passing through the 2000m point in 6:31.92, it was clear it was working up to a fast finish and so it proved in the times. The last 1000m was covered in 3:01.04, the last 400m in 66sec.
Mingir had run her best time this year of 9:13.53 and it was her race to lose and it was up to the rest to take it from her.
To her credit that is exactly what Shmidt tried to do, but as they approached the water jump Mingir, who had held back for most of the race, rushed into the lead and never conceded it all the way to the line in 9:32.96.
"The race was not easy because of the weather," said Mingir.
"It was little bit slippery. But I´m very happy."
There also has to be a loser, but to her credit Shmidt never gave up the chase. At the line she was only 0.07 down: "I´m a little bit sad because I wanted to win," she said.
For most of the serious running, third place had belonged to Krause with her team-mate, Antje Moeldner Schmidt, five metres in arrears.
But the effort to go with the duo up front had drawn Krause's string and with 100m left Moeldner-Schmidt, eight years Krause's senior, came past to claim bronze.
"This is what I wished for, I'm very happy," said Moeldner-Schmidt. "It's a beautiful comeback for me!"
Moeldner-Shmidt had been seriously ill for a year and a half and now at the age of 28 she had finally won a senior medal.
In the 2009 world championships in Berlin she had set a German record (9:18.54) to finish ninth before illness intervened. In her comeback last year she could only manage 10:28.74. Now all that was firmly behind her.
Never before had Germany had a finalist in the top eight in this race and now they have two.
"There was no rhythm to the race," complained Moeldner-Shmidt. "I lost touch a bit. I knew Mingir was too strong for me, so I told myself not to go with her. I ran my race and found my rhythm in the last two laps.
"It was at the last water jump that I realised I had something left, so I told myself: now or never."
Mingir's only other significant title came at the European Athletics U23 Championships in Ostrava last summer and in that sense she is the embodiment of what those championships were designed to do- bring on talent by creating a transitional phase to give athletes experience of serious competition.
Mingir has run sparingly so far this summer, but has set career bests at both 3000m flat and the steeplechase.
The oddity is that her flat time is not much better than when the obstacles are in place. On the 20th May she ran the 3000m in 9:11.94 for a new lifetime best.
On the 9th June, she broke the national record with a time of 9:13.53, which represented an improvement of 26.30 seconds over her previous best from the summer of 2011.