Nikki Hamblin fifth in women's 1500m final
With a wall of Kenyans in front of her, going at walking pace, the alarm bells sounded for Nikki Hamblin at Hampden Park.
When the sprint went on in the Commonwealth Games women's 1500m final with half a lap left, it was a lottery and a moment's hesitation would be costly. Hamblin, the second-fastest qualifier, finished fifth behind Kenyan Faith Kibiegon who clocked a dawdling time of 4min 8.94sec.
Hamblin's 4:10.77 was nearly 6sec slower than her year's best in yesterday's heats, providing an illustration of how sluggish the early pace was in the final.
"I felt really good and felt I was in a really good position. I got caught a little bit before 200m to go and a lot of girls came around me.
''When it's a slow race like that whoever kicks first is going to win nine times out of 10. The kick came and I was just in too much traffic," Hamblin said.
"I made a mistake with 200-250m to go. I can't say that cost me a medal, but I did what I could out there."
England's Laura Weightman and Canada's Kate van Buskirk stayed out of trouble and chased Kibiegon home for the minor medals, while Kenyan Hellen Obiri, the fastest qualifier, finished sixth behind Hamblin.
The 26-year-old New Zealander came in as a strong medal contender after her slick heat run, with silver medals in the 800m and 1500m to her name from Delhi four years ago.
She was in the first two early on, then the three Kenyans loomed up to control the race at snail's pace. Hamblin was positioned well, in behind the trio, but when Kibiegon put the foot down it was all on. She said she would have much preferred a fast run race, but as a distance runner she had to be prepared for anything.
Local favourite Laura Muir suffered a bad check coming into the home straight and Scottish media questioned Hamblin about it after the two appeared to come together.
"With 120m to go everyone is there and everyone is pushing and trying to find the space. There probably was [a bump]... yeah."
Hamblin plans to back up in the 800m heats (11pm tonight NZT) alongside team-mate Angie Smit, the national champion. It's a short turnaround and strange scheduling, with Hamblin having little more than 12 hours to recover from her exertions.
"I'm excited to come back, the crowd and the atmosphere is awesome and I don't want to give away another opportunity to be on the start line.
"It's a pretty tough turnaround. I'm not a renowned sleeper after racing and it will take a few coffees to get me to the start line.
"You get an opportunity at this once every two years and I don't want to give that away. It's not going to be easy, it's really strong the 800m."
Still it was an encouraging return for the 26-year-old, who was born in England but gained New Zealand citizenship in 2009. She was devastated to miss the London Olympics due to bone spurs on both heels, and underwent major surgery in September 2012 and only began jogging again 18 months ago.
She looked to be playing catch-up with her fitness and times in the leadup to Glasgow, and admitted she surprised herself with her slick run in the heats.