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Douma-Hussar finishes ninth in 1,500

Canadian Press

Athens — Struggling through the last 300 metres of the women's 1,500-metre final on Saturday night, runners passing by her in a blur, Carmen Douma-Hussar was prepared for disappointment.

The scoreboard changed her mind.

Douma-Hussar finished ninth in the women's 1,500-metre final, running a personal best four minutes, 2.31 seconds in Canada's last race at Olympic Stadium.

"I think in my head, I assumed it was slow because they were just pulling away from me, and I thought this must have slowed down to a real tactical race and they're all just kicking it in," said Douma-Hussar.

"But (I was) happy when I looked at the clock and I saw 4:02. Ninth place, I'm not happy with that. But I can't be totally disappointed, I made the final."

In one of the most competitive women's 1,500 finals ever, Kelly Holmes of Great Britain won in a national record 3:57.90 for her second gold medal of the Games. Six women went under four minutes.

"Heck, I would have loved to be under four minutes, it would have been awesome .-.-. but hopefully in the years to come," said Douma-Hussar, 27. "People come out in the Olympics and they really shine."

Douma-Hussar, an assistant track coach at Villanova, was the first woman to race in an Olympic 1,500 final since Leah Pells finished fourth in Atlanta in 1996, Canada's best finish ever.

The personal best performance capped a remarkable season for Douma-Hussar. Just a year-and-a-half ago, she was a 4:14 1,500 runner. In March, she turned some heads by winning a silver medal in the 1,500 at the world indoor championships in Budapest.

By Saturday night, she had shaved six seconds off her personal best time from the beginning of the season, and two seconds off her time from two nights earlier in the Olympic semifinals.

"I think after I walk out and change my shoes, the initial disappointment of everybody passing me at 300 metres will fade and I'll just be elated," said the middle-distance runner.

Douma-Hussar's performance completed a tough Olympics on the track for Canada. For the second straight Games, the track team will leave without a medal, its best hope disappearing when Perdita Felicien crashed to the track in the women's 100-metre hurdles final.

"I knew coming into this race we had no medals from the track team, and I thought it would be kind of cool to be the one to bring one home," said Douma-Hussar.

It wasn't to be.

Holmes, meanwhile, won the women's 800 metres earlier in the meet in a gruelling double. She ran three rounds for both the 800 and 1,500 metres en route to her victories.

Saturday, the stadium erupted in a sea of Union Jacks as Holmes took the lead with about 120 metres to go, powering to the finish line.

Douma-Hussar couldn't help but be impressed.

"There's no words for that accomplishment," she said of Holmes. "To pull off three rounds of the 1,500 and an awesome time, I don't know how she does it."

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