Russian Yelena Soboleva began her Olympic 1.500m gold meal quest in excellent fashion today at the Russian Winter Games in Moscow, setting a national record in a mile race at the Russian Winter IAAF indoor meet on Sunday.
Soboleva won in 4 minutes, 20.21 seconds, shaving 3.50 seconds off of Elena Zadorozhnaya's previous indoor record of 4.24,11 — a time she set in 2001.
Soboleva, who set an outdoor personal best (4.15,63) in the mile in 2007, became the third-fastest female (with the fourth-fastest performance) ever at the indoor distance, trailing only Romanians Doine Melinte (4:17.14 and 4:18.86) and Paula Ivan (4:18.99), the 1988 Olympic 1.500m champion.
Soboleva took control of the race and took over the lead at the 1.000m mark (2:46.39) never to relinquish her position as she used part of her 1:57.28 800m speed to close out her historic run with a very respectable 2.07 final-880-yard split.
Teammate Olga Komyagina had a breakthrough race in finishing second in 4.23,49, a time which ranks 13th on the world all-time indoor mile list. Komyagina has a lifetime 1.500m best of 4.02,32 set eight years ago in Leverkusen, but has spent a greater part of her past three seasons acting as a pace maker for high profile races around Europe.
Russia's Svetlana Masterkova holds the outdoor mile record of 4:12.56 set in 1996 at the Weltklasse meet in Zürich, Switzerland. Ivan, at 4:15.61, is second on the all-time list and 0.02 seconds faster than Soboleva's outdoor best - the third-fastest ever recorded.
Soboleva, who set the world indoor 1.500m record (3:58.28) in 2006, is seeking redemption in Beijing as she challenges for the gold medal — something which eluded her at the 2007 IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Osaka, Japan.