Men's 800m Semifinals - IAAF World Championship
Provided by IAAF
This stage can often prove a banana skin for prospective medal contenders with only two athletes qualifying automatically by right from each semifinal and so it proved tonight with three of the top six on the world lists - including world-leader Emmanuel Korir from Kenya, fourth in 1:46.08 - failing to progress into Tuesday night’s final.
In the first semifinal, Korir’s teammate Ferguson Rotich - who was another heat winner and ranked sixth on the world lists with 1:44.37 - also missed out, finishing third in 1:46.49. Poland’s Adam Kszczot himself came to grief at this stage at the Olympics last year but the silver medallist from two years ago ran his trademark even-paced race to progress through in 1:46.24 ahead of Botswana’s Nijel Amos in 1:46.29 with Rotich not fast enough to qualify on time.
But the biggest shock came in the second semifinal. Korir hadn’t lost an individual race at any distance - heats included - before tonight and he looked on course to cruise into the final, tracking the de facto pacemaker Brandon McBride from Canada right from the break of lanes..
McBride kept his form to win in 1:45.53 but Korir’s legs seemingly crumbled in the last eighty metres and the world-leader was overhauled first by Kyle Langford and then by Marcin Lewandowski, the Brit running the Olympic finalist out of a place in the final, 1:45.81 to 1:45.93.
Korir’s racing season began in earnest in January when he set a world indoor 600m best of 1:14.91 and the effects of such a demanding schedule might have caught up with him tonight. "I had an injury after the preliminary rounds. I have a hip injury and wasn’t at my best,” said Korir after the race.
But Kenya will still have one representative in the final as world U20 champion Kipyegon Bett - fancied by many to succeed David Rudisha as the next great 800m runner - took a gun-to-tape win in the third semifinal in 1:45.03 ahead of 2013 world champion Mohamed Aman from Ethiopia in a season's best of 1:45.40.
France Pierre-Ambroise Bosse (1:45.63) and Brazil’s Thiago Andre (1:45.83) benefitted from Bett’s pacemaking, both making it through as non-automatic qualifiers from the third semifinal but Donavan Brazier - one of four runners to break the 1:44 mark this season - drifted out of contention into seventh in 1:46.27.
Steven Mills for the IAAF