All three heats in the men’s 800m first round were won in similar fashion, with the eventual winner hitting the front at the bell and holding off all their rivals.
Defending champion Mohammed Aman was the first to execute this plan after Spain’s Kevin Lopez had led through the first three laps. Although he was pressed hard by Russia’s Stephan Poistogov down the back straight, Aman accelerated away in the final 50 metres to win in 1:46.73, with the favoured Lopez drifting back to third and eventually being eliminated by faster non-automatic qualifiers in the next two races.
Qatar’s Musaeb Balla acted as the informal pacemaker for the men in the second heat and it was South Africa’s Andre Olivier who primarily benefited as he took the lead with a fraction over 200 metres remaining before crossing the line in 1:46.18, towing Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski and the Netherlands’ Thijmen Kupers through to fast enough times to see them through to the final.
The big surprise in the second heat was the failure to progress of world 800m silver medallist Nick Symmonds.
Although Symmonds, by his own admission, is not comfortable running indoors and was not 100 per cent championship fit, it was still a surprise to see him not having much involvement in the sharp end of the race.
He later announced that he would never run indoors again.
Adam Kszczot made it two representatives from the host country in the final when he won the third heat in 1:45.78, with Istanbul bronze medallist Andrew Osagie following him home in 1:45.88 to ensure his place in the final.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF