World champion Andre BUCHER (SUI) will not be defending his title in Sunday's 800m final after he failed to qualify from the semi-final round this evening. Bucher, running in heat two, could only finish fifth in 1:46.63, having led at the bell in 52.12.
Bucher has suffered two stress fractures in the last two years, and is yet to regain his 2001 form.
The race was won by Commonwealth champion Mbulaeni MULAUDZI (RSA), the second fastest man in the world this year, and the fastest in the field. He crossed the line in 1:46.31 having chased Bucher and France's Florent LACASSE around the final bend. Olympic bronze medallist Djabir SAID-GUERNI of Algeria followed him home in 1:46.36.
Those were the only two to qualify from that heat as both the fastest losers came from heat one, a race won in 1:45.30 by Russia's 2001 world indoor champion Yuriy BORZAKOVSKIY. He adopted his usual tactics, starting slowly and trailing off the back of the group, way off the pace, for the first lap. But his incredible finishing kick came into play round the final bend and, especially, from 80m out. He ate up the ground, going past world record holder Wilson KIPKETER of Denmark, Justus KOECH of Kenya and the early race leader Osmar DOS SANTOS of Brazil.
Kipketer qualified in second place (1:45.50), with Koech (1:46.04) and dos Santos (1:46.07) getting the fastest losers spots. Kenya's former world junior champion Nicholas WACHIRA was a casualty in that race, as he caught his foot on Khadevis ROBINSON's (USA) shin while moving into second place around the penultimate bend, and tumbled to the wet track.
The two qualifiers from the final heat were Italy's Andrea LONGO, who sneaked through a gap on the inside in the final 50 metres to win in 1:46.26, and South Africa's 1996 Olympic silver medallist Hezekiel SEPENG, who ran a sensible and safe race for second in 1:46.43. Among those who missed out were the USA's world indoor champion David KRUMMENACKER, who led all the way from the gun, and Kenya's Japhet KIMUTAI, the third fastest man in the world this year, who struggled down the home straight, finishing back in seventh place in 1:47.53.