The defending world champion, 1996 Olympic silver medallist and 1997 world leader, Cuban Ana Fidelia Quirot won today’s final in 1:57.14. Russian Yelena Afanasyeva took the silver in the final metres of the race from Mozambique’s Maria Mutola.
Mutola, who prior to world championships had only competed in one official race, set the pace at 200m with 27.13. Afanasyeva, Quirot and Surinam’s Letitia Vriesde were also in the leading group. Around the second turn Afanasyeva challenged Mutola but could not pass her. The pace got a little slower (58.32 at 400m) and with one lap to go, the eight competitors ran together, Mutola leading on the inside of the track.
At 500m Quirot and Mutola were the leaders, with Afanasyeva on the outside and Vriesde behind them. The leaders hit 600m in 1:28.28. With 100 metres to go, Quirot made her move, and Mutola went after her, but the Cuban proved to be stronger and crossed the finish line celebrating her victory.
Afanasyeva took the silver with 1:57.56, and Mutola’s 1:57.59. Vriesde was 4th with 1:58.12 and Czech Republic’s Ludmila Formanova 5th with 1:59.52. Only five athletes bettered two minutes.
Both 800 metres champions, Quirot and Denmark’s Wilson Kipketer successfully defended the titles that they won two years ago in Gothenburg.