Women 800m semis
The final chapter of the Graf versus Mutola saga will be revealed tomorrow, after both athletes qualified comfortably in their respective semi-finals in the Atlantic Pavilion.
In heat 1 Portuguese hope Sandra Teixeira was the first to show, going through 200m in 28.94, but the Russian Yelena Afanasyeva then took the initiative, going through the halfway point in 60.21, with Stephanie Graf, the Olympic silver medallist, right on her shoulder. Just before the bell, Graf surged into the lead, but the Russian fought back, and both athletes opened up a gap on the chasing pack. With the first three sure to qualify, there was a heated battle for third, with Tanzania's Lwiza Msyani John out-kicking Germany's Ivonne Teichmann in the final straight to record 2:02.40.
The next heat was a more tactical affair, with Maria Mutola and Charmaine Howell of Jamaica running shoulder to shoulder, and leading a tightly bunched field through the first lap in 29.15 and 400m in 62.43. Australia's Tamsyn Lewis, surged into the lead just before the bell, but her move was matched by Svetlana Cherkasova (RUS) and Helena Fuchsova (CZE). As the leaders approached the final bend, Mutola was slightly boxed in, but had the confidence to wait until the last 50 metres before edging out into lane 3 and powering past Fuchsova to stop the clock at 2:03.64. The fast finishing Jolanda Steblovnik-Ceplak, one of an impressive group of Slovenian athletes in Lisbon, also passed the Czech, to finish second in 2:03.64, with Fuchsova clocking 2:04.29 for third.