No Kenyan competitor to the final, just one of the two fancied Polish representatives making it through, the world’s fastest man for the year looking decidedly shaky and two relative unknowns advancing – that was the wash-up of the men’s 800 metres semi-finals.
Boaz Lalang, the silver medallist in Doha two years ago, finished third in the second semi-final with only two advancing. Timothy Kitum, bronze medallist in the World Youth Championships last year, occupied the same position in the first semi. So that was it for Kenya.
Lalang’s race had already produced a sensation with Marcin Lewandowski, Poland’s European outdoor champion, falling at the bell and failing to finish. Lewandowski appeared to clip Lalang’s heels as the lead shuffled coming up to the last lap.
That shuffle was caused by the surprise move of Michael Rutt into the lead. Virtually his only claim to fame was his second at the US championships. Not any more, now he is a world championships finalist, holding on to win in 1:48.88.
Behind him, Belgium’s equally unknown Jan Van Den Broeck fired past a tiring Lalang off the final bend to take second in 1:48.90. The Belgian’s best result before that was to take sixth in a heat at the 2010 European championships. But he improved to 1:47.19 indoors earlier this year.
Poland’s Adam Kszczot, third in Doha 2010, looked comfortable enough for most of the third semi, taking control of the race after 400 metres and pulling Jakub Holusa of the Czech Republic clear with him. But he looked decidedly uncomfortable in the final 30 metres as Holusa came past to win, 1:47.23 to 1:47.90.
Amidst all the surprises, Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman came through with a minimum of fuss, winning the first semi in 1:48.07. Always prominent, he came home a narrow, but clear winner.
Behind him, Britain’s Andrew Osagie, Spain’s Antonio Reina and Kenya’s Timothy Kitum fought a desperate battle for the second qualifying position, Osagie passing the tiring Spaniard on his outside, Kitum on the inside.
In the end, the smoother run was decisive, Osagie taking second in 1:48.13 from Kitum, 1:48.22.
Aman will start favourite in the final. After the happenings in the semis, it may be a dubious honour.
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JURY OF APPEAL DECISION
Event: 800m Men, Semi-Final, Heat 2
A Protest was filed after the 800m Men, Semi-Final, Heat 2, by the Polish Team against Kenyan athlete Boaz Kiplagat LALANG (bib number 187).
The Polish Team claimed that Lalang had changed lane abruptly and caused the accident where Polish athlete Marcin LEWANDOWSKI (bib number 226) fell and consequently cause the fall of Colombian athlete Rafith ROBRIGUEZ (bib number 58).
The Jury of Appeal met and rejected the protest.
The result stands.
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Len Johnson for the IAAF