(L-R) Nick Symmonds of the United States, Prince Mumba of Zambia and Belal Mansoor Ali of Bahrain in the second of the men's 800m heats in Berlin (Getty Images) © Copyright

Event Report - Men's 800m - Heats

Before the championships began, Kenyan Asbel Kiprop was seen as a potential double medallist in the middle distances. But much has changed in the past 24 hours.

A favourite in last night’s 1500m final, Kiprop, the Olympic silver medallist, ran a poor race tactically, and finished just out of the medals, taking home a disappointing fourth place finish. The winner of that race was Kenyan-born Bahraini Yusuf Saad Kamel, whose strong credentials in the 800 were on clear display down the homestretch of the metric mile.

The two met in the fourth heat of the this morning’s opening round of the 800m and Kamel, whose father, Willy Konchellah, was a two-time World champion in the event, was apparently still riding high from his victory 15 hours earlier. The 28-year-old clocked a 1:46.43 to beat Kiprop to the line by 0.09 with a season’s best. Obviously, the modest 2009 best – Kamel has only contested the event twice this season before Berlin – is clearly not indicative of his form, and may be a dark horse in the medal chase in this particularly unpredictable event. Kamel has a 1:42.79 career best from last year, along with another half dozen sub-1:44s.

The first three from each of the seven heats, along with the next three fastest, fought for spots to tomorrow’s brutal semi final-round. No major surprises emerged.

World leader Abubaker Kaki of Sudan and South African Mbulaeni Mulaudzi crossed the line virtually side-by-side in the first heat, as did American Nick Symmonds (1:47.12), Ali Belal Mansoor of Bahrain and Sudan’s Olympic silver medallist Ismail Ahmed Ismail in the second.

Defending silver medallist Gary Reed and Yuriy Borzakovskiy dominated the third heat, their 1:45.76 and 1:45.86 clockings, respectively, the fastest of the opening round.

Reigning World champion Alfred Kirwa Yego won the slowest heat, taking race five in 1:48.32 with the next four battling for the next two spots in a blanket finish. The fortunate two were Hungary's Tamas Kazi and Pole Marcin Lewandowski.

David Rudisha (heat six) and Jackson Kivuva (heat seven) took their respective heats to give Kenya four men in the semi finals. Behind them, Cuban Yeimer Lopez, Briton Michael Rimmer, Dutchman Bram Som and Amine Laalou of Morocco moved on automatically as well.

Notable non-qualifiers were Saudi record holder Mohammed Al-Salhi, Ugandan Ambraham Chepkirwok and Latvian Dmitrijs Milkevics.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF