David Rudisha in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games 800m semi-finals (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Report: men's 800m semi-finals – Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Kenya’s David Rudisha will mount a defence of his Olympic 800m title in the Rio final on Monday night and go into the race as the favourite after a majestic semi-final win in 1:43.88.

It wasn’t the fastest time of the night, France’s Pierre-Ambroise Bosse and Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi were both marginally quicker in the first semi-final, but it was the way that Rudisha delivered the win which marks him out as the man to watch.

Rudisha hit the front just before the bell in his semi-final and passed 400m in 51.61 and soon there was little doubt about the winner.

He elegantly strode away from the rest of the field down the back straight and kept that at a convenient distance all the way to the line.

Behind Rudisha, US champion Clayton Murphy timed his final attack to perfect and went past the faltering European champion Adam Kszczot in the final 40 metres to get second in a personal best of 1:44.30, with the Pole finishing 0.4 in arrears and not making the final.

The first of three semi-finals saw Brazil’s Kleberson Davide take the pace over the first lap, to raucous cheers from the home crowd, and he passed the bell in 52.03.

With 280 metres to go, Bosse eased into the lead and sped away, but Olympic 1500m champion Makhloufi closed him down over the final 50 metres.

Both men were given the time of 1:43.85, which meant a relatively rare negative split over the second lap for both runners, as they qualified automatically for the final.

Poland's 2010 European champion Marcin Lewandowski also finished fast on the inside, keeping Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich at bay outside him as the pair took third and fourth respectively in 1:44.56 and 1:44.65, which were to see them through as the two fastest non-automatic qualifiers.

Kipketer looking classy

The second heat saw Kenya’s 2014 world U20 champion Alfred Kipketer throw down the gauntlet from the break for the inside and speed through the first lap in 50.73.

Kipketer, still only 19, kept the tempo high in front and entered the home straight with a clear advantage, which he kept all the way to the line. He won with aplomb in 1:44.38 to establish himself, perhaps, as the main rival to Rudisha despite winning the slowest of the three semi-finals.

USA’s Boris Berian eschewed his usual tactic of leading from early in the race as he had Kipketer to do the work for him and, with plenty in reserve, he came through strongly down the home straight to clinch second place in 1:44.56.

In third, Algeria’s Yassine Hethat ran a personal best of 1:44.81 but it wasn’t quick enough to see him through to the final.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF