Yuriy Borzakovskiy after winning the Olympic title in Athens (Getty Images) © Copyright

Men's 800m semi-finals: IAAF World Championships, Moscow 2006

Setting up one of the most eagerly anticipated races of the championships, Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy easily advanced to tomorrow’ final in the men’s 800m.

Patiently working his way from the back of the pack on the first lap, the 24-year-old tucked in behind defending champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi where he remained the rest of the race. Borzakovskiy, finishing fast, eased up in the final ten metres, allowing the South African to keep his semi-final win.

Mulaudzi’s 1:46.82, ahead of Borza’s 1:47.09, was a season’s best. Finishing third and also moving on was Spaniard Juan de Dios Jurado, who passed Moroccan Amine Laalou in the final 40 metres en route to a personal best 1:47.38.

The second semi was a bit more cautious. Choosing to steer clear of trouble, Wilfred Bungei created a sizable lead just beyond the 400m point, passing Briton James Watkins before coasting to a 1:46.90 victory in the second semi. The Kenyan, the bronze medallist in 2003, is still searching for his first major international win.

“I gave maybe less than 80 percent,” Bungei said.

Dmitrijs Milkevics of Latvia, who left the University of Nebraska last month in order to compete here, moved on easily as well after finishing just a notch ahead of Watkins. Each was credited with a 1:47.23 performance, the second personal best in as many days for the 23-year-old South African-born Briton. Russian Ramil Aritkulov faded badly down the homestretch, and did not advance.