With the qualifying formula of the first three in each of the six heats plus the next six fastest runners, it seemed like a fairly routine task for the favorites to make the cut for tomorrow’s semi-final. Indeed, all the favourites progressed safely, leaving the men’s 800m one of the most open events of the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015.
In the fourth heat, Ferguson Rotich, the winner of the Kenyan trials this year, clocked 1:45.83, the fastest time in the first round. Morocco’s Amine El Manaoui was a close second in 1:45.86.
The swift times can be attributed to the bold race strategy of the Netherlands’ Thijmen Kupers.
He ran 51.86 for the first 400m, his split was the fastest opening lap of the morning, and he made his rivals work hard to catch him. The strategy paid off for Kupers, as well. He made the cut for the semi-final with 1:46.70, despite finishing sixth in his heat.
The world leader Amel Tuka, the biggest discovery in the European middle distance running this year, used his usual race pattern with a conservative first half of the race and an impressive finishing spurt. The Bosnian had no problem winning his heat, clocking 1:46.12.
However, another European runner arguably impressed even more.
Poland’s Adam Kszczot looked very comfortable, cruising to victory in heat five with a solid 1:46.68, despite visibly slowing down and even looking over his shoulders on the last 20 metres.
Botswana’s London 2012 Olympic Games medallist Nijel Amos and the defending champion Mohammed Aman, from Ethiopia, played it safe, running controlled races and won from behind their respective heats in 1:47.23 and 1:47.89: although Aman, who hasn’t been quite as dominant this season as in 2013, made a point of beating France’s Pierre-Ambroise Bosse on the line when he could have marginally eased up.
Kenya’s world record holder David Rudisha looked comfortable in his first race at the Bird’s Nest stadium.
He took control of the race, and the rivals seemed too intimidated to try and pass, even though the Kenyan clocked a fairly pedestrian 55.63 over the first lap. Rudisha’s winning time of 1:48.31 marked the slowest heat of the morning, but saved the Olympic champion some much needed power for Sunday’s semi-final.
Elena Dyachkova for IAAF