David Rudisha’s Olympic ambitions got off without a hitch as the men’s 800m got underway before yet another capacity crowd of 80,000 at Olympic Stadium this morning.
It was a predictable run for the World record holder and overwhelming favourite for gold, who went straight to the front soon after the gun sounded to firmly control the tempo. After a modest 52.70 at the half, he finally accelerated with about 150 metres remaining to win easily in 1:45.90. Behind him Musaeb Abdulrahman Balla of Qatar (1:46.37) and Briton Andrew Osagie (1:46.42) took automatic qualifying spots 2 and 3, the latter just 0.03 ahead of Puerto Rican Wesley Vasquez, who did not advance.
The third of seven heats was the fastest, won by two-time World Indoor champion Abubaker Kaki. Like his great Kenyan rival, Kaki led virtually from the start en route to his 1:45.51 win. Kenyan Timothy Kutum (1:45.72), who eased up dramatically over the final 50 metres, was second with Abdulaziz Ladan Mohammed (1:45.72) of Saudi Arabia third to advance to tomorrow’s semi-finals.
Nijel Amos of Botswana, just 18 and the World Junior champion, looked solid in the first heat, winning in 1:45.90 with Brazil’s Fabiano Pecanha (1:46.29) and Kuwaiti Mohammad Al-Azemi (1:46.48) moving on as well. [NOTE: Referee decision in Heat 1 - The Referee disqualified Kuwaiti athlete Mohammad AL-AZEMI (bib number 2380), who had crossed the finish line in third position, under Rule 163.2 (Obstruction). The Referee also decided to advance Polish runner Marcin LEWANDOWSKI (bib number 2658) to the next round, considering that he was pushed by Al Azemi and lost his pace.]
U.S. champion Nick Symmonds was the winner of Heat 4, outdistancing Canadian Geoffrey Harris 1:45.91 to 1:45.97, a career best for the latter. Pole Adam Kszczot (1:45.99) moved on as well. Yuriy Borzakovskiy, the 2004 Olympic champion, finished fifth in 1:46.29 and had a nervous wait before learning that his time held up as the third and last qualifier on time.
Heat 5 was the slowest but like the others produced no surprises. Hamada Mohamed of Egypt took the win in 1:48.05, with Iran’s Sajad Moradi and Spaniard Kevin Lopez moving on as well. There was disappointment for the home crowd as Michael Rimmer finished a full second behind the winner in fifth, failing to advance.
In Heat 6, seven of the eight starters were still in contention midway through the final turn, with Kenyan Anthony Chemut leading. Mohammed Aman, the World Indoor champion and the last man to have beaten Rudisha, moved ahead with about 60 metres to go to nab the win in 1:47.34, with Chemut (1:47.42) and Spaniard Antonio Manuel Reina (1:47.44) crossing virtually side-by-side to move on as well.
In the last heat, American Duane Solomon apparently wanted to avoid trouble at all costs. Bringing the field through the first 400 in under 51 seconds, he held on for the 1:46.05 victory, with fast-finishing Dutchman Robert Lathouwers (1:46.06) and South African Andre Olivier (1:46.42) also advancing.
Noteworthy: Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi, who was assisted off the track yesterday after winning his 1500m semi-final, didn’t fare as well here. Never reaching full gallop, the 24-year-old African 800m champion jogged down the backstretch in heat 5 before stepping off the track at the top of the second turn. At the moment it’s unclear if he’ll be able to start tomorrow’s 1500m final.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
UPDATE 12:48: The following decisions was taken by the Referee in the heats of the Men’s 800m, Heat 5:
Algerian athlete Taoufik MAKHLOUFI (bib number 1008) did not finish the race. The Referee considered that he had not provided a bona fide effort and decided to exclude him from participation in all further events in the competition under Rule 142.4
RULE 142 Failure to Participate 4. At all competitions under Rules 1.1(a), (b), (c) and (f), except as provided below, an athlete shall be excluded from participation in all further events in the competition, including relays, in cases where: (…) (b) he qualified in a preliminary round of an event for further participation in that event but then failed to participate further. Note: Failure to participate includes failure to compete honestly with bona fide effort. The relevant Referee will decide on this and the corresponding reference must be made in the official results. The situation foreseen in this Note will not apply to Combined Events individual events.
UPDATE 2 19:16 - REVOCATION OF DISQUALIFICATION of Athlete 1008 Makhloufi Taoufik (ALG) from further participation
After reviewing evidence provided by a LOCOG medical officer, the disqualification of athlete 1008 Makhloufi Taoufik (ALG) from further participation in the athletics competition fo the 2012 Olympic Games has been revoked by the IAAF Technical Delegates. Consequently, Mr. Makhloufi is able to compete in the Men's 1500m Final.
Further info 20:00: The Medical Delegate clarified that the disqualification of Algerian athlete Taoufik MAKHLOUFI (bib number 1008) has been revoked following the evidence provided by two LOCOG doctors, who independently confirmed that the athlete suffered from a painful injury, which however, with appropriate treatment, may allow him to compete in 24 hours. No additional information will be provided, to respect the confidentiality between the athlete and the doctors.