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Men's 800 Round 1 Recap: All The Favorites And Nick Symmonds And Khadevis Robinson Advance
The first round of men's 800m at the 2009 World Track and Field Championships in Berlin was perhaps a bit unusual for a World Championships in the fact that ALL of the favorites made it through to the semifinals.
Just 15 hours after the exciting men's 1,500m final, Yusuf Kamel of Bahrain, the surprise gold medallist at 1,500, and the heavy favorite for gold at 1,500m who did not medal, Asbel Kiprop, both were on the track again racing each other. Both were in the same heat and both qualified for the finals, as Kamel got the heat win over Kiprop in heat 4, where American Khadevis Robinson got the third automatic spot in the semifinals. Kiprop, who avoided the media after not medalling the night before, once again walked through the mixed zone without stopping to chat.
The Kenyan, who had a disastrous 1,500m the night before, looked great in round 1 of the 800, as did all of the Kenyans. A day after Kenya got zero medals in the 1,500 - even though four of the top 5 finishers were born in Kenya - all four Kenyan runners in the 800 advanced and the only one not to win their heat was the precious Kiprop. The top 3 in each heat qualified for the semis automatically so there was no extra incentive to win the heats.
American Nick Symmonds, racing for the first time since his 1:43.83 PR in Monaco on July 28th, looked good in winning his heat, but American Ryan Brown did not advance, nor did Irishman and Notre Dame product Tom Chamney.
If you want more detailed coverage, we have post-race interviews with the Americans and a few others, including Chamney, below plus brief heat recaps with a very brief recap of what is said in the interviews.
Heat 1: Mulaudzi And Kaki Cruise
Heat 1 featured last year's 800m sensation Abubaker Kaki, who set a world junior record, but bombed out at the semifinals of the Olympics, and 2004 Olympic silver medallist, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi of S. Africa.
The Brazilian Fabiano Pecanha led at 200 (25.27) and 400 (53.27) with Kaki in second. On the backstretch, Mulaudzi moved up on the inside and at 600 (1:20.58), Kaki was in third. Mulaudzi would get the narrow win as Kaki moved up down the homestretch to finish .01 behind.
Heat 2 featured the US champ Nick Symmonds, fresh off his 1:43.84 PR in Monaco, the Olympic silver medallist Ismail Ahmed Ismail of Sudan, who was overshadowed by Kaki for much of last year, and Bahrain's Belal Mansoor Ali, who finished 7th at Worlds in 2005 as a 17-year-old (he was later cleared of age cheating allegations).
Prince Mumba of Oral Roberts and Zambia did the early leading (26.45 and 54.33). Nick Symmonds was in second at the bell and 600m, the Swede Mattias Claesson had moved up and Symmonds was in 3rd. Down the homestretch, the cream of the field rose to the top, as Symmonds, Ismail, and Mansoor Ali clearly distanced themselves from the field. Symmonds got the win. Afterwards, in the interview up top, Symmonds talked about how it was good to be back racing after having the layoff after his 800m PR and how his confidence is sky high. He said the heat went as expected.
Heat 3: Reed And Borzakovskiy The Only Sub 1:46s On The Day
Samson Ngoepe of S. Africa led at 200 (25.2) and 400 (52.05), with Gary Reed in second. Borzakovskiy moved up by 600, where he was in second (1:19.2). Reed and Borzakovskiy would battle it out down the homestretch, with Reed running all the way to the line even though they were well clear of third. Reed got the win in 1:45.76 and Borzakovskiy the only other runner to dip under 1:46 on the day. Jeff Lastennet got the final automatic qualifying spot and Ngoepe would be rewarded for his early leading with a spot in the final on time. Ryan Brown of the US, in his first World Champs, was fifth in 1:46.92 and would miss the semis by a couple of places. Brown loved his experience at Worlds and we have an interview with him above.
Heat 4: Kiprop And Kamel Round 2, KD Advances
Lukas Rifesser of Italy did the pacemaking at 200 and 400 (53.31), where Khadevis Robinson (KD) was in 3rd, Kamel in 5th and Kiprop in his new favorite position, the back.
At 600 (1:20.16) , Mahamoud Farah of Djibouti was in the lead and KD was in second. Down the final stretch, Kamel and Kiprop kicked it into gear and powered away from the field with Kamel finishing in front of Kiprop. KD kept fighting down the homestretch to finish third as Kamel and Kiprop had another gear that he didn't have.
In the interview up top, KD talked about possibly winding up his sprint for home earlier so the other guys wouldn't come by as fast. He was pleased to advance and hoped his body keeps doing what it is capable of, he said.
Yego would win his heat 5 in what was the most competitive heat of the day. Yego was the clear winner but only .15 separated him from 5th.
Afterwards, in the interview up top, we talked to Yego briefly and he talked about the pressure of defending and how championship style racing suits him.
Heat 6: Former World Junior Champ David Rudisha Wins
Heat 7: Jackson Kivuva Gives Kenya Its 3rd Heat Win Of The Day
Moise Joseph of Haiti was in the lead at 400 (52.91). Kivuva moved up to get the win, but 5 guys from this heat would make the final. It's worth noting that Rice product Pablo Solares ran the 800 and was last in this heat.