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LetsRun.com's 2009 IAAF Berlin World Championships Preview
Men's 800m Run - Kiprop And Kaki Highlight Wide Open Field
The men's 800m is considered one of the most wide-open events of the 2009 World Championships. Yet August 6th brought some bad news to medal-hungry 800m entrants. Asbel Kiprop will be doubling.
Kiprop elected not to run the 800m at the Kenyan trials as the 1,500/800 double would have taken a serious toll on his body given the short rest between the events in Nairobi. But in Berlin, days (not minutes) separate the end of the first event (the 1,500) and the start of the second event (the 800). And so Athletics Kenya and Kiprop have announced that the world's best middle distance runner will attempt the double.
By running both events, the lanky showman will attempt to do what nemesis Rashid Ramzi did in the 2005 World Championships in Finland. The main difference is that Kiprop, we presume, will be attempting the double without the use of illegal amounts of EPO. Kiprop has the #2 time in the world in the 800m this year while occupying the 4th spot on the 1,500m world list. Despite battling fatigue from three rounds of 1,500m running, Kiprop will be the favorite in the field.
Even before the late addition of Mr. Kiprop, the entrants from Kenya make up the strongest trio from one country. Alfred Kirwa Yego is the reigning world outdoor champion. David Rudisha has yet to medal at a major competition but is young and has a 1:43.53 under his belt this year. Jackson Kivuna will have just turned 21 years old by the time he spikes up for the first round and has a best of 1:44.86.
Sudan's Abubaker Kaki is the most heralded world 800m man. His seasonal best of 1:43.09 is just off his 2008 best. In '08 the precocious, exciting Kaki made waves by winning the World Indoor Championships. A successful summer of racing ensued before he failed to medal in the Beijing Olympics. Also from Sudan, Ismail Ahmed Ismail won silver in Beijing, giving his country a devastating 1-2 punch. After a serious injury derailed Kaki for a few weeks in June and July, he returned to action in late July, most notably flailing through the finish line in Stockholm in a 1,000m loss.
North America could notch a finalist, if not a medal winner, in Berlin. Canada's Gary Reed is perhaps the most likely candidate to medal. He accomplished the feat in 2007 when he missed gold by 0.01 (watch the heartbreaking loss to the left), and just missed in the 2008 Olympic Games, finishing 4th.
Americans Nick Symmonds and Khadevis Robinson have differing racing styles, but both have demonstrated the ability to win races in fast times. Symmonds, who continues to develop and progress as a racer, has a seasonal best of 1:43.83 and Robinson has run 1:44.47.
Other definite medal threats include 2004 Olympic champion and 2005 Worlds runner-up Yuriy Borzakovskiy, Amine Laalou of Morocco, Olympic and World Championships podium-winner Mbulaeni Mulaudzi of South Africa, and Yeimar Lopez of Cuba, 6th in the 2008 Olympic final.
We wouldn't really be doing a complete preview if we neglected to mention Yusuf Saad Kamel and Ali Bilal Mansour of Bahrain, Saudi Mohammed Al-Salhi, and Algerian Nadjim Mansour. All of these performers have shown well in Europe this summer.
We've already mentioned 16 very strong entrants and only 8 will make the final. How can we possibly determine the eventual champion? We give you our predictions below, and if we get the top 3 correct it will be an amazing feat (of luck). First we'll start with Ismail Ahmed Ismail of Sudan. He has won in Paris and Lausanne, and was second to Kiprop in 1:43 in Athens. He navigated the Beijing rounds very well to get second, and the gold medal winner, Wilfred Bungei, won't be running this year.
Kiprop, Kaki, Ahmed Ismail, Kirwa and Borzakovskiy are the biggest names. But good luck finding them all in the final, let alone in the top 5 when all is said and done. The wacky 800 should be a Berlin highlight in 2009.
Men's 800m Statistics By LRC Coaching Guru John Kellogg
1:43.09 Abubaker Kaki (SUD) PR 1:42.69 (2008) Gold medal in 2008 World Indoor Championships