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Men's 800m Semis: Kaki Trips Himself, Kiprop Blows Up, Ismail DNFs; Other Than That, Nothing Happened
Semifinal 1 (3 heats, top 2, next 2 times)
From last to first. From underdog to favorite. Symmonds simply pushed the pace reasonably the remainder of the race and won going away over Kenyan Jackson Mumbwa Kivuva. There were only four guys really left running for the 2 automatic spots, but Symmonds looked good.
Afterwards, in the interview above, he said, "But when it does, you have to take advantage of it. I didn't look back. I tried to get athletically around them, shoot that gap and keep my cool for 500 meters. As an amateur, I might have hesitated a little bit. But in this type of race, hesitation will kill you in a race like the 800."
Semifinal 1 Splits
Semifinal 2 was the "Group of Death." Track and Field News apparently called it the toughest semifinal ever. See the Khadevis Robinson interview, where he says he had no idea about his semifinal until 200m sprinter Wallace Spearmon came up to him at breakfast and said how hard it was. Spearmon said, "The only thing crazier than my race (Bolt's 19.19) is your heat today."
Craziness continued in the second semifinal. Ending up eliminated were none other than young Beijing Olympic silver medallist Ismail Ahmed Ismail and Beijing Olympic 1,500m pending gold medallist Asbel Kiprop! So in a matter of minutes, favorites Ismail, Kiprop and Kaki all bit the dust.
Kiprop for some reason got out hard, leading the field through 200m in 24.63. Much like Kaki in the heat before, Kiprop would meet a cruel fate. He lasted for a while but then totally gave up with about 200m to go. His egg was fried and Kiprop would go home without a medal after being favored to bring home two. He finished in 1:52.
Ismail Ahmed Ismail, the Olympic silver medallist, stopped running at the 400m mark. We're not sure what happened, as he just stopped and kicked the air in disgust. Both he and Kaki walked through the mixed zone without talking to reporters.
With all this craziness going on and favorites dropping out, we still had 2007 world champion Alfred Kirwa Yego, the tiny Kenyan, dangerous Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy, South African superstar Mbulaeni Mulaudzi and the former Gary Konchellah, now better-known as the 2009 1,500m World Champion Yusuf Saad Kamel.
After the fast opening pace, the race went pretty well to form if you remove Kiprop and Ismail from the picture. Borzakovskiy sensed the slowing pace with 250m to go and assumed the lead from Kiprop. He powered home, kicking a little bit earlier than he usually does. But it was a smart and capable tactic because he nabbed the 2nd spot.
While Kiprop struggled to return from the 1,500m, Kamel showed no such fatigue. He ran a very smart race, staying out of trouble in the heat. He then had a great kick and won the heat. Behind him, Mulaudzi was pinched behind Yego and Borzakovskiy. Only the top 2 got through automatically and the times weren't super-fast so every spot really mattered. In the end all three leaned and it went Borzakovskiy, Yego, Mulaudzi. All three ended up in the final when all was said and done.
American veteran Khadevis Robinson never factored down the homestretch, finishing almost a second behind the top 4 in 1:45.91.
In the interviews below, Khadevis says how Kiprop just "shutting it off" in front of him with 200 to go caused some problems as he had to go around him. Plus, we finally were able to talk to Asbel Kiprop, who leaves Berlin with possibly the most disappointing championships of any distance runner. In the interview, Kiprop, who basically quit running here with 200 to go, claims his problems were he peaked too early in the season.
Semifinal 2 Splits
The final heat was no different. Brazilian Fabiona Peçanha stepped right out to the lead. He led favorites Gary Reed (silver by 0.01 in 2007), Yeimar Lopez of Cuba, youngster David Rudisha of Kenya and Moroccan Amine Laalou.
Their splits were eerily similar to those of the previous heats, so we knew it would be a nail biter to figure out the finalists.
Much like the 1,500m heats, Laalou looked superb, coming through from off the pace to take the win. Of course, in the 1,500m final, Laalou didn't factor at all after everyone wanted to crown him the next great Moroccan middle-distance runner.
Behind Laalou it was a mess. Peçanha fell off the pace, while the 400m runner Lopez looked great at the steady pace. He was able to make up some ground in the last 100m to overtake Rudisha and Reed by an extremely narrow margin. Rudisha started leaning 10m out and almost fell on his face like Nancy Lagat did in her 1,500m semifinal. Both top Kenyans would miss the final. Rudisha afterwards said he felt some tightness in his legs - see the interview bleow.
Rudisha and Reed could only look up at the board and hope their times were fast enough. They weren't, and both had their championships ended. 2007 champion Alfred Kirwa Yego has made the final for Kenya, joining Kamel (now for Bahrain) and Kivuva as Kenyan finalists. Yego will be trying to repeat in the 800m, which - as you can see - is quite difficult to do!
Semifinal 3 Splits