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Drama In The First Round Of The Women's 800: Janeth Jepkosgei Falls, Americans Advance
Things started off with a bang on day two of the World Track and Field Championships in Berlin, Germany.
In the very first race of the day, heat 1 of the women's 800m, defending champ Janeth Jepkosgei got knocked down by 2009 world leader Caster Semenya of South Africa 150 meters from the finish. By the time Jepkosgei got up, it was way too late to make up any ground. Jepkosgei would come in last in 2:12.
Semenya would go on to win the heat in 2:02.51. American Geena Gall had a strong final 100 to finish 2nd as Ukranian Teiana Petlyuk was third. Photo of the fall here.
Jepkosgei did not talk to the media afterwards, but the Kenyan team filed a protest. It took a few hours, but eventually she was placed in the second round. Semenya was not disqualified.
Since Semenya was the one involved in the contact with Jepkosgei, it seemed her biggest concern was the Kenyan appeal and possible disqualification. However, after the race news came out Semenya was injured, "I don't know what happened, I didn't see anything because I was looking forward. I just saw the Kenyan fall down and I tried to jump over. But I twisted my ankle in the process. I went through the first round and it went well, but at the moment, I can't feel my ankle. I need to see the physio to check my leg. If it's not good, I'll quit." Video interview at the bottom.
Americans Sweep Into Semis
The other news was the success of the Americans as all three of them made the semifinals. In addition to Gall in Heat 1, Hazel Clark, the five-time US champion, advanced in Heat 3. After leading through 500, Clark was overtaken, but then moved up the final 100m to get the final automatic qualifying spot. In the post-race interview below Clark, is asked about her race and Maggie Vessey's 2009 season. Clark had nothing to say about Vessey as Hazel said she is concentrating on her own running.
Americans' eyes were most focused on Heat 5, which featured Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo and the 2009 US sensation Maggie Vessey. Vessey, the world's second fastest in 2009, had huge wins at the Pre Classic and Rome Golden League meet this year. Yet she was only fourth at the US trials with her late-charging style. She had come up short time after time at breaking two minutes to qualify for the World Champs until she popped her 1:57.84 in her last qualifying race.
Early on in this race, Vessey was in an unfamiliar place - first. She took the early lead in 29.6 at 200m. The 400 was reached in 64.31 with Vessey still up front. The slow pace (1:35.2) didn't shake anyone except Natalia Gallego. The real running was saved for the final straight, where Jelimo showed a big finish and some of the form that put her on top in 2008. Jelimo got the comfortable win, but Vessey was a clear second best, as she was nearly a half second clear of Jamaica's Kenia Sinclair.
Jelimo had never lost an 800m race in her life until this year, but she appears to be regaining her 2009 form at the right time.
Afterwards, Vessey discussed (interview below) her first Worlds race, her nerves, and having to lead. Plus she showed a little excitement for her fellow Americans all making the semis.
Russian Women Struggle But Advance
In Heat 4, Elena Kofanova (2:02.49), who had the 6th-fastest time (1:58.6) in the world coming in, was only fourth in her heat but advanced to the semis on time. In Heat 6, her teammate, Svetlana Klyuka, #5 in the world coming in (1:58.23) and 4th last year at the Olympics, was only fourth in her heat but made the semis on time (2:03:40). The third Russian Mariya Savinova (4th-fastest in the world this year) did win her heat.
16 August 2009 - 10:17
16 August 2009 - 10:24
16 August 2009 - 10:31
16 August 2009 - 10:38
16 August 2009 - 10:45