Women's 800m Underway: Favorites and Americans Alysia Montano, Maggie Vessey and Alice Schmidt Advance

By: LetsRun.com
September 1, 2011
Daegu, South Korea

Two thirds (24) of the 36 women in the first round made the 800 semi-finals so the first round largely served for the runners to get the cobwebs out and for all the arm chair pundits to speculate who looked best.

Quick recaps of the heats with results and post-race comments from the athletes below.

First four in each heat plus the next four times advance.

Heat 1: Maggie Vessey and Jenny Meadows Cruise as 1:56.99 800m Runner Has to Advance on Time

Heat 1 featured 2009 bronze medallist Jenny Meadows, US hopeful Maggie Vessey, and 1:56.99 Russian Yuliya Rusanova, who set her pr at the Russian champs in late July.

Meadows and Vessey had no trouble advancing on the final lap after Eunice Sum of Kenya led the field early on 200 (28.3), 400 (61.31), 600 (1:32.41).

Rusanova was the one who struggled, missing the final automatic qualifying spot by .01 to Sum. Rusanova would get into the semis on time but her chances don't look good as she follows the pattern a few other Russian women have exhibited in the past of running great in Russia but not fast on the World stage.

Maggie Vessey on Round 1
and Some Training in Texas

Afterwards, Maggie Vessey, still based in Santa Cruz, shared some of the secrets to her success, including training with some male 400m runners down in Texas with her coach Rose Monday. When asked if she's running more than she used to, "Oh yeah!" she said, "Hour long runs that used to be 35 minutes, tempo runs and anaerobic threshold. A lot of stuff that is difficult for me but... man it feels so much better out on the track. So," Vessey continued while rolling her eyes, "I'll keep doing it."

1 7 396 Jennifer Meadows GBR 2:01.11 Q
2 5 984 Maggie Vessey USA 2:01.32 Q
3 4 257 Rosibel García COL 2:01.33 Q (SB)
4 2 589 Eunice Jepkoech Sum KEN 2:01.37 Q
5 6 781 Yuliya Rusanova RUS 2:01.38 q
6 3 632 Egle Balciünaité LTU 2:02.88
7 1 667 Yvonne Hak NED 2:03.05

Heat 2 Kenia Sinclair Shows Her Old Form Going Wire to Wire

Kenia Sinclair was the hottest 800m runner on the planet for most of the year. Then she got tripped in Paris. She returned with a win in Stockholm, but then was beaten by Jenny Meadows in her last race. The question was whether Sinclair had peaked too soon.

Hard to tell for sure after round 1, but Sinclair looked good and went wire to wire for the win (29.09, 60.01, 1:31.23, 2:01.66). Halima Hachlaf (who has improved to 1:58.27 this year) moved up well the last 100m for second. The top 4 were not in doubt in this heat.

1 4 523 Kenia Sinclair JAM 2:01.66 Q
2 8 643 Halima Hachlaf MAR 2:01.80 Q
3 3 885 Yuliya Krevsun UKR 2:01.88 Q
4 2 144 Maryna Arzamasava BLR 2:01.97 Q
5 7 351 Fantu Magiso ETH 2:02.58 q
6 5 856 Merve Aydin TUR 2:04.88
7 6 597 Yeon-jung Huh KOR 2:08.05
8 1 306 Zourah Ali DJI 2:36.36 (PB)

Heat 3: The Fastest Heat of the Day as the Top 4 All Break 2:00, Including Alysia Montano Johnson

Heat 3 featured 2010 World leader, Alysia Johnson Montano (the 2011 US Champ) and the 2007 World Champ Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya. Jepkosgei would lead throughout (28.45, 58.46, and 1:28.97) but Montano would be right on her shoulder to the finish. Coming down the homestretch, Jepkosgei, Montano, Ekaterina Kostetskaya of Russia, and Marilyn Okoro of Britain were well clear of the rest of the field and had the automatic spots locked up. However, they kept going fairly hard to the finish and all broke two minutes as this was the fastest heat of the day by far (no one else in the field went under 2:01).

Tetiana Petlyuk had to be taken off the track on a stretcher after the race. We were not able to see what happened to her. Possibly an achilles injury but that is pure speculation.

Afterwards Jepkosgei, who in addition to her 07 gold, got silver in 08 and 09, said "My race was ok, I'm so happy because I managed to test myself and to win."

1 2 569 Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei KEN 1:59.36 Q
2 5 767 Ekaterina Kostetskaya RUS 1:59.61 Q
3 4 955 Alysia Johnson Montano USA 1:59.62 Q
4 7 398 Marilyn Okoro GBR 1:59.74 Q
5 1 101 Luiza Gega ALB 2:03.21
6 6 564 Margarita Matsko KAZ 2:04.24
3 889 Tetiana Petlyuk UKR DNF

Janeth Jepksogei
"I'm so happy because I managed to test myself and to win"

Alysia Montano Has More Important Things to Do Than Talk to the Media

Heat 4: Caster Semenya and 2011 World Leader Square Off

Caster Semenya After Round1

Heat 4 had the 2011 World leader Mariya Savinova and 2009 World Champion Caster Semenya. US third placer and former UNC Tar Heel Alice Schmidt was also in this heat. Schmidt has competed in three global/Olympic championship before and only made it out of the first round once.

Hoping to rectify that, Schmidt took it out in 28.66, 59.99, and 1:30.64. Semenya stayed near the front, being 4th at the bell and moving up to second with 200m left. Down the homestretch the top five were close together with Mariya Savinova, the world leader, getting the win and Schmidt getting the last automatic spot over Emma Jackson of Britain.

After cruising through her first round heat, Caster Semenya became one of a select few athletes to intentionally rush through the media mixed zone, avoiding dozens of journalists waiting to get an interview. At the last second, Semenya reluctantly stopped to answer questions from a South African media member, and though it was hard to hear, basically she said she feels no pressure, and is focused on her race. When asked about her knee that she clutched after the race, she brushed off the question and headed out of sight.

After Semenya left, dozens of reporters crowded around the male South African media member who managed to ask her a question. As shown in the video here, he was asked not only to repeat what she had told him, but also to give his opinion on whether Semenya would talk to the media after winning a medal. On Semenya's avoiding questions from the media, he said, "She's not really trying to avoid the media she's just trying to focus... because what happened to her in Berlin, she only returned to competition in July of last year." He went on to say, "Let's try again after the semis, if she qualifies."

1 3 782 Mariya Savinova RUS 2:01.01 Q
2 4 740 Caster Semenya RSA 2:01.01 Q
3 5 580 Cherono Koech KEN 2:01.03 Q
4 6 974 Alice Schmidt USA 2:01.11 Q
5 1 392 Emma Jackson GBR 2:01.17 q
6 2 472 Tintu Luka IND 2:01.89 q
7 7 999 Truong Thanh Hang VIE 2:03.52

Heat 5: The Slowest of the Day

Heat 5 did not feature any big names, although Sviatlana Usovich and Liliya Lobanova have both run under 1:59 this year and Zahra Bouras and Lucia Klocova have run under 2:00.

Usovich took this one out in 60.53 and it was a slow 1:32.72 at 600m, causing the field to bunch up. We believe Usovich went down at some point. Coming down the homestretch five runners were battling for four spots and Kiwi Nikki Hamblin was the odd woman out.

6 873 Annet Negesa UGA 2:02.75 Q
2 1 102 Zahra Bouras ALG 2:02.77 Q
3 3 827 Lucia Klocová SVK 2:02.81 Q
4 7 886 Liliya Lobanova UKR 2:02.84 Q
5 2 695 Nikki Hamblin NZL 2:02.87 (SB)
6 4 198 Lemlem Bereket CAN 2:03.62
7 5 159 Sviatlana Usovich BLR 2:05.62

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