By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom, with additions by LetsRun.com
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
Perhaps the biggest surprise of day five at the 2014 IAAF World Junior track and field competition came in the men’s 800m semi-finals, where American
was the fastest of all qualifiers. Leading heat three from start to finish, Kinnaird claimed victory in 1:48.04.
“It felt amazing. We didn’t go out that hard so I knew, since I’ve been running from the front all year, I knew that I could manage the pace that was comfortable for me. It was like I could play it in my hands,” said Kinnaird, who attends Indiana University, where he ran 1:47.99 this year and was the Big 10 runner-up outdoors (but failed to make it to NCAAs in Eugene)
Splitting 400 meters in 53.86, Kinnaird expected to be challenged down the stretch.
“I was waiting for those guys to come up and I was like, ‘Uh oh, I’m going to have to save up for this kick’ because they will be kicking like crazy,” said the 19-year-old. “But I held my own and I’m very satisfied with it and I’m really looking forward towards the final.”
By advancing, Kinnaird keeps America’s hopes for a medal in the discipline alive. At the 2010 IAAF World Junior Championships, the USA claimed silver (Casimir Loxsom) and bronze (Robby Andrews).
Kenyans Alfred Kipketer and Joshua Tiampati Masikonde won the first and second heats in 1:48.67 and 1:48.09, respectively. Executing similar strategies, both went right to the lead and never relinquished it.
After battling with Ethiopian Jena Umar for most of the final lap, Kipketer flailed his arms wildly coming down the homestretch. While Kipketer went on to win, Umar faded ever so slightly just as Great Britain’s Kyle Langford was charging hard. A lean gave Langford second in 1:48.76, with Umar third in 1:48.81.
“I am improving my time day and day, and today I think it was tough, not perfect, a little tired,” Kipketer, last year’s World Youth champion, told Race Results Weekly. “But I am ready for a tough final race. It will be a challenge.”
Shortly after the finish, Langford could be seen grabbing his hamstring, visibly in pain. It was confirmed to Race Results Weekly that Langford suffered what was described as a slight niggle, though should be good to go for tomorrow’s final.
Running well within himself in heat two was Masikonde, leading through 400 meters in 53.94. Not until 100 meters remained did Masikonde open his stride, his lanky arms and legs pumping fast and furious.
Across the line in 1:48.09, Masikonde finished ahead of Sweden’s Andreas Almgren (1:48.87).
Tomorrow, in the final day of these championships, finals in the men’s 800m and 3000m steeplechase, as well as the women’s 1500m, will be contested.
An interview appears with Kinnaird appears below which is followed by heat by heat results.
Kinnaird Talks After His Race: