Women’s 800 Heats: The Stars Look Great & All Three Americans Advance After Brenda Martinez Survives A Scare

by LetsRun.com
August 10, 2017

LONDON — 800 qualifying often brings a lot of drama, but the first round of the women’s 800 at the 2017 IAAF World Championships on Thursday progressed mostly to form. The biggest casualty came before a single step had been run as 2013 champ/2015 bronze medalist Eunice Sum of Kenya came down with illness and had to withdraw.

Reigning world champion Marina Arzamasova of Belarus was also eliminated, but she was the reigning champ in name only as she had raced just two 800s this year prior to Worlds, neither faster than 2:02.59. She would finish fourth in heat 4 in 2:01.92, missing a spot in the semis by .12 of a second.

Even though Selina Buchel took the final auto spot from Adelle Tracey, Tracey was very happy as she moved on with a 2:00.28 pb Even though Selina Buchel took the final auto spot from Adelle Tracey in heat 6, Tracey was very happy as she moved on with a 2:00.28 pb

The big names in the event — Rio Olympic medalists Caster Semenya, Francine Niyonsaba and Margaret Wambui, American record holder Ajee Wilson and reigning silver medalist Melissa Bishop of Canada — all moved on with ease, setting up some exciting semifinals tomorrow.

2013 silver medallist Brenda Martinez of the US did advance but only as a time qualifier after finishing 4th in heat #2. However, after an anxious wait, she’d move on as the fifth of six time qualifiers.

Results, interviews and analysis below

Heat 1

1 4380 Ajee WILSON USAUSA 2:00.52 Q
2 3667 Noélie YARIGO BENBEN 2:00.99 Q SB
3 4100 Egle BALCIÜNAITÉ LTULTU 2:01.21 Q SB
4 4135 Sanne VERSTEGEN NEDNED 2:01.50 q
5 4282 Winnie NANYONDO UGAUGA 2:02.65
6 3850 Kore TOLA ETHETH 2:03.01
7 3776 Johana ARRIETA COLCOL 2:07.36

Heat 2

1 4166 Angelika CICHOCKA POLPOL 2:00.86 Q SB
2 3719 Melissa BISHOP CANCAN 2:01.11 Q
3 3904 Shelayna OSKAN-CLARKE GBRGBR 2:01.30 Q
4 4354 Brenda MARTINEZ USAUSA 2:01.53 q
5 3823 Esther GUERRERO ESPESP 2:02.22
6 4089 Emily Cherotich TUEI KENKEN 2:02.70
7 3637 Lora STOREY AUSAUS 2:07.17
8 4223 Nimali W. K. L. ARACHCHIGE SRISRI 2:08.49

Heat 3

1 4209 Caster SEMENYA RSARSA 2:01.33 Q
2 3784 Rose Mary ALMANZA CUBCUB 2:01.43 Q
3 4174 Joanna JÓZWIK POLPOL 2:01.51 Q
4 4159 Angela PETTY NZLNZL 2:01.76
5 4028 Natoya GOULE JAMJAM 2:01.77
6 3626 Brittany MCGOWAN AUSAUS 2:02.25
7 3730 Annie LEBLANC CANCAN 2:04.06

Heat 4

1 4090 Margaret Nyairera WAMBUI KENKEN 2:00.75 Q
2 3911 Lynsey SHARP GBRGBR 2:01.04 Q
3 4281 Halima NAKAAYI UGAUGA 2:01.80 Q
4 3669 Marina ARZAMASOVA BLRBLR 2:01.92 SB
5 3846 Mahlet MULUGETA ETHETH 2:02.04
6 4296 Olha LYAKHOVA UKRUKR 2:02.07
7 4016 Yusneysi SANTIUSTI ITAITA 2:02.75
8 3722 Lindsey BUTTERWORTH CANCAN 2:03.19

Heat 5

1 4350 Charlene LIPSEY USAUSA 2:02.74 Q
2 4154 Hedda HYNNE NORNOR 2:02.85 Q
3 4275 Docus AJOK UGAUGA 2:02.98 Q
4 4002 Aníta HINRIKSDÓTTIR ISLISL 2:03.45
5 3620 Georgia GRIFFITH AUSAUS 2:03.54
6 4000 Siofra CLÉIRIGH BUTTNER IRLIRL 2:06.54
7 4035 Kimarra MCDONALD JAMJAM 2:09.19
4087 Eunice Jepkoech SUM KENKEN DNS

Heat 6

1 3660 Francine NIYONSABA BDIBDI 1:59.86 Q
2 3837 Habitam ALEMU ETHETH 2:00.07 Q
3 4227 Selina BÜCHEL SUISUI 2:00.23 Q
4 3914 Adelle TRACEY GBRGBR 2:00.28 q PB
5 3932 Christina HERING GERGER 2:01.13 q
6 4245 Hanna HERMANSSON SWESWE 2:01.25 q
7 4205 Gena LÖFSTRAND RSARSA 2:01.73 q
8 3613 Rose Nathike LOKONYEN ARTART 2:20.06 SB

Quick Take: Ajee Wilson didn’t need to run fast in Monaco to know she could contend with Caster Semenya

Ever since the start of 2016, Caster Semenya has been the standard in the women’s 800. Everyone in the sport has debated about whether Semenya and others who are believed to be hyperandrogenic should be competing, but that doesn’t matter to Wilson, who must contend with them in London nevertheless. And though Wilson showed she could run with Semenya by clocking 1:55.61 in Monaco last month, she has believed she can beat the South African — who hasn’t lost an 800 since 2015 — for far longer.

“Since last year, my coach has kind of been drilling in my head that I can compete, they are beatable and I can do it,” Wilson said. “Last year, I was kind of in the shape that I am now and I think we pushed a little too hard and I ended up having an iron deficiency. So I definitely know it’s there and I’ve known for a while. So it’s just nice to be able to finally get there this year.”

Wilson certainly looked great in today’s prelim, but the true test will come on Sunday in the final.

Quick Take: Brenda Martinez moved on, but was disappointed in her final 50 meters

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Martinez said that she felt in control for the majority of her race but that she was “pissed off” about her finish as Shelayna Oskan-Clarke ran her down for the final auto spot. While Martinez obviously wanted an auto spot, her heat was probably the hardest of the six today so fourth wasn’t a total disaster. But with only eight women advancing the final, she will have to be better tomorrow. Martinez expects that she will be.

“I know that the training’s there, the strength’s there,” Martinez said.

Quick Take: Charlene Lipsey has learned from a rough race in Monaco and is ready to go

Lipsey had a “terrible” race in Monaco (her words), running 2:01.09 to finish 8th, more than two and a half seconds behind Martinez in 7th. But Lipsey, who until this year had never come close to making a U.S. team, has limited international experience and felt that the race was actually a blessing in disguise.

“I’m kind of glad Monaco played out that way because that was the first time I had so many really, really good runners all at one time. The box-in, the shoving, the pushing, I just knew that I had to be a little bit more tough, I gotta sharpen my elbows a little bit more and just get out more aggressively. But I definitely feel like it’s gonna prepare me for tomorrow’s semifinal.”

Quick Take: Melissa Bishop lost her balance briefly but otherwise cruised through

Bishop broke through with a silver in Beijing two years ago and since then has stayed near the very top of the women’s 800 ranks, running a Canadian record of 1:57.02 to place 4th at last year’s Olympics. Bishop went even faster in Monaco (1:57.01) and said that result showed that training has been going well and that she is even fitter than she was a year ago. Could that be the difference in her pursuit for another medal (she was just .13 from a medal last year).

Quick Take: Margaret Wambui attributed her poor race in Monaco to overtraining

From the start of the 2016 outdoor season to last month, Wambui had only lost to two people in an 800: Caster Semenya and Francine Niyonsaba. That changed in Monaco where Wambui bombed, taking dead last in 2:02.13. The good news for Wambui — and the bad news for the rest of the world — is that Wambui said she’s in better shape now after overtraining going into Monaco.

Francine Niyonsaba interview

Niyonsaba was the only woman to break 2:00 on the night and though she had to come from behind to do it (a rarity for her), she said running that fast felt easy.

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