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

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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

14380Ajee WILSONUSAUSA2:00.52 Q
23667Noélie YARIGOBENBEN2:00.99 Q SB
44135Sanne VERSTEGENNEDNED2:01.50 q
54282Winnie NANYONDOUGAUGA2:02.65
63850Kore TOLAETHETH2:03.01
73776Johana ARRIETACOLCOL2:07.36

Heat 2

14166Angelika CICHOCKAPOLPOL2:00.86 Q SB
23719Melissa BISHOPCANCAN2:01.11 Q
33904Shelayna OSKAN-CLARKEGBRGBR2:01.30 Q
44354Brenda MARTINEZUSAUSA2:01.53 q
53823Esther GUERREROESPESP2:02.22
64089Emily Cherotich TUEIKENKEN2:02.70
73637Lora STOREYAUSAUS2:07.17
84223Nimali W. K. L. ARACHCHIGESRISRI2:08.49

Heat 3

14209Caster SEMENYARSARSA2:01.33 Q
23784Rose Mary ALMANZACUBCUB2:01.43 Q
34174Joanna JÓZWIKPOLPOL2:01.51 Q
44159Angela PETTYNZLNZL2:01.76
54028Natoya GOULEJAMJAM2:01.77
63626Brittany MCGOWANAUSAUS2:02.25
73730Annie LEBLANCCANCAN2:04.06

Heat 4

14090Margaret Nyairera WAMBUIKENKEN2:00.75 Q
23911Lynsey SHARPGBRGBR2:01.04 Q
34281Halima NAKAAYIUGAUGA2:01.80 Q
43669Marina ARZAMASOVABLRBLR2:01.92 SB
53846Mahlet MULUGETAETHETH2:02.04
64296Olha LYAKHOVAUKRUKR2:02.07
74016Yusneysi SANTIUSTIITAITA2:02.75
83722Lindsey BUTTERWORTHCANCAN2:03.19

Heat 5

14350Charlene LIPSEYUSAUSA2:02.74 Q
24154Hedda HYNNENORNOR2:02.85 Q
34275Docus AJOKUGAUGA2:02.98 Q
53620Georgia GRIFFITHAUSAUS2:03.54
74035Kimarra MCDONALDJAMJAM2:09.19
4087Eunice Jepkoech SUMKENKENDNS

Heat 6

13660Francine NIYONSABABDIBDI1:59.86 Q
23837Habitam ALEMUETHETH2:00.07 Q
34227Selina BÜCHELSUISUI2:00.23 Q
43914Adelle TRACEYGBRGBR2:00.28 q PB
53932Christina HERINGGERGER2:01.13 q
64245Hanna HERMANSSONSWESWE2:01.25 q
74205Gena LÖFSTRANDRSARSA2:01.73 q
83613Rose Nathike LOKONYENARTART2:20.06 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

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.