Sunday, 16 August 2009

Event Report - Women's 800 Metres - Heats

Caster Semenya (C) of South Africa comes through to secure an automatic qualification place following a a highly eventful second 400m of her 800m heat  (Getty Images)

Caster Semenya (C) of South Africa comes through to secure an automatic qualification place following a a highly eventful second 400m of her 800m heat (Getty Images)

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    • (L-R) Svetlana Klyuka of Russia, Hasna Benhassi of Morocco and Zulia Calatayud of Cuba in the women's 800m heats
    • (L-R) Spain's Mayte Martinez, France's Élodie Guégan and Great Britain's Jemma Simpson in the women's 800m heats

    Disaster struck early for Janeth Jepkosgei’s world title defence ambitions, producing the biggest shock of the opening round of the women’s 800m.

    With about 120 metres to go, the Kenyan was accidentally tripped from behind by South African teen Caster Semenya, subsequently tumbled to the track and eventually out of the competition.

    [NOTE: Updated at 14:30 CET (GMT+2): Following an appeal by the Kenyan Federation, Jepkosgei has been added to the semi-finals.]

    Semenya managed to stay on her feet, regrouped and came back to win the race in 2:02.51, just ahead of American Geena Gall (2:02.63) and Ukraine’s Tetiana Petlyuk (2:02.87) who move on to tomorrow’s semi-finals. Jepkosgei, the Olympic silver medallist, eventually got back to her feet and crossed the line dejected in 2:12.81 and an unanticipated early departure from the proceedings.

    “I didn’t see what happened, I just saw (Jepkosgei) fall down and I tried to jump over her,” said Semeya, who burst onto the international scene with her world-leading 1:56.72 at the African junior championships last month. But she didn’t leave the track unaffected. She twisted her ankle in the collision, and was visibly in pain. “At the moment, I can’t feel my ankle. I need to see a physio to check my leg. If it’s not good, I’ll quit.”

    The remaining heats five heats – the top three advanced by right, along with the next six fastest – weren’t nearly as dramatic and went pretty much according to plan.

    Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo took the fifth heat in 2:03.50 after kicking past world leader Maggie Vessey (2:04.07) of the USA down the homestretch, with Jamaican Kenia Sinclair tagging along to the semis.

    European indoor champion, and this year’s fastest entry from the continent, won the second heat in 2:03.27, with Briton Jemma Simpson, Spaniard Mayte Martinez also moving on.

    Ukrainian Yuliya Krevsun (2:02.20) won the third heat from Briton Jenny Meadows and US champion Hazel Clark, who will also advance. Italy’s top middle distance runner of the moment, Elisa Cusma, looked at ease in heat four, winning in 2:02.33 from Pole Anna Rostkowska, Moroccan Halima Hachlaf, and Russian Elena Kofanova.

    Zulia Calatayud, the 2005 World champion, was comfortable in heat six, winning in 2:02.33 ahead of Morocco’s perennial medallist Hasna Benhassi,

    Bob Ramsak for the IAAF