Monday, 17 August 2009

Event Report - Women's 800m - Semi-Final

(L-R) Elena Kofanova of Russia and Elisa Cusma Piccione of Italy compete in the women's 800m semi-final in Berlin  (Getty Images)

(L-R) Elena Kofanova of Russia and Elisa Cusma Piccione of Italy compete in the women's 800m semi-final in Berlin (Getty Images)

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    • Tetiana Petlyuk of Ukraine and 800m World Leader Caster Semenya of South Africa compete in the women's 800m semi-final
    With just two moving on automatically, the 800m semis can be brutal. This year’s were not different, but most medal contenders managed to move on to Wednesday’s final.

    But not Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo. Last year’s sole winner of the $1 million AF Golden League Jackpot ended her first World championship appearance when she stepped off the track just before reaching the 600 metre point in the third heat of three, apparently injured.

    She was left in Italian Elisa Cusma’s wake, who looked comfortable in the home stretch en route to her 2:00.62 win.

    “This year I’m very confident,” said the 28-year-old Italian, who has raced competitively in all her appearances this season.

    Behind her Marilyn Okoro took the next qualifying spot, but the pedestrian pace of the race left behind the likes of Jamaican Kenia Sinclair and American Maggie Vessey, the season’s second fastest, who was never really in the contest.

    In the first heat, Ukrainian Yuliya Krevsun (1:59.38) decided to play it safe by jumping to a massive lead by the time she lead the field through the half. Mariya Savinova (1:59.30), this year’s Russian No. 1, managed to catch her a couple of steps before the line, but the Ukrainian’s front-running paid off to advance to her second straight major global final.

    With a season’s best of 1:59.72, Spaniard Mayte Martinez moved on as one of the two next fastest, but Moroccan Hasna Benhassi, who has won medals at each of the last two World championships and Olympic Games, finished fourth, ending her impressive global final streak. The heat also claimed 2005 World champion, Cuba’s Zulia Calatayud, who was a distant seventh.

    Looking the strongest and producing the quickest time of the night was World leader and 2009 breakout Caster Semenya. After sitting patiently off the lead early on, the 18-year-old South African went to the front with about 250 metres to go and stayed there, reaching the line in 1:58.66. Briton Jenny Meadows closed with a strong quick and barreled down the homestretch to finish second in 1:59.45.

    Defending champion Janeth Jepkosgei, who tussled for the lead with Semenya early on, crossed the line in third in 1:59.45, to advance as the fastest non-automatic qualifier.

    Bob Ramsak for the IAAF