Champion Bett out as twin brother Koech, Mucheru sail through


Kenya's Haron Koech (R) competes in the Men's 400m Hurdles Round 1 during the athletics event ...
Kenya's Haron Koech (R) competes in the Men's 400m Hurdles Round 1 during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 15, 2016. OLIVIER MORIN / AFP

World men 400m Hurdles champion, Nicholas Bett crashed out of the Rio 2016 Olympics during the dramatic heats that saw twin brother Aron Koech win the next race to be joined in the semis by African champion, Boniface Mucheru on Monday.

Despite his modest form this season, Bett was cruising to victory in lane eight of the fifth heat but started to over-stride coming into the final hurdle. His rhythm gone, he crashed through the barrier and jogged through the line.

It was a moot point as Bett was not going to qualify anyway but, shortly after crossing the line, insult was added to a very minor injury when the judges disqualified him for pushing over the hurdle.

As if affronted by the misfortune, his twin brother Koech who took bronze at the Durban African Championships went out in heat six and sped to victory in a personal best 48.77, and the manner in which he achieved his win will have been a warning that while Bett may no longer be a factor in Rio, his compatriots could still be medal contenders.

Running on the outside lane, South African Van Zyl had lead most of the race before Koech stormed through the middle and overtook him in the final hurdle to clock his personal best in the final heat of the day.

Mucheru was beaten to second in his preliminary race by a national record uncorked by Algeria’s Abdelmalik Lahoulou who took it in 48.62 with the fifth finisher at last year’s Beijing Worlds stopped the timer at 48.91.

Jamaica’s Annsert Whyte led the qualifiers with an impressive 48.37 heat win on a hot and sunny morning in Rio, with the temperatures in the mid-20s.

It was a bad morning for some other big names as well.

Bett’s predecessor as world champion, Trinidad and Tobago’s 2013 gold medallist Jehue Gordon, was also eliminated although that was less of a surprise as Gordon has been struggling for top fitness and had not broken 50 seconds in 2016 prior to arriving in Rio.

London 2012 Olympic Games and 2013 world championships silver medallist Michael Tinsley, who could finish no higher than sixth in his heat in 50.18, was also eliminated as was Switzerland’s 2014 European champion Kariem Hussein.

Two-time former world champion Kerron Clement glided around the track in the first heat and secure n the knowledge that he was safely through as one of the three automatic qaulifiers, just eased his foot of the accelerator.

Material from IAAF/iaaf.org used to compile this report

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Story By Eric Kagunda
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