Winning Kiprop, Kwemoi through to finals, Sum crashes out
World champion, Asbel Kiprop delivered a stern statement of intent to reclaim the Olympics crown after winning his semi final in 3 minutes: 39.73 seconds to book his place in tomorrow’s medal race of Rio 2016 Olympics.
Fellow Beijing World women 800m champion, Eunice Sum, crashed out of competition when she finished seventh in the ensuing women 800m semis joined by former World Youth and World junior silver medallist, Winne Chebet.
Compatriot Ronald Kwemoi made sure there would be two Kenyans in the final when he won his semi after the country was dealt a huge blow earlier when Beijing 2016 Worlds silver winner, Elijah Manangoi was forced out of competition with a hamstring injury.
Looking like an upperclassman out for a jog with the college team the 2008 Olympics champion hang at the back while the freshmen forced the pace at the front in the early stages of the race.
Morocco’s Brahim Kaazouzi did the most of the front running, crossing 400m in a languid 1:03.11 before taking the field past the two-lap mark in 2:03.86.
Kenyan born Bahraini runner, Benson Kiplagat Seurei then upped the ante after the bell crossing 1200m at 3:00.50 as the bunched front runners came for the final bend.
Hardly moving out of second gear, Kiprop eased past his challengers to arrive at the line in 3:39.73, looking back to ensure no one would deny him the victory in a conclusion to the race that resembled a walk in the park for the favourite.
Olympic champion, Taofik Makhloufi of Algeria held on to second in 3:39.88 as New Zealander Nick Willis claimed third in 3:39.36 to qualify alongside American runner, Ben Blankenship (3:39.99) and Great Britain’s Charlie Grice (3:40.05) in fourth and fifth at the slow semi.
Kwemoi took the second semi in 3:39.42 that was marginally faster than the heavy fanourite in a race where Uganda’s Ronald Musagala did the pacing through 800m in 2:03.59.
Djibouti’s World Championships bronze winner, Ayanleh Souleiman came up to challenge on the backstretch taking the field through 1200m in 3:00.45, but initially, Matthew Centrowitz of USA held him off.
Kwemoi came at the bell shoulder to shoulder with Centowitcz with Souleiman fully extended on the backstretch.
The Kenyan held on for the win in 3:39.42. Souleiman (3:39.46) and Centrowitz (3:39.61) followed each other across the line to seal the top three.
In the women 800m semis, Margaret Nyairera Wambui won her heat in 1:59.21 ahead of Burundi’s Francice Niyonsaba (1:59.59) who took the second automatic qualifying place ahead of USA’s Ajee Simpson (1:59.75) in the first semi to be the only Kenyan in the medal race.
In the second and third semis, Moscow 2013 Worlds champion, Sum (2:00.88) and Chebet (2:01.90) did not make Saturday’s medal race after finishing in seventh and sixth.
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