NAIROBI, Kenya, July 29 – Reigning African 800 metres champion David Rudisha eased into the final of his specialty on day two of the African athletics Championships at Nyayo National Stadium.
The 21 year old led heat two from start to finish to win in 1:46.59 ahead of former World champion Alfred Kirwa Yego who came in second to also seal a place in the final.
Speaking afterwards, Rudisha said that he was hopeful of defending his crown in Friday’s final.
“I won the title in Addis and would want to defend it. I have also run the fastest times in the world this year, and people expect me to deliver and live up to expectations,” said Rudisha.
He however pointed out that time will be secondary to winning, “I really don’t think it will be fast, it might be 1:45 or even 1:46 but all that matters is winning.”
On his part, Kirwa Yego was content with making the final of yet another major championship and predicated a Kenyan battle for honours, “With all of us qualified, it will be a very tough race because we will be favourites.
Jackson Kivuva completed a trio of Kenyans through to the final winning his heat in 1:49.48. The diminutive Kenyan had to shift through the gears coming off the final bend to hold off Wola Gende Shiferaw to win the heat.
In the 400 metres semifinals, Anderson Mureta and Mark Mutai both qualified for the final.
Mutai finished second in his heat clocking 45.69 seconds behind 2006 African champion Gary Kikaya who won in 45.55.
Mureta then made up for a lackluster performance on Wednesday with an impressive run finishing second to make the final in a time of 45.83 seconds.
Olympic 1500 metres champion Nancy Jebet Langat is also through to the final after winning her heat in 4:15.84. The mother of two hung at the back of the pack for most of the race, before applying her deadly finishing kick.
Ann Karindi squeezed though to the final as one of the fastest losers after finishing fifth in 4:17.21.
Earlier, Irene Jelegat easily swept through to the final in 4:13.97 having led from gun to tape
Ethiopia’s 2008 World Indoor champion Gelete Burka scraped thorough after finishing third in the second heat.
In the women’s 100 metres hurdles Florence Wasike could only manage sixth place in race won by Nigeria’s Sen Adigun. Wasike trailed from the start clocking 14.21 seconds.