Athletics Athletics

‘King David’, Kitum soar to men 800m finals


NAIROBI, Kenya, August 7- World record holder David Rudisha and his World Junior silver medallist compatriot Timothy Kitum will carry Kenya’s flag to Thursday’s men 800m Olympics final after safely navigating through the semis.

Both first-timers at the greatest sporting carnival on earth earned their slots in the decider after winning and finishing second respectively in the keenly contested Wednesday night penultimate races as teammate Anthony Chemut saw his hopes axed by a fourth placing in his event.

Moments after Chemut ended his interest in the medals after going out in the first event, Rudisha laid down a marker by controlled running from the start.

However, 2004 Olympic champion and veteran Russian, Yuriy Borzakovsky briefly took the lead at the bell in 51.30 and this prompted the World, African and Continental titleholder to open up his powerful strides to pound the track unchallenged to the line in 1:44.35.

The Team Kenya captain who is dead-set to lead by example by winning his first Olympic gold did not deploy all the afterburners, using measured acceleration to swat the threat of fast finishing home runner, Andrew Osagie (1:44.87) and America Nick Symmonds (1:44.87) who came in second and third.

It was the end of an era in men 800m running as Borzakovsky saw his charge quelled by youngsters with a fifth finish (1:45.09).

In the subsequent heat, Kitum engaged a furious sprint from the outside on the homestretch to punch his ticket for the medal race in 1:44.63 that was only bettered by Ethiopia’s World Indoor winner, Mohammed Aman who posted 1:44.34, the fastest of the night, to carry the honours.

Kitum, a Commonwealth Youth champion and World Youth bronze winner who is still 17 years-old found the inside lane locked as American Duane Solomon crossed the 400m mark in 51.18.

With Aman pushing the front runner from the inside, the Kenyan tried to go to the outside with 300m to go but he was checked in but with the finish in sight, his second burst of speed was enough to take him home.

Duane was third in 1:44.93 to join compatriot Symmonds in the finals as the two fastest losers.

In heat one, Chemut paid for lack of finishing speed when Worlds silver medallist and two-time World Indoors winner, Abubaker Kaki of Sudan set about a gun to tape performance that saw him romp to victory in 1:44.51.

World Junior winner, Botswana’s sensation Nijel Amos followed him through in 1:44.54 to clinch the second automatic place as fading Chemut (1:45.63) saw Poland’s Adam Kszczot (1:45.34) went past for third but in the end, it was all academic since their race was the slowest of the three semis.

Rudisha and Kitum will be out to defend the vacated by the now retired television pundit, Wilfred Bungei.