NAIROBI, August 23- The stars aligned for world record holder, David Rudisha and his Kenyan teammates, Ferguson Rotich and Alfred Kipketer at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing after the trio swept to Tuesday’s men 800m finals in dramatic semis at the Bird’s Nest.
The two fastest athletes in history of the two-lap race, Rudisha and Nijel Amos, by the will of the draw, had to meet in the semi-finals and affter Sunday’s race, one of them continues his run for medals, while the other had to wrap up his campaign.
Rudisha who came to Beijing as an underdog delivered a tactical master class to land a knockout blow to main challenger and title favourite, Olympics silver medallist and Commonwealth champion, Amos, of Botswana.
The record set a moderate pace right from the start, taking the field through in a gentle 54.04, almost two seconds slower than in the first semi-final.
As his rivals didn’t seem in the mood to make a move, the London 2012 Olympic Games champion saved his energy for the home stretch and his finishing spurt was impossible to match, coming home the clear winner in 1:47.70.
Behind him, Qatari Musaeb Abdulrahman Balla (1:47.93) just edged out the Commonwealth champion for the second automatic qualification spot in a breathtaking dash for the line and being the slowest semi, Amos was eliminated with his third placed 1:47.96 not ranking among the second fastest losers.
“I’m coming back from a career threatening injury and I was able to control the race from the beginning to the end. I thank God I’m back to almost my best and we cannot take anything for granted,” Rudisha said at the mixed zone.
That was the second stunning outcome of the semis following the first race where reigning world champion, Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia was disqualified for pushing Thijmen Kupers 300m to the finish.
It means the finals will not have the two athletes who have beaten Rudisha who was seemingly untouchable for five seasons as he set three world records besides winning the 2011 world and 2012 Olympics titles, the latter in the 1:40.91 world record.
European champion, Adam Kszczot, led from the first bend to take the honours in 1:44.97 with World junior and world youth champion, Kipketer, taking second in 1:44.99 to assure his place in Monday’s medal race.
Aman who has looked out of sorts this season had worked his way to finish third and was in line to take one of the quickest loser slots but France record holder, Pierre-Ambroise Bosse (1:45.02) will take his place in the decider.
Bahamas World Relays silver medallist and Kenya Trial winner, Ferguson Rotich, did the front running in the third semi but fast charging breakout star, Bosnia’s Amel Tuka, came through to take the win in 1:44.84 against 1:44.85 as Morocco’s Nader Belhabel (1:45.28) joined them in the final as a fastest qualifier.
“I’m happy now after being disqualified in Moscow. We can no go on and try to win all the medals,” Rotich who stunned Rudisha at the August 1 Kenyan Trial for Beijing in his most famous result yet, expressed.
In what could be a fore bearer of the finishing positions in the women 1500m final, Commonwealth Champion, Faith Chepng’etich, followed record holder and Ethiopia’s favourite, Genzebe Dibaba, in their Sunday’s semis.
After running together in the heats and again in the penultimate round of the championships, the national record holder declared she would go out and run her race on Tuesday instead of being concerned by the title favourite that is doubling in 5000m.
“‘I will gauge how my body responds then decide how to approach the final. I don’t want to target her,” the two-time World Cross junior champion declared.
With a 58-second last lap, Dibaba held on to her lead to book her place in the final, winning in 4:06.74. Kipyegon finished a close second in 4:06.88 and looked as though she had more left in the tank.
Kenya’s other representative, Nancy Chekwemoi, was eliminated after taking the wooden spoon in the first semi in 4:18.15 on her debut at the Worlds.