RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, Aug 16- The Kenyan duo of Boniface Mucheru and Haron Koech both progressed to the final of the 400m hurdles to be held on Thursday evening after finishing second in their respective semi-final races early Wednesday morning.
Mucheru managed to shake off a poor start to power home in the final 50m and pick the second available automatic slot while Koech, twin brother to reigning world champion Nicholas Bett who crashed off in the heats ran tactically well only lacking in the final kick.
Despite the third slowest reaction time in his heat, including knocking off the first hurdle, Mucheru managed to recover well in the final 100m, moving up from second last to pip Spanish man Sergio Fernandez by two micro seconds and finish the race in a season’s best time of 48.85.
Two-time world champion and title favorite Kerron Clement from the United States won the semi to qualify for the final in a season’s best time of 48.26, which was the fastest qualifying time from the semis.
In the third semi-final, Koech coming off lane six managed to have a good start to the race, having the quickest reaction time off the blocks and maintaining his momentum to the end to finish in a personal best time of 48.49.
Ireland’s Thomas Barr dug deeper into his energy reserves in the final 20m, managing to beat Koech to the line in 48.39, a new national record for the European nation.
Koech will hope to make amends for his twin in the final, the reigning world champion having had a disastrous end to his Olympic dream, failing to maneuver past the penultimate hurdle in the heats and ultimately disqualified.
The race was a poor culmination of an otherwise torrid season for Bett who had so much expectation after surprisingly winning Kenya the hurdles medal in the World Championships in Beijing last year.