NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 5- The front running trio of Emmanuel Korir, Ferguson Rotich and World Junior champions Kipyegon Bett all eased to the semi-finals of the 800m at the IAAF World Championships in London as Kenya seeks to retain the crown in the absence of holder David Rudisha.
The fourth Kenyan, Michael Saruni who had earlier been axed by Athletics Kenya (AK) had been listed as a starter in Heat Five but had a DNS (Did Not Start) with sources intimating he had faced last minute visa hitches thus preventing him from travelling.
He had been included after Rudisha’s withdrawal due to injury, but his Visa application hit a snag and the opportunity of racing in his first ever World Championships blew up in smoke.
The three Kenyans will now carry the hopes of title retention into the semi-finals on Sunday night.
Bett had the fastest qualifying time of the three, crossing the finish line first in 1:45.76 ahead of Andrea Kramer. Bett stuck up to Krammer from the first lap when the Swede bolted up to the lead and opened up to the front in the final 300metres.
Rotich also eased to victory in quick time in the second heat, keeping a front-running tactic to win in 1:45.77 with a 400m split of 51.95. Puerto Rico’s Rayan Shanchez pushed him in the final lap, but his long strides eased him up as he comfortably sailed to the finish line.
USA’s Isaiah Harris came in second with a late thrust of pace while home boy Elliot Giles came in third.
World leader Emmanuel Korir also ran comfortably enroute to winning his heat, crossing the line in a slower pace of 1:47.08 ahead of Poland’s Michael Rozmys who was one hundredth of a second behind him.
There was a moment of brotherhood at the end of the race when Korir and the Pole shared hearty smiles with Rozmys showing Korir that he had a Kenyan flag wristband just like his.