Athletics Athletics

Koech fails to progress to 400m Hurdles final

Haron Koech participating in the 400m Hurdles heats at the Rio Olympics in 2016. PHOTO/IAAF

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 7- Just like it happened in Beijing two years ago, Haron Koech’s hopes of making it into the finals of the IAAF World Championships for the first time in his career crumbled like a pack of cards as he bowed out in the semi-finals of the London showpiece on Monday night.

The 2016 African bronze medalist came home second from last in his heat, meaning Kenya will have no one to defend the title won by Koech’s elder brother Nicholas Bett, with the champion having withdrawn from the championship due to injury.

Koech clocked a slow time of 50.40 despite having started well running on the outside lane nine with a reaction time of 0.174. USA’s TJ holmes who had a slower reaction time compared to the Kenyan won the race easily in a time of 49.12 with Switzerland’s Kariem Hussein coming home second.

The Kenyan gave a thrust heading into the first 100, but seemed to struggled as the race progressed especially in clearing the hurdles.

Heading into the home straight, it seemed all over for Koech as he seemed to struggle more with the other pack of athletes wheezing past him as he attempted to gather up and dig deeper into his energy reserves.

A last place finish seemed a likelihood, but he managed to dip his head at the finish line to come home in seventh ahead of Estonian Jaak-Heinrich Jagor.

Earlier, Mark Otieno’s hopes of making it into the semi finals of the 200m were dashed as he fell way off qualification, finishing sixth in the second heat won by Trinidad and Tobago’s Jareem Richards.

Otieno who reached the first round of the 100m lacked the finishing kick despite some good take off and he could only manage to come home second from last in a time of 20.41. He however clocked the 32nd fastest time out of the 45 athletes who lined up.

South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk reacts after a heat of the men’s 200m in London on August 7, 2017

With Botswana’s Isaac Makwala pulling out, Africa’s hopes will now lay on South African 400m world record holder Wayde Van Niekerk who produced a relaxed run to win his heat in 201.16, less than 24 hours before he parades for the 400m final.

Van Niekerk could afford a smile as he strode into the finish line cheekily stealing glances on the right for Britain’s Daniel Talbot who had put in a fight to try and knick away the win, only coming short with one hundredth of a second.

The 25-year-old is hoping to emulate American legend Michael Johnson in 1995 by winning 200m and 400m world gold. Fellow South African Akani Simbine also made it into the final after coming in second in his heat.

Jamaica’s Yohan Blake who is seen as the likely candidate for gold in the absence of compatriot Usain Bolt also easily made it into the semis winning his heat in 20.39 without breaking a sweat.