Athletics

Comfortable Ferguson Rotich, Korir through to 800m final

Comfortable won for Ferguson Rotich

Ferguson Rotich easily won his heat while Emmanuel Korir worked hard to finish second as both Kenyans progressed to the final of the 800m at the Olympic Games in Tokyo on Sunday. Meanwhile, the third Kenyan in the race, Michael Saruni, failed to make the final after finishing his heat in sixth.

Rotich was the most impressive of the three Kenyans as he galloped to the finish line in the final 100m to make the final with the fastest qualification time of 1:44.04 ahead of Bosnian Amel Tuka.

Rotich’s heat was full of drama as Nijel Amos of Botswana clipped the heel of American Isaiah Jewett at the back straight, the two men coming tumbling down. The Kenyan who was running just behind them managed to skip over the heap of bodies and strode home to the finish line.

He was delighted with the victory which he earned comfortable and was vehemently punching the air in glee even before he could cross the line.

“When you are in good shape things tend to work out well. Today’s race was good. My expectations of running in the finals are finally here and I thank God for helping me reach this target. Now I think I am in superb shape,” said Rotich after his semis.

Ferdinand Rotich glides away from Nijel Amos

He added; “When I was in the call room I remember telling the guys ‘good luck guys’, so I knew it was going to be a tough one, thanks God I managed.”

All through the preliminary rounds to the semis, Rotich has been employing a tactic of running at the back of the pack then attacking from the outside in the final 200m. He did exactly that in the semis. He was second from behind at the ball and seemed as though he wouldn’t be fighting for qualification.

But at the 200m mark, just as he jumped over Nijel and Jewett on the ground, he skipped out wide to take on the leading pack of four.

Using his long strides, Rotich who finished fifth at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio picked out the leading pack one by one and in the last 50m, it was just him against the clock and he gleefully took charge to win.

Meanwhile, Korir had to dig deep into his energy reserves to claim a place in the final after coming off second from his heat. Korir who earlier on in the morning had seen his possible dream of an Olympic double quashed after false starting in the 400m couldn’t possibly fathom a second heartbreak in a day.

Emmanuel Korir fights to qualify from his hea

He fought hard, dipping his head over the line to just but clinch second spot clocking 1:44.74 behind Dobek Patryk from Poland who timed 1:44.60.He just but managed to beat Mexican Jesus Tonatiu who timed 1:44.77.

In the second heat, Michael Saruni could not make it to the final after only coming sixth, timing 1:44.54 in a very fast heat won by Australian Peter Bol who had a time of 1:44.11.

Earlier on in the morning, Kenya’s quest for an elusive gold in the women’s steeple chase remained on course with two of the three representatives sailing to the final.

World record holder Beatrice CHepkoech finished second in her heat while 2015 World Champion Hyvin Kiyeng won her heat.

Kiyeng won Heat Three in a time of 9:23.17 while Chepkoech was third in her heat, though she ran faster than Kiyeng, clocking 9:19.82.

Beatrice Chepkoech leading her heat

Kiyeng controlled her race, sticking to the front from gun to tape. At the last water hurdle, she was in the lead in a group of five, all who looked ken to clinch one of the top three automatic qualifying slots.

Cheruiyot seemed to struggle and disclosed after the race that she had been battling a tendon strain.

“I’m struggling with tendon injury. It’s really painful as it’s my first time to suffer such an injury this year. But I will keep fighting in the final. What is remaining now is to go for the podium on Wednesday. It is never easy though,” the world record holder said after the race.

Kenya’s other representative in the race, Purity Kirui could not make the final after finishing sixth in her head and falling off the automatic or even non-automatic qualification slots.

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