Caster cruises, Akani scrapes in
ALL the big names advanced from the first round of the women’s 1500 metres last night, an event that is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing of the World Athletics Championships in London.
Ethiopia’s defending champion Genzebe Dibaba showed the way by winning the first heat in a sharp four minutes 2.67 seconds but jogging in just behind her was Caster Semenya, the South African Olympic 800m champion who is attempting the middle-distance double.
Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, owner of the three fastest times this season, won a slower second heat ahead of 2011 world champion Jenny Simpson of the United States but remains favourite, though Kenya’s Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon showed she will be in the mix with a strong run to take the third heat.
There was plenty for the home fans to cheer too with four Britons progressing – Jessica Judd, Laura Muir, Laura Weightman and, with a personal best to snatch a fastest loser slot, Sarah McDonald. The semi-finals take place today with the final on Monday.
South Africa’s prime hope in the 100m, Akani Simbine, ran a disappointing 10.15sec in his heat, for fourth spot.
Luckily for him, this time was just good enough to make it into the semi-finals as the fastest loser.
Thando Roto, the other South African in the short sprint, unfortunately did not even reach the finish line in his heat, false-starting and being disqualified.
Jamaican Usain Bolt, in his final major meeting, over- came an iffy start in his heat, winning in 10.07sec, to move through to the semi-finals.
There was much better news for South Africa in the qualifying round of the long jump for men. South Africa had three contenders in the event, with two of them qualifying comfortably for the final.
Luvo Manyonga has been the premier leaper this year, and his jump of 8.12m earned him fourth place among the 12 qualifiers for the final tonight.
However, last night he was pipped by two centimetres by countryman Ruswahl Samaai, who ended the qualifying round in third spot. Zarck Visser failed to progress.
The top two qualifiers were the Czech Republic’s Radek Juska ( 8.24m) and Cuba’s Maykel Masso (8.15m). Olympic champion Jeff Henderson failed to make the final.