Friday, August 12, 2011

World Championships Preview – 800 Meters

The 800 meters will be exciting in Daegu. On the men’s side because of the presence of World Record holder David Rudisha. On the women’s side because the event is potentially wide open. 




Men’s 800

World Record 1:41.01 David Rudisha KEN
Meet Record 1:43.06 Billy Konchella KEN
2009 Gold 1:45.29 Mbulaeni Mulalaudzi RSA


2011 Best

  1:42.61 David Rudisha KEN
  1:43.13 Abubaker Kaki SUD
  1:43.15 Asbel Kiprop KEN
  1:43.83 Nick Symmonds USA
  1:43.99 Yuriy Borzakovskiy RUS
  1:43.99 David Mutua KEN

The MAN in this event for the past two seasons is WR holder David Rudisha (KEN). Last year he twice lowered Wilson Kipketer’s WR that had lasted some 13 years, clocking first 1:41.09, then 1:41.01. He was undefeated and ranked as the Athlete of the Year. He leads this year’s list, and has been just as dominant in his wins as he was last year.

His chief rival is Abubaker Kaki (SUD) – himself the WJR holder. Kaki has run well this year, and has dropped his 1500 meter PR this summer to a very competitive 3:31.76. He recently tested this improved strength against Rudisha, coming just short in London as the Kenyan won 1:42.91 to 1:43.13. The big question is whether or not Kaki can get closer than that, or ahead of him, in Daegu?

Though #3 on the yearly list, Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, will be contesting the 1500 in Korea. In his stead Rudisha will be joined by Jackson Kivuva (1:44.40) and Alfred Yego (1:44.55). Perhaps opening the door for a non Kenyan to step up on the podium. Veteran Yuriy Borzakovskiy (RUS) could be a candidate. Sixth in Sydney, he was Olympic champion in Athens, silver in Helsinki, bronze in Osaka, and 4th in Berlin. He’s raced sparingly this year, but is he too long in the tooth to reverse his current trend of finishing a position lower in each successive Major?

Another potential candidate for the podium is Nick Symmonds . Sixth in Berlin he is #4 on the yearly list – but only has one 3rd place finish on the circuit to show for it. Symmonds has a fierce kick, but is rarely in range for it to be successful. The question with Symmonds is always just how long will he languish in the back of the pack. If he will stay with the pace, which should be hot with Kaki and Rudisha going at it, he could make a medal run. If not it could be another sixth place finish.

The man who could make the pace, should he make the final, is American Charles Jock, my potential wild card in this race. Jock is a front runner who is guaranteed to be near the front of the pack and in the thick of the race as he has the potential to go out in the mid 49 to mid 50 second range. That would put him somewhere between Rudisha and Kaki on the first lap. My question of Jock is what has he been doing since Nationals as he has yet to race this summer. If that time ahs been spent working on improving his strength, a la Kaki, he could be dangerous – a serious threat to improve on his 1:44.67 best.

All said and done this is really a two man race between Rudisha and Kaki – though Alfred Yego called for a Kenyan sweep after their Trials race. While Kenya does have a storied history in this event, I have to disagree with Yego – I’m not feeling a sweep – though realistically only half the field in the final should really be in contention.

Gold David Rudisha KEN 1:42.20
Silver Abubaker Kaki SUD 1:42 85
Bronze Alfred Yego KEN 1:43.05
Just Missed Yuriy Borzakovskiy RUS 1:43.30



Women’s 800

World Record 1:53.28 Jarmila Kratochvilova CZE
Meet Record 1:54.68 Jarmila Kratochvilova CZE
2009 Gold 1:55.45 Caster Semenya RSA


2011 Best

  1:56.95 Mariya Savinova RUS
  1:56.99 Yuliya Rusanova RUS
  1:57.19 Yekatarina Kostetskaya RUS
  1:58.08 Svetlana Klyuka RUS
  1:58.04 Yelena Kofanova RUS
  1:58.12 Sviatlana Usovic BLR

The Russians are dominating the top of the yearly list, but mainly due to the fast national championship race in Cheboksary. Outside of that race the only Russian to really perform well has been Mariya Savinova with three races in the 1:58 range and a second in Oslo.

The winner in Oslo was Halima Hachlaf (MOR) who did so in a PR 1:58.27. She was also the runner up in Paris (in a slow race), but well back in 7th in Stockholm. One of the workhorses in the event has been Kenia Sinclair (JAM) with wins in Kingston, Eugene, and Stockholm, and a runner up in London. The other workhorse has been Jenny Meadows (GBR) with wins in Shanghai, Birmingham, and London, a second in Stockholm, third in Paris and fifth in Oslo. She enters Daegu on a three meet winning streak and a win over Sinclair in London.

After this grouping things get a bit shaky. Defending champion Caster Semenya (RSA) has only one win in a major race – a 2:00.18 victory in Paris – while finishing second in Eugene, third in Oslo, fifth in Reims, and eighth in Stockholm. U.S. champ Alysia Montano has only a fourth in Paris and a sixth in Stockholm and has yet to break 2:00 since Nationals. And Ukrainian Lilia Lobanova has run the majority of her races in smaller meets “off the grid”. On the clock, no one else outside of those Russians not headed to Daegu, merit mentioning.

Leaving us with a very difficult race to call. Semenya (1st), Meadows (3rd) and Savinova (5th) were all in the Berlin final, and have an advantage in experience. Competitive nature is going to have to drive the rest. Montano is a front runner, so the pace should be decent – making for a fast race. I’m throwing the dice on this one and coming up with:

Gold Mariya Savinova RUS 1:56.20
Silver Caster Semenya RSA 1:56.60
Bronze Jenny Meadows GBR 1:57.40
Just Missed Kenia Sinclair RUS 1:57.60

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