Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya unleashed a late charge from far down the field to steal the 1500m bronze medal in a tight world championship contest in London on Monday night.
Third-last going into the final lap and fifth into the home straight, Semenya chased down the front-runners, but had to dip on the line to nudge British favourite Laura Muir off the podium by seven-hundredths of a second.
Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, the Olympic 1500m champion, won in 4min 02.59sec ahead of American Jennifer Simpson (4:02.76).
Semenya, who fell to the ground after losing her balance in the battle for the line, clocked 4:02.90.
Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, the fastest in the world this year, died in the sprint for the line, fading to fifth in 4:03.34.
Muir took the early lead from the start, setting a slow pace that probably helped the South African.
But when Hassan and Kipyegon attacked just after midway, Semenya slipped to near the back before producing fireworks almost reminiscent of her performance here at the 2012 London Olympics.
Then, Semenya came from the back of the field in the 800m to take the silver, which is set to be upgraded to gold following the disqualification for doping of champion Mariya Savinova of Russia.
Semenya will compete again here on Thursday, in the 800m heats.
Earlier, Wayde van Niekerk ran as smooth as silk to advance past the 200m heats, reaching the halfway mark of his double attempt.
Friend Akani Simbine, managing his hip impingement, also went through, but matric pupil Clarence Munyai, after thinking he had joined his more famous teammates in the semifinals, was disqualified for a lane violation.
Wenda Nel qualified from the women’s 400m hurdles heats, finishing second in 55.49sec.
Van Niekerk was slow out the blocks but then picked up his pace around the bend to take the lead into the home straight ahead of Briton Daniel Talbot.
The Olympic champion, who attempts to defend his 400m world title tonight, eased off to allow Talbot to cross the line with him, both clocking 20.16.
For Van Niekerk, it’s three races down and three to go.
He has been through the 400m heats and semifinals and now the 200m preliminaries; he faces the 400m final tonight and the 200m semifinals and final over the next two nights.
Simbine secured his spot in the 200m semifinals tomorrow(WED) night by finishing second in his race behind America Isiah Young, clocking 20.26.
“It’s holding up,” said Simbine, who finished fifth in the 100m despite his hip woes. “I get treatment every day. We’re managing it right now so it’s getting there.”
He insisted he was looking to enjoy himself rather than being hellbent on trying to share the podium with Van Niekerk, as he had stated last week.
“Let’s just hope and see what happens. I’m really hoping just to get through each round and finish off healthy. That’s the most important part,” said Simbine, a semifinalist of this event at the last world championships in Beijing two years ago.
“The 200m for me is the more enjoyable race because I don’t have too much pressure as the 100m,” added Simbine.
“I decided let me just run and see what happens. I don’t put so much expectations on myself. I said to my body ‘let’s go and run and see what we can put out’.”
But poor Munyai, third in his heat, spoke to journalists afterwards thinking he had qualified with a 20.19 effort that nearly matched his 20.10 personal best.
He spoke about chasing a spot in the final alongside Van Niekerk and Simbine, but soon afterwards a DQ was placed alongside his name, crushing his dream.
There were some big-name casualties in the 200m, like Isaac Makwala, the Botswana star who was the quickest over this distance this year ahead of Van Niekerk.
He failed to start the race, and there was speculation he may have fallen victim to the food poisoning that hit members of the German team.
Jamaican Warren Weir and Alonso Edwards of Panama both failed to go through, clocking 20.60 and 20.61 respectively.
Kenyan Kalalei triumphs in Athens Marathon
Samuel Kalalei won the 35th Athens Classic Marathon on Sunday as Kenyan runners dominated the grueling, largely uphill course by sweeping the top five places in the men’s race.
The 23-year-old crossed the line in two hours, 12 minutes and 17 seconds, ahead of Milton Kiplagat Rotich, who clocked 2:14.18, with Jonathan Kiptoo Yego in third at 2:16.08.
The women’s race was won by 18-year-old Ethiopian Bedaru Hirpa Badane in a time of 2:34.18.
Around 18,500 runners from dozens of countries took part in the authentic marathon which began near the tumulus erected for the Greek dead from the Battle of Marathon.
Another 30,000 participated in the shorter 5km and 10km races in downtown Athens.
According to legend, the 42km route from Marathon to Athens was first run by Pheidippides, an Athenian messenger who in 490 BC dashed to the city to announce victory over the Persians, before dying of exhaustion.
Run on a four-lane concrete avenue through the urban districts of east Athens with a finish at the all-marble Panathenaic Stadium, the site of the 1896 Olympics, the race is a challenge for runners as much of it is uphill.
Moroccan born European 5000m champion arrested in doping raid
Reigning European 5000m champion Ilias Fifa was arrested in Barcelona on Wednesday as part of a doping probe, sources of the investigation confirmed.
Fifa, born in Morocco but who has represented Spain since 2015, was arrested at his home on Wednesday morning in Santa Coloma de Gramenet on the outskirts of the Catalan capital.
The 28-year-old is just one of a number of arrests being carried out in operations « for crimes against public health and the use of medications with great danger to health » said a statement from the Catalan High Court of Justice.
The Court also confirmed the operation carried out on Wednesday began with a police investigation back in June.
Fifa took advantage of Mo Farah’s absence to claim European gold at the 2016 European Championships in Amsterdam.
That had been the crowning glory in an inspiring rise to fame as Fifa arrived in Spain 11 years ago as an immigrant hiding in a truck.
Rooney ponders switch to 800m
Martyn Rooney is the first to admit his 2017 has hardly been a year to remember but big changes could be on the horizon as he ponders a switch to the 800m.
The two-time European 400m champion anchored Great Britain to 4x400m bronze at the World Championships in London this summer, yet has struggled with his performances in the individual event.
He finished sixth in his heat in the capital with a third-place finish in Brussels, his best performance on the Diamond League circuit.
But the 30-year-old insists that he desperately needs a motivational spark and that could come in doubling his distance on the track – a move recommended to him by Lord Seb Coe.
Yet Rooney is under no illusions as to the challenges that await if he is to switch, knowing only too well he can’t take anything for granted at this stage of his career.
« I have to find some new goals and find something that is going to excite me, » he said.
« Seb Coe says I need to go and run an 800m, so we’ll see what the winter brings.
« A change is as good as a rest and there are some great 800m coaches in Loughborough, so it would be great to jump into a couple of sessions and see how it goes.
« It’s not been a great year – in fact it’s been an awful year – but it’s a year when I asked for two things: a healthy baby [his daughter Ciada was born in August] and a world medal.
« I got both. I got the things I wanted, so I can’t be greedy. It’s my 11th year on the circuit and sometimes, you are going to have a bad year. »
While the athletics world is turning its attentions to next year’s Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast, Rooney faces the possibility of remaining on British shores after not reaching the qualifying standard.
But an opportunity could arise if selectors decide to send a relay squad Down Under, with Rooney even offering to pay his own way.
« The Commonwealth Games is completely out of my control, » he said.
« I haven’t hit the standard and they don’t know if they are going to take a relay team because of the cost.
« I’ve said I’ll pay for my flights. I don’t mind doing it but it’s up to the selectors and whether they want to take a team or not.
« My senior individual debut was in Melbourne, so it would be nice to go back and have another go.
« With a good winter behind me, you never know what could happen. »
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