Olympics: Rotich, Saruni and Korir qualify for 800m semi-final

Semi-final will take place on Sunday.

Kenya's Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich (L) and Australia's Peter Bol compete in the men's 800m heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 31, 2021. (Photo by Antonin THUILLIER / AFP) (Photo by ANTONIN THUILLIER/AFP via Getty Images)

Kenyan trio; Ferguson Rotich, Michael Saruni and Emmanuel Korir progressed to the 800m semi-final early Saturday morning.

The men’s 800m heats got off to a sensational start when Isaiah Jewett blazed the first lap in 51.65 then kicked even harder.

The American ultimately paid for his aggression and Ferguson Rotich of Kenya kicked by to win in 1:43.75. The previous fastest Olympic heat was 1:44.69 by Wilson Kipketer in 2004 and the fastest qualification was 1:43.79 by Norberto Tellez in the 1996 semi finals.

In second place Australia’s Peter Bol set an area record of 1:44.13 and Elliot Giles ran a controlled and sensible 1:44.49 in third to pass Jewett down the straight who held on to finish fifth and qualify as a fastest loser in 1:45.07.

Korir won heat 6 of the first round of competition in 1:45.33, a hundreth of a second better than Poland’s Mateusz Borkowski.

Korir currently possesses the second-fastest 800m time in the world in 2021 (1:43.04) and won the heat with a strong push in the final 50 meters of the race. He will run in heat 1 of the semi-finals tomorrow, August 1.

Meanwhile, Saruni who made his first ever Olympics in a team Kenya singlet had to dig deep before coming through second in heat two. The American based athlete had stuck at fourth from the bell and seemed to be waning in the final lap.

However, Saruni used a strong final push down the stretch to manage a second place finish in heat 4 of the first round of the 800m, putting together a time of 1:45.21, just behind first place finisher, Nijel Amos of Botswana (Amos has the fastest time in 2021).

The champion at the Kenyan Olympic Trials, Saruni’s finish to his heat means he’s also headed to the semi-finals, he will race in heat 2 tomorrow.

A new winner is set to emerge in Tokyo for the first time since 2012, after double Olympic gold medallist Kenyan David Rudisha's persistent injuries denied him the chance to defend his title, kicking the race wide open.

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