Two fastest athletes in the history of the event, David Rudisha and Nijel Amos, by the will of the draw, had to meet in the semi-finals. After Sunday’s race, one of them continues his run for IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 medals, while the other had to wrap up his campaign.
In the first of three semi-finals, all the athletes seemed inclined to run fast, but no one wanted to lead.
Poland’s Adam Kszczot had to take on this responsibility 200 metres into the race. He remained in pole position all the way, immediately reacting to every threat. Being at the front also saved him from involvement in a slight collision between Thimjen Kupers and the defending champion Mohammed Aman with about 200 metres to go.
Kszczot looked like a clear winner while he was powerfully charging down the home stretch while his closest pursuer, Kenya’s Alfred Kipketer, was struggling and losing his form.
However, with 50 metres to go, the Pole started to run out of stream and the race ended with a blanket finish of four me.
The photo finish showed that Kszczot still came out on top with a time of 1:44.97 and the 18-year-old Kipketer, the youngest man in the field and a former world youth champion over two laps of the track, was the runner up, just 0.02 behind, the pair capturing the two automatic qualifying spots.
Aman and the Frenchman Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, two other participants of the blanket finish, set themselves up for a possible qualification by time by posting 1:45.01 and 1:45.02, respectively.
However, Aman was eventually disqualified for obstructing Kupers and forfeited his place in the final.
The participants of the second semi-final didn’t seem to learn the danger of allowing Rudisha to lead in a preliminary round from yesterday’s heats and this race ended by producing one of the biggest upsets of the night.
Rudisha set a moderate pace right from the start, taking the field through in a gentle 54.04, almost two seconds slower than in the first semi-final. As his rivals didn’t seem in the mood to make a move, the London 2012 Olympic Games champion saved his energy for the home stretch and his finishing spurt was impossible to match, coming home the clear winner in 1:47.70.
Behind the Kenyan, there was a fierce battle for the second automatic qualification spot between Amos and the Qatar’s Musaeb Balla.
Balla came up on the inside close to the curb, with Amos out in lane two. and stuck his chest out on the line to clinch the runner-up spot in 1:47.93.
The Botswanan was a mere 0.03 behind but with this semi-final being so slow, it was quickly known that no one else would progress to the final other than the first two and last year’s Diamond Race winner was out.
In the last and the fastest semi-final, the world leader Amel Tuka once again chased the initial race leader, Ferguson Rotich, down from the back of the field and edged him out on the line, clocking 1:44.84.
Rotich, who was just 0.01 behind the much-improved Bosnian, made it three for three for Kenya as far as 900m finalists were concerned.
Morocco’s 21-year-old Nader Belhanbel, the third-place finisher in the last semi-final with 1:45.28 went through with Bosse from the first heat to the final on Tuesday night as non-automatic qualifiers.
Elena Dyachkova for the IAAF