Friday, September 2, 2011

Daily Daegu: Maggie Vessey powers into Women's 800 Final

Vessey drops the hammer in the last 10
Maggie Vessey got things started in the night session of Day 7 at Daegu by running a near perfect race in the semis of the Women's 800. Vessey glided by Great Britain's Jenny Meadows in the final meters to secure a spot in the final and thus eliminating Meadows, a medal favorite in the process. Her time was a quick 1:58.98 and was the slowest of the 8 qualifiers for the final. Alysia Montano sprinted into the final as well with one of the two time qualifiers. The other non-auto qualifier was Jamaica's Kenia Sinclair, another favorite. The final is going to be a good one, but watch out for Caster Semenya. As I mentioned on Twitter this morning, it looks like she's been sandbagging. Her final 200 in the semis was lightning fast. If she unleashes something like that in the finals, it will be a fight for Silver.

The Women's 5000 was a hard fought battle between the Kenyans and Ethiopians, specifically the eventual winner, Vivian Cheruiyot, her teammate, Sylvia Kibet (Silver) and Ethiopia's Meseret Defar (Bronze). The only competitor to break up the Kenya/Ethiopia dual meet was our own Lauren Fleshman, who dug deep and kicked down Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba in the final steps, for a very respectable 7th in 15:09.25 (one place better than she finished at USA's). Amy Hastings didn't have it today, but for a marathoner to even make the 5000 Final at Worlds is quite the accomplishment.

In the sprints, Usain Bolt, Walter Dix and Christophe Lemaitre look like the medal favorites in the 200, where Veronica Campbell Brown took Gold in the Women's 200 Final, with Carmelita Jeter taking Silver and Allyson Felix taking Bronze. The Men's 4x400 Relay had to work for it, but in the end, LaShawn Merritt used a miler's sit and kick tactics and powered home on the last straightaway to secure the American Gold.

Day 8 has the Men's 50k Race Walk in the morning and then gets fired up on the Track at night (or the early morning Stateside). The fun starts at 7:15am eastern with the Men's 1500. Matt Centrowitz has surprised with his calm and veteran-like demeanor in qualifying for his first World Final. Should we really be that surprised though? Centro has proved to be an excellent rounds and tactical race runner. The final should see how good he really is. A medal shouldn't be out of the question, and at minimum, he should be there in the mix with 200 to go. He'll have quite the competition, with Kenyan favorites Asbel Kiprop ('08 Olympic Gold Medalist) and Silas Kiplagat ('11 World Leader), as well as Nick Willis ('08 Silver Medalist), Mehdi Baala ('08 Bronze Medalist), plus many others, including the most improved, and most beloved, "Bullet with the Mullet," Ireland's (via Florida State) Ciaran O'Lionaird. Check out Flotrack's prediction contest as well.

Closing out Day 8 will be three sprint races. The first is Women's 4x400 Relay at 7:40am. Can they match the Men's Gold? Next up is the Women's 100 hurdles at 8:00am, where they have to run the semis 1:45 beforehand. Closing out the day at 8:20am will be Mr. Bolt vs. the World in the Men's 200 final. Walter Dix looked great in the semis, but can he stay within a few tenths of the king? We'll see. He may not have to if Bolt "false starts" again.

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