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Why Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich is the man to watch in Doha tonight

ATHLETICS By Dennis Okeyo and IAAF | October 1st 2019 | 5 min read
Kenya's Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich starts in the Men's 800m heats at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on September 28, 2019. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich will be the lone ranger in men’s 800m final tonight after his compatriots were knocked out at the ongoing IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar.

The Kericho-based Rotich, who is appearing in his fourth global championships, timed one minute, 44.20 seconds to finish second in Sunday’s first semi-final head behind Purto Rican Wesley Vazquez.

The 2016 Diamond League winner Rotich will be attempting to land his first international medal having appeared in seven finals without a medal; three worlds, two African Championships finals, one Olympics and Commonwealth Games.

“I have gained enough experience to aim for a podium finish; I also know it will be a difficult race, being the only Kenyan in the final. I’m ready for the challenge though,” said Rotich.

Emmanuel Korir was eliminated from the semi-finals of the men’s 800m as the fellow countrmany and Kenyan Trials winner Emmanuel Korir fell by the wayside.

Korir had to settle for third in a high-class second semi-final banked by pre-event favourite Donavan Brazier of the US. Looking every inch a potential champion, the American kicked ahead of the long-time leader Marco Arop of Canada down the home stretch to win in 1:44.87.

Arop was rewarded by grabbing the second automatic position in 1:45.07 with Korir, the all-time number six, exiting the competition some 0.12 further back.

Ngeno, the world under-20 silver medallist, who gunned down his opponents in the preliminaries found going too tough inside Khalifa International Stadium finishing the race in sixth place timing 1: 46.61.

Meanwhile, multiple Africa walk champion Grace Wanjiru’s quest to bag a medal at the world stage was dashed by Qatari heat finishing in position 26 in a time of 1:39:58 in the women’s 20km race walk final on Sunday night.

Having only just returned this season from a two-year maternity break, 32-year-old Liu Hong of China landed her third world 20km race walk title, looking every bit as dominant as she did when winning her previous major gold medals.

It was also the first time one nation had swept the medals in a women’s race walking event at the World Championships as her Chinese teammates Qieyang Shenjie and Yang Liujing followed her across the finish line.

But it was only in the last few kilometres that the Chinese trio emerged as the likely medallists as they had several other athletes for company up until that point.

The pace for the opening laps of the two-kilometre circuit on Doha’s Corniche was comfortable for most of the leading contenders and a large lead pack of about 20 women passed through five kilometres in 24:01.

Liu, Qieyang and Yang were joined in that lead pack by a fourth Chinese race walker, Yang Jiayu, a wild card entrant as the defending champion, along with the likes of world leader Glenda Morejon of Ecuador, Turkish teenager Meryem Bekmez, Pan-American champion Sandra Arenas of Colombia and South American record-holder Erica De Sena of Brazil.

Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich will be the lone ranger in men’s 800m final tonight after his compatriots were knocked out at the ongoing IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar.

The Kericho-based Rotich, who is appearing in his fourth global championships, timed one minute, 44.20 seconds to finish second in Sunday’s first semi-final head behind Purto Rican Wesley Vazquez.

The 2016 Diamond League winner Rotich will be attempting to land his first international medal having appeared in seven finals without a medal; three worlds, two African Championships finals, one Olympics and Commonwealth Games.

“I have gained enough experience to aim for a podium finish; I also know it will be a difficult race, being the only Kenyan in the final. I’m ready for the challenge though,” said Rotich.

Emmanuel Korir was eliminated from the semi-finals of the men’s 800m as the fellow countryman and Kenyan Trials winner Emmanuel Korir fell by the wayside.

Korir had to settle for third in a high-class second semi-final banked by pre-event favourite Donavan Brazier of the US. Looking every inch a potential champion, the American kicked ahead of the long-time leader Marco Arop of Canada down the home stretch to win in 1:44.87.

Arop was rewarded by grabbing the second automatic position in 1:45.07 with Korir, the all-time number six, exiting the competition some 0.12 further back.

Ngeno, the world under-20 silver medallist, who gunned down his opponents in the preliminaries found going too tough inside Khalifa International Stadium finishing the race in sixth place timing 1: 46.61.

Meanwhile, multiple Africa walk champion Grace Wanjiru’s quest to bag a medal at the world stage was dashed by Qatari heat finishing in position 26 in a time of 1:39:58 in the women’s 20km race walk final on Sunday night.

Having  only just returned this season from a two-year maternity break, 32-year-old Liu Hong of China landed her third world 20km race walk title, looking every bit as dominant as she did when winning her previous major gold medals.

It was also the first time one nation had swept the medals in a women’s race walking event at the World Championships as her Chinese teammates Qieyang Shenjie and Yang Liujing followed her across the finish line.

But it was only in the last few kilometres that the Chinese trio emerged as the likely medallists as they had several other athletes for company up until that point.

The pace for the opening laps of the two-kilometre circuit on Doha’s Corniche was comfortable for most of the leading contenders and a large lead pack of about 20 women passed through five kilometres in 24:01.

Liu, Qieyang and Yang were joined in that lead pack by a fourth Chinese race walker, Yang Jiayu, a wild card entrant as the defending champion, along with the likes of world leader Glenda Morejon of Ecuador, Turkish teenager Meryem Bekmez, Pan-American champion Sandra Arenas of Colombia and South American record-holder Erica De Sena of Brazil.

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