By Brett Davies

Australia’s Peter Bol has produced a superb run to win his 800m semi-final, and move into medal contention in what will be a very competitive final. The 27 year-old Sudanese-born Bol showed great tactical awareness and confidence, and he has established himself as a genuine threat to the established 800m stars.

 

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Bol, competing in the 2nd semi-final, followed a fast opening lap (50.94) from the Canadian Marco Arop and stayed in 2nd up the back straight .Arop maintained his lead and continued to force the pace on the final bend. As Bol moved up to Arop with 100m to go, the pack, including an in-form Rio bronze medallist Clayton Murphy, began to close in. Bol held on to win from Murphy (1.44.18) in another national record of 1.44.11.

Bol showed great poise and held his form well on the biggest stage. He is well-coached and has developed into a genuine international-class athlete who has always had talent, but most importantly, now has real belief in his ability. Bol also has impressive 400m speed, which is necessary for success at this level.

Bol will have his work cut out. In an incident-packed third semi, Kenyan Ferguson Rotich established narrow favouritism, wth an easy-looking win (1.44.04). The race saw one of the favourites, London silver medallist Nijel Amos fall after a collision on the bend with 140m to go, and the American Jewett also fell heavily. Murphy also looked good and he has a lot of big-race experience. It promises to be a fascinating contest.

Bol’s teammates, Jeff Riseley and Charlie Hunter, did everything they could and they can hold their heads high. Hunter was perhaps unlucky to be in a rough race. He fought hard, yet had to chop his stride three or four times in the last 200m. He lost his momentum and finished 7th in the first semi (1.46.73). Hunter is at his first Olympics, and he will have gained valuable experience. Riseley, running in the 3rd semi, was off the pace at 600m, made up ground on the bend, but had to swerve wide to avoid Amos & Jewett. He too struggled to maintain his rhythm yet finished 5th and has demonstrated great focus and strength of character just to make it back after all his problems, at the relatively advanced age of 34.

Our  women struggled in the heat and exceptionally high humidity, but will have other opportunities in the future. Both Morgan Mitchell and Catriona Bissett were run out in the heats. Bissett gets another chance to shine in the 1500m.

The Men’s 800m final won Wednesday (4/8) will be awesome. It’s a great time for Aussie distance running.

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