Budapest — Despite Friday night’s countrywide power blackout in Kenya that denied fans a glimpse of Mary’s Moraa’s real-time semi-final heat victory, the 800m Commonwealth champion captivated Budapest’s brand-new National Athletics Centre to put herself right in contention heading Sunday’s final.
The 28-year-old made all her signature fast and furious antics count as a 1:58.48 in her heat restricted United States’ Athing Mu (1:58.78) and Uganda’s Halimah Nakaayi (1:58.89) to second and third respectively.
The second heat was taken by Keely Hodgkinson in 1:58.48 with United States’ Nia Akins (1:58.61) and Noélie Yarigo (1:59.43) claiming second and third qualifying slots respectively.
Jemma Reekie (2:00.28) of Great Britain racked up victory in the other heat of the day defeating United States’ Raevyn Rogers (2:00.47) and Jamaica’s Natoya Goule-Toppin (2:00.78) to the scintillating 1-2-3 semis heat dash.
-The Gold Rush-
But following Moraa semis breakthrough, the Kenyan is gunning for her maiden World Championships gold which it eluded her in Oregon last year where she settled for bronze.
In Budapest, Moraa has made her intentions clear – “to go out there and fight despite a strong field of athletes awaiting her.”
But whatever is up her sleeves will be known on when the crème de la crème line up for the much-awaited gold medal tussle.
For now, Moraa has her fingers crossed, although she predicts a very fast and technical women’s 800m final scheduled for Sunday (20:45).
Moraa has promised to fight with vim and vigor for the all-important gold.
“I feel it,” she told reporters at the mixed zone, adding: “It was tough, but amazing, a final before the final, I must admit. You may not know how tough it is until you face the real situation on the track.”
“But what a tough way to qualify for the final. Our semifinal heat attracted the who is who of the 800m specialty and the only few names missing were the likes of Keely Hodgkinson, Mia Akins of the United States, and Jamaica’s Natoya Goule-Toppin.”
Prior to the semi, Moraa revealed she had thought Mu Athing would run away with glory.
Mu, who previously triumphed in Oregon and clinched the Olympic title in Tokyo 2021, had her participation in Budapest clouded in uncertainty.
What’s more, Athing’s coach, Bobby Kersee, had hinted at the possibility of her sidelining the Championships to gear up for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
“You never know in athletics, when I saw Athing before the race I thought she would run away with this one. So, I paced myself well ahead in the first lap, hoping for a showdown, but I felt good going into the second, so I attacked to win the heat.”
“There was plenty of tension given the big names on the start lists. But it’s hard to predict Sunday’s outcome. It’s all God’s grace. But I will go for victory though. It’s always great to have more than two runners from your continent.”
-Alex Isaboke is reporting from Budapest, Hungary-