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Report up of the first semi

Event Report - Men 800m Semi Finals

-final of the men's 800 metres: the Olympic champion, the defending World champion, the World 1,500m champion and the African champion.

No, it was not a seeding error, but the inevitable consequence of having three semi-finals, with just the first two plus two fastest losers to go through to Sunday's highly anticipated final.

And yet all four title-holders, namely Yuri Borzakovski, Djabir Said-Guerni, Rashid Ramzi and William Yiampoy, managed to advance, Said-Guerni, the title-winner in Paris in 2003, doing so courtesy of a 1min 44.80sec fourth-place time. Spare a thought for Amine Laalou, of Morocco, "only" fifth in the semi-final here in 1:45.05.

The semi was won by the Russian, Borzakovski. Uncharacteristically, the "head waiter" had moved right up to join the early leader, Khadevis Robinson, before the bell (51.18sec). Yiampoy made his bid for the race with 200 to run, almost catching out Ramzi, who had gone through 400m in seventh place.

Into the straight, and Borzakovski outlasted Ramzi in the final strides, to finish in 1:44.26 to 1:44.30. They will both be glad of a rest on Saturday.

The second semi saw Mehdi Baala, of France, duel with Spain's Antonio Reina down the back straight of the final lap, only for the early leader, teenager Belal Mansoor Ali, to fight back down the home straight for the win, in 1:45.35, ahead of the Frenchman, the Spaniard fading badly. South Africa's Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, fastest in the world this year, was the principle casualty here, having run 1:45.73 for third.

The third semi-final saw three sunglass-wearing runners stream around the final bend, all knowing that only two of them would survive for the final. Canada's Gary Reed made sure he was one of them, winning in 1:44.33 for a national record, just nipping William Bungei (1:44.41) on the line. Youssef Saad Kamel, of Bahrain, ran inside 1:45, yet did not qualify for what what is n prospect a mouth-watering final.

As a footnote, Britain's James McIlroy was eliminated after the third semi-final after a creditable season's best 1:45.91.

It is worth recording that McIlroy was one of just two British men involved in flat track events between 800 to 10,000m. Twenty-five years on from the "Coe-Ovett Olympics" in Moscow, and 20 years after Steve Cram set his Mile world record, there have been no British men in any distance finals here.