TOKYO, Japan – Jamaica’s Natoya Goule and Jemma Reekie of Great Britain lead the list of qualifiers advancing to the semifinals of the women’s 800m at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on the first day of the opening session of athletics on Friday (30).
Goule who traveled to Japan in top shape, cruised into the semis after winning her heat in a comfortable 1:59.83, the fastest time of the round. Using her familiar take charge tactic, the Jamaican grabbed the lead early in the race and dictated the tempo en route to winning heat two of the discipline.
Noélie Yarigo of Benin was second to Goule in the heat in 2:00.11 with Hedda Hynne of Norway running 2:00.76 to also secure a top-three automatic spot.
Meanwhile, Reekie of Great Britain progressed to the semifinals with the second-fastest time after running 1:59.97 to win the sixth heat ahead of the USA’s Ajeé Wilson who ran 2:00.02 for the third-best time in the heats.
Also securing passage into the semis was 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials winner and world leader Athing Mu who made lightweight of her competitors on her Olympic debut when clocking a fully relaxed 2:01.10 to take charge of heat three.
Cuban Rose Mary Almanza, another strong medal contender, ran a comfortable 2:00.71 for first place in what was a very tight fifth heat, which also saw
Déborah Rodríguez of Uruguay (2:00.90), Rababe Arafi of Morocco (2:00.96) and Briton’s Alexandra Bell (2:00.96) also advancing.
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Other notable semifinal qualifiers were world champion Halimah Nakaayi of Uganda (2:00.92), Chunyu Wang of China (2:00.05), USA’s Raevyn Rogers (2:01.42), as well as Great Britain’s teenage superstar Keely Hodgkinson (2:01.59).
Canadians Melissa Bishop-Nriagu (2:02.11) and Madeleine Kelly (2:02.39) both failed to advance.
The semifinal round of the women’s 800m race will take place on the second day of action.