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Running events in Athens: Maria Mutolo looks for a unique achievement


Maria Mutola has booked a place in Monday’s 800 metre final. The athlete from Mozambique could achieve a unique double. Never before in Olympic history has a woman won the 800 metres at two Olympic Games. Mutola is the reigning champion and look strong again, after she had injury problems during the season that hampered her. She was in control of her semi final, winning in 1:59,30 minutes.

Moroccan Hasna Benhassi also looked strong. She won her semi final in 1:58,59 minutes, beating Jolanda Ceplak on the home straight. The Slovenian will also be in with a chance as well as Britain’s Kelly Holmes, who won her semi final, clocking the fastest time of the day (1:57,98). Jearl Miles Clark (US) will also be in the final.

There will probably be a gold medal for Kenya on Tuesday when the 3000 m steeplechase will take place. Brimin Kipruto, Ezekiel Kemboi and Paul Kipsiele Koech all progressed through their heats. And there will be no danger from Ethiopians this time. For some reason steeple chase is not their event. None of their runners reached the final. But there was a fine run by an US athlete: Daniel Lincoln showed some courage running from the front. It was only on the last 250 metres that he was passed. But finishing fourth in 8:19,62 minutes was good enough to make it into the final.

Already on Friday the first round of the 5,000 metres had become a midnight affair in Athens. Tirunesh Dibaba, one of the favourites for Olympic gold, won her heat in a time of 15:00,66 minutes. While the World Cross Country Champion Edith Masai (Kenya) is also through to the final Marla Runyan (US) missed it. She finished 9th in 15:24,88. Shayne Culpepper (US) was 13th with 15:40,02. The second heat was won by another Ethiopian: Meseret Defar ran a quick 14:52,39. Turkey’s new world record holder, Elvan Abeylegesse, who originally comes from Ethiopia as well, was second clocking 14:54,80. In this heat Shalane Flanagan (US) finished 11th (15:34,63) and missed the final as well.

While in the first round of the 1,500 metres Alan Webb (US) missed the semi finals by 26 hundredth of a second (he clocked 3:41,25) his countryman Grant Robinson finally was lucky. He had been obstructed during the race and was reinstated after a protest by the US federation. So Robinson will run in the semi finals.

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