Olympics-Athletics-Americans eye up Semenya-free women’s 800

Sports Tokyo 2020

By Mitch Phillips

TOKYO (Reuters) - The women’s 800 metres, right in the spotlight of the “intersex athlete” debate, looks as if it could be a great race in Tokyo as the main contenders advanced from Friday’s opening round in the absence of all three banned Rio medallists.

There was a very different feel to the race this time with the Rio three, including double champion Caster Semenya, all ruled ineligible due to heightened testosterone levels.

Without them, the top six performers this season have less than a second between them and the United States look well equipped to challenge for only their country’s second gold in the event after Madeline Manning’s triumph in 1968 and their first medal since 1988.

Athing Mu, the 19-year-old world leader with 1:56.07, Ajee Wilson and world championship 800 metre silver medallist Raevyn Rogers all looked good and advanced from the opening heats on a humid, overcast morning.

Britain also have a strong chance in the shape of Jemma Reekie, one of only two athletes to go under two minutes on Friday, Alex Bell and 19-year-old Keely Hodgkinson, who were all safely through.

Jamaica’s Natoya Goule looked very relaxed winning her heat with the fastest time of the morning - 1:59.83.

Rose Mary Almanza of Cuba, who has knocked more than a second off her personal best this year at the age of 29, and Ugandan world champion Halimah Nakaayi also progressed.

The semi-finals are on Saturday and the final on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Jul 30, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Athing Mu (USA) competes in the women's 800m heat 3 during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Olympic Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 30, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Athing Mu (USA) competes in the women’s 800m heat 3 during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Olympic Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Jul 30, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Ajee Wilson (USA) competes women's 800m heat 6 during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Olympic Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 30, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Ajee Wilson (USA) competes women’s 800m heat 6 during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Olympic Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Athletics - Women's 800m - Round 1 - OLS - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - July 30, 2021. Raevyn Rogers of the United States before competing REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Athletics - Women’s 800m - Round 1 - OLS - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - July 30, 2021. Raevyn Rogers of the United States before competing REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

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