Moraa only Kenyan to make 800m semis as Richardson, Lyles cruise

23rd August 2023

The semifinals of the 800m will take place on Friday.

Mary Moraa. PHOTO | AFP
Mary Moraa. PHOTO | AFP
  • Naomi Korir and Vivian Chebet came short in their heats.
  • Defending and Olympic champion Athing Mu, European gold medalist Keely Hodgkinson also progressed smoothly to the semifinals which take place on Friday. 
  • Richardson and Lyles are looking to add to the 100m golds they won earlier in the week.

All of Kenya’s hopes of bagging a potential medal in the women’s 800metres event in the ongoing Budapest World Championships lie solely on reigning Commonwealth champion Mary Moraa. 

This is after the 23-year-old was the solitary Kenyan to make it to the semifinals of the two-lap event as three other Kenyans who were listed failed to make it to the semis. 

While Naomi Korir and Vivian Chebet came short in their heats, the other Kenyan representative Peninah Mutisya, who is the Africa U20 800m Silver medalist, failed to start owing to a technicality. 

Moraa faced little trouble in her heat as she controlled the race from the front on her way to winning Heat 2 in 1:59.89 ahead of Raevyn Rogers and Worknesh Mesele. 

This came after Chebet missed out on the automatic top three positions after finishing in fourth place in Heat 1. Korir on the other hand suffered a similar fate after her seventh-place finish in Heat 3. 

Defending and Olympic champion Athing Mu, European gold medalist Keely Hodgkinson also progressed smoothly to the semifinals which will take place on Friday. 

Elsewhere, Sha'Carri Richardson and Noah Lyles went through the motions as they began their 200m campaigns bidding to add to the 100m golds they won earlier in the week. 

Richardson, seeking to become the fourth woman to achieve the double and first since Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in 2013, recorded the fastest time in the heats of 22.16sec. 

Richardson will have her work cut out to emulate Silke Gladisch, who won the 100m-200m world championships double in 1987, Katrin Krabbe (1991) and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (2013). 

Gabby Thomas, who beat Richardson in the US trials, and Jamaica's defending champion Shericka Jackson, who is out for revenge after having to settle for silver behind Richardson's remarkable gold in the 100m, will be formidable rivals. 

Thomas, who has the world's fastest time this year of 21.60sec, recorded the second fastest time of 22.26sec. 

Two-time defending 200mchampion Lyles did what was required as he timed 20.05sec. The American is aiming to become the first men's sprint double winner since Usain Bolt in 2015. 

Lyles, 26, has set his sights not just on the double but also Bolt's world record of 19.19sec set back at the Berlin worlds in 2009. 

"I try to make all my races look as easy as possible, even if they aren't," said Lyles. 

"I still have gears left, I just didn't need them here. Tomorrow the goal is to have my body and my legs ready to hit that power button again." 

Lyles's toughest opposition may come from 100m silver medalist Letsile Tebogo, who won his heat in 20.22s and teenage American Erriyon Knighton. 


Swedish pole vault superstar Armand Duplantis had no problems reaching the final but the defending champion and his rivals had to spend three and a half hours out in the sweltering morning conditions. 

Duplantis, 23, is bidding to claim a sixth successive title. He was European, world outdoor and world indoor champion in 2022 and Olympic and European indoor winner in 2021. 

His last defeat at a major championship was when he was 19, finishing runner-up to American Sam Kendricks at the 2019 world championship in Doha.