Melissa Bishop on to the 800m semifinal at IAAF World Championships

The Canadian medal hopeful looked strong in her first qualifying race; she will not have to face Caster Semenya until the final

August 10th, 2017 by | Posted in London 2017 | Tags: , , ,

One of Canada’s best hopes for a medal in London is off to a strong start.

Melissa Bishop controlled the pace for much of her preliminary round heat in the 800m, finishing in second in a comfortable 2:01.11. The top three from each of the six heats automatically advanced to the semifinal.

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Bishop enters the IAAF World Championships as the reigning silver medallist. But the 29 year old finished a disappointing fourth in last year’s Olympics. Ahead of her were three athletes who have come under scrutiny for high testosterone levels, including Caster Semenya, who is at the centre of all the controversy regarding intersex athletes.

Bishop has been relatively quiet about the debate, which has been raging since Semenya burst onto the scene at the 2009 World Championships, winning in 1:55.45, one of the fastest times in history. Since then, Semenya was forced to take a sex verification test and temporarily blocked from competing. After being reinstated to compete by an arbitrator, Semenya has been unbeatable.

Bishop told the CBC in a mini-documentary that fourth place is not an option at this stage in her career.

She is on track to do something special in London, moving smoothly through the first 200m of her heat, with the rest of the field keying off her strong initial move to the front.

Bishop almost looked like she was going to take a nasty fall in the first lap, when Britain’s Shelayne Oskan-Clarke appeared to catch the back of Bishop’s foot from behind. But the Canadian regained her balance, before being cut off by Spain’s Esther Guerrero. 

At the 400m mark, Bishop put on the jets, blowing past Guerrero and showing her world class endurance, securing a comfortable spot in order to qualify for the next round. She was only bested by a sprinting Angelika Cichocka of Poland. But that didn’t really matter, as Bishop knew she was in a good spot and didn’t waste any unnecessary energy.

But Bishop will no doubt face the same scenario she did last year in Rio in order to get on the podium. All three medallists, Francine Niyonsaba, Margaret Wambui and Caster Semenya all looked just as good as Bishop in their respective heats, qualifying easily. 

Bishop draws heat #1 on Friday evening (7:35 London time; 1:35 p.m. EDT). Her heat features top American runner Ajee Wilson and Cuba’s Rose Almanza, but she will not have to face the aforementioned trio until the final, if she qualifies as expected.

The complete list of semifinal heats:

HEAT 1 11 AUG 2017 19:35 

2 4245 Hanna HERMANSSON SWESWE 2:00.94 2:00.94
3 3667 Noélie YARIGO BENBEN 2:00.99 1:59.12
4 4380 Ajee WILSON USAUSA 1:55.61 1:55.61
5 3837 Habitam ALEMU ETHETH 1:58.92 1:58.92
6 3784 Rose Mary ALMANZA CUBCUB 1:59.11 1:57.70
7 3719 Melissa BISHOP CANCAN 1:57.01 1:57.01
8 4154 Hedda HYNNE NORNOR 1:59.87 1:59.87
9 3914 Adelle TRACEY GBRGBR 2:00.28 2:00.28

HEAT 2 11 AUG 2017 19:45 

2 4100 Egle BALCIÜNAITÉ LTULTU 2:01.21 1:59.29
3 4166 Angelika CICHOCKA POLPOL 2:00.86 1:58.97
4 4227 Selina BÜCHEL SUISUI 1:59.46 1:57.95
5 3911 Lynsey SHARP GBRGBR 1:58.01 1:57.69
6 4209 Caster SEMENYA RSARSA 1:55.27 1:55.27
7 4350 Charlene LIPSEY USAUSA 1:57.38 1:57.38
8 4275 Docus AJOK UGAUGA 2:00.79 2:00.79
9 4135 Sanne VERSTEGEN NEDNED 1:59.55 1:59.55

HEAT 3 11 AUG 2017 19:55 

2 4281 Halima NAKAAYI UGAUGA 2:00.80 1:59.78
3 4205 Gena LÖFSTRAND RSARSA 2:01.50 2:01.50
4 4354 Brenda MARTINEZ USAUSA 1:58.43 1:57.91
5 3660 Francine NIYONSABA BDIBDI 1:55.47 1:55.47
6 4174 Joanna JÓZWIK POLPOL 1:59.29i 1:57.37
7 4090 Margaret Nyairera WAMBUI KENKEN 1:57.03 1:56.89
8 3904 Shelayna OSKAN-CLARKE GBRGBR 1:59.82 1:58.86
9 3932 Christina HERING GERGER 2:00.77 1:59.54