Day One-Men's Shot Qualifying-Hoffa and Nelson, Men's 1,500 qualifyting-Webb and Lagat

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As I was walking back from grabbing a couple of bottles of water to replenish my overactive sweat glands, I ran into former thrower, now IAAF commentator Shawn Pickering. I asked Shawn to put the Shot put condundrum into perspective for me. Being the zen thrower, Pickering put the whole issue with a qualifying round and final for the Men's shot put on the same day....

" The key is to use as little energy as possible. You need to qualify with your first throw and then turn it off for five hours! Reese did that, Rutger Smith did that, Ralf Bartels did that, Dan Taylor did not. Adam Nelson took two throws to get to the final."

That just about tells the story. Hoffa i at the top of his game and qualified with a 20.83m throw. Rutger Smith of the Netherlands hit 21.04 and had the longest throw of the day. Ralf Bartels threw 20.33 and the German thrower made the final. Belerus' Andrei Miknevich threw 20.23 m to move on.

In group A, Nelson took two to make it, and threw 20.81m for the longest in his group, with Joachim Olsen of Denmark in 20.62m also moving on with Yuriy Bialou of Belarus and Tomasz Majewski of Poland throwing 20.25 m and moving on.

My picks are Hoffa, Nelson, Smith for the final tonight.


Men's 1,500 m heats

Heat 1-Webb takes second, Kiprop wags the finger, runs 3:40.65

Well, my animal sacrifices worked, Webb ran a very, very smart first round. Running in the second lane, just on the shoulder of France's , Alan Webb ran a very conscious first round, hitting the 400 meters in 60.94, the 800 meters in 2:02.12 and the 1,100 meters in 2:46.48. Webb stayed on the shoulder of Monsieur until 1200, which was hit in 3:00.75 (that was a 58 second lap, after a two laps in the 61 point range). Taking the lead, Webb was nudged by Senor Higuero from Spain and that little prompting woke up our American record holder.

Alan matched each move around the turn, until Asbel Kiprop of Kenya came from behind and ran alongside Webb, then took the lead, wagging his finger in the number 1 position. No worries, Webb took second and moves on. Kiprop won the heat in 3:40.65. Just for our reader's eyes; the last 800 meters in this round was covered in 1:52-a 58 second lap followed by a 54 second lap. Webb ran 3:40.73, Higuero ran 3:40.93. Sixth place was Kevin Sullivan of Canada, who moved on in 3:41.39.

Heat 2-Rhashid has not forgot how to run

With some injury problems, the 2005 World Champion at 800 meters and 1,500 meters has not raced in nearly a year, but that did not seem to matter. as he sat as far back as sixth, while Andrew Baddeley of Great Britian and Mehdi Baala of France lead. Hitting the 800 meters in 2:02.44, Mehdi Baali of France made a strong move and took over the race. Leading through the 1,100 meters in 2:45.87, Monsieur Baahli was followed by Monsier Ramzi, who looked relaxed in third place. New Zealand's Nick Willis took over the lead at 1200 meters in 2:59.49. Just after 1200 meters, run in, Rhashid Ramzi showed that he has some leg speed, covering the final lap in a stunning 52.2, with Baali right next to him, running the fastet heat in 3:36.93. Ramzi was second in 3:38.72, with Moustaqui of Morocco in 3:39.54 for third, Shedrak Korir in fourth in 3;39.55, Andrew Baddeley of GB in fifth in 3:39.60, Sergio Gallardo of Spain in sixth in 3:39.92, Nick Willis of New Zealand in seventh in 3:40.18, Juan Luis Barrios of Mexico ( our Latinos Corriendo cover guy!) in 3:41.05 in eighth with Kobayashi and Moradi also moving on!

Word on the street is that Rhashid has been focusing on training, with up to nine training partners challenging him through his buildup. That being said, most athletes need a few races to get into racing condition-remember how close Haile Gebrselassie came to winning the 10,000 meters in Edmonton? His achilles injuries there had curtailed his racing and he was just a few callousing fast races short of a win.

Ramzi looks to me, to be in good shape. He was just a bit tentative as he moved over the last 300 meters, but he got into form and his 52.2 was a smooth last lap, as he let up just before the finish. Question number 2 is answered-Rhashid Ramzi will
defend his title at 1,500 meters.


Heat 3-Bernard begins his double, part of the road to Beijing

In this third and final heat of the 1,500 meters, the field hit the 400 meters in 61.17, the 800 meters in 2:04.75 and as always, the race started with 1,100 meters to go-hit in 2:48.15. Bernard Lagat stayed in seventh or eighth place the entire first three laps, hitting the 1,200 meters in 3:01.88 and that is when our friend Bernard woke up. Using the last 300 meters as a good final workout, Lagat went from numero eight to seven, to six, to five, to four, to three, and finally, into two as Senor Casado won in 3:41.57. Our friend from Texas, Leonel Manzara finished twelfth and out of it in 3;45.

Arturo Casado of Spain took the win in 3;41.33. Mekonnen Gebremehdin of Ethiopia took second in 3:41.43, Bernard Lagat of USA was third in 3:41.68, Tarek Boukensa of Algeria was fourth in 3:41.71, Christian Obrist of Italy was fifth in 3:41.74, and Belal Mansoor Ali of Burundi was sixth in 3:41.87 with Daniel Komen in seventh and the last qualifier in 3:41.96. Mark Fountain of Australia did not move on.

What did we learn today, sports fans? Okay, I will tell you--a) Webb and Lagat should be in the medal hunt, b) Rhashid Ramzi looks good in the heats, c) three Spaniards and three Kenyans mean trouble in the finals. O.K. our next lesson in this global village thing is here for good, look at the 100 meters. The semi finals may be the hardest races to get out of in WC in many years!

In the men's 100 meter rounds there were only two surprises.

In round one, Nobuharu Asahara of Japan won in 10.14, a seasonal best, to the crowd's delight. Tyson Gay was second in 10.19, with 2003 WC gold medalist Kim Collins in fourth in 10.34, also going on.

In round two, Brendan Christian of Antigua won in 10.16, with Craig Pickering of Great Britian looking good in 10.24 and Derrick Atkins of the Bahamas in third in 10.25.

Marlon Devonish won heat three, with Francis Obikwelu being called for a false start, we were not sure he committed. Devonish won in 10.13.

In heat 4, Mark Jelks of the U.S. cramped at 40 meters and jogged in in 13.64, and did not qualify. Richard Thompson of Trinidad won here, in 10.29.

Asafa Powell of Jamaica jogged a 10.34 to take second here and move on.

In heat 8, Nesta Carter of Jamaica ran a fine 10.17, but the story was in second place as Japan's Naoki Tsukahara ran a personal best of 10.20, as did Rosario La Mastra of Italy, in fourth, who ran 10.27. It should also be noted that Sebastien Gattuso of Monaco, ran a national record of 10.55 in fifth place in this round. He does not move on.

Women's steeple rounds

Cristina Casandra of Romania ran 9:29.39 in the third heat to have the leading qualifying time. None of the three Americans moved on. I am picking Yekaterina Volkova of Russia, Wioletta Janowska of Poland and Samitova-Galkina of Russia for the medals.

The heptathlon competition is very exciting, but to keep the suspense, I will provide one piece on the hep after the evening session! Will write again in about five hours!

Today's results: http://osaka2007.iaaf.org/results/bydate.html#racedate=08-25-2007

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