Melissa Bishop qualifies for semis after near-fall in 800m heat

Canadian-record holder Melissa Bishop of Eganville, Ont., recovered after nearly being tripped on the first lap of her 800-metre heat on Thursday to finish second and qualify for Friday’s semifinal (CBCSports.ca, 2:35 p.m. ET).

The 29-year-old reigning world championship silver medallist held the inside lane for the majority of the race and crossed the line in two minutes 1.11 seconds, just behind Angelika Cichocka of Poland (season-best 2:00.86).

“That’s what happens in the 800. We’re all trying to run in one lane, so it does get scrappy sometimes. Thankfully, I stayed on my feet, but it gets dangerous,” Bishop told CBC in reference to the bunch up early in the race.

Canada’s Melissa Bishop advances to 800m semis4:04

Bishop credited American Brenda Martinez for reaching out a steadying arm as Bishop stumbled, averting what could have been a disaster not just for the Canadian but others in the race.

The five-foot-seven, 123-pound Bishop nearly stumbled again at the 400-metre mark when Spain’s Esther Guerrero cut her off.

“She’s one of the smaller, less-muscular runners out there,” said CBC Sports analyst Anson Henry of Bishop, “so she is going to need to run a very tough race [in the final]. Her close calls today can be seen as wake-up calls.”

The way Bishop readjusted mentally, noted Henry, appeared to be instinctual with no emotional recation.

“There was no expression of worry or fear on her face,” he said. “I really admired how her body seemingly took care of itself and she got back into the race.”

In top form

Bishop, who improved upon her previous national record by running 1:57.01 at the Diamond League meet in Monaco on July 21, added she’s in the best shape of her life.

Bishop ran 1:57.02 to finish fourth at the 2016 Rio Olympics and last month cruised to her fourth Canadian title in 2:00.26 at Ottawa.

“I want on the podium, baby,” Bishop told CBC Sports’ Perdita Felicien after Thursday’s race. “After my fourth last year [in Rio] and having been on the podium before [at worlds] you want to be on it every time.”

In other Canadian results, Lindsey Butterworth of North Vancouver, B.C., and Annie Leblanc of Repentigny, Que., failed to advance after finishing in 2:03.19 and 2:04.06, respectively.

Semenya breezes into semifinals

After getting bronze in the 1,500, Caster Semenya is getting back on more familiar territory: crossing the line first in her 800 heat in 2:01.33.

The South African easily qualified for the semifinals, cruising past all top challengers. Semenya is a two-time Olympic and two-time world champion in the distance.

She is at the centre of a dispute over whether females with excessive testosterone should be permitted to compete.

In 2011, the International Association of Athletics Federations instituted restrictions on athletes with hyperandrogenism, but a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned it. The world governing body is appealing again, based on a recent scientific paper that found women who produce higher-than-normal amounts of testosterone have up to a 4.5 per cent advantage over their competition.

Watson 6th in 400 hurdles final

Sage Watson shaved more than a half-second off her time from the Rio Olympics in a sixth-place performance in the women’s 400-metre hurdles final.

The Medicine Hat, Alta., runner posted a time of 54.92 seconds, a slight improvement from her qualifying time (55.05) and faster than her 11th-place showing at the 2016 Rio Summer Games (55.44).

“It’s a good start, but I want more,” a disappointed Watson, who reached the semifinals two years ago at worlds in Beijing, told the CBC, adding the race got away from her at the seventh or eighth hurdle.

“I felt like I got out well [at the start]. I went for it on the last corner and left it all on the track. My takeaway is being able to represent Canada at the world championships and learning to be a professional athlete.”

Henry said Watson misjudging her approach to hurdle eight caused the 23-year-old to lose her momentum and probably a fourth-place finish.

“In the latter part of a race, she’s not used to seeing anyone around her, so that is going to take some getting used to,” Henry said.

In June, Watson captured her first NCAA Division I title running for the Arizona Wildcats with a 54.52 finish, nearly one second ahead of her closest competitor.

The Canadian team, hit hard by injuries and illness, remains without a medal. The three sixth-place finishes — Watson, Brittany Crew in women’s shot put, and Matt Hughes in the 3,000 steeplechase — are the team’s top results. It’s a far cry from the record-eight medals the team won two years ago in Beijing. The Canadian team captured six medals last summer at the Rio Olympics.

Kori Carter clocked 53.07 to lead a 1-2 finish by the United States in Thursday’s competition. Dalilah Muhammad followed in 53.50, with Jamaica’s Ristananna Tracey winning bronze medal in a personal-best 53.74.

Emmanuel books ticket for 200 final

Canada’s fastest woman in the 200 metres will get a chance to earn a medal at the world championships.

Toronto’s Crystal Emmanuel stopped the clock in 22.85 seconds at a packed London Stadium to finish third in her heat and qualify seventh for Friday’s eight-sprinter final at 4:50 p.m. ET.

Canadian Crystal Emmanuel races into 200m final1:39

When the television camera panned the field for her heat, it caught the Canadian talking to herself. She was repeating her mantra: “Beast. Just me.”

“When I saw how hyped she was pre-race, I knew she was going to blast out of the blocks through that turn,” said Henry. “The problem with that in the 200, however, is you can blow your load and take away from the strength necessary for the latter part of the race. The 200 is all about speed maintenance.”

Emmanuel, who ran 22.87 to advance to the semifinals, went 22.50 last month in Ireland to shatter Marita Payne-Wiggins’ 34-year-old record (22.62) after repeating as a double gold medallist in the 100 and 200 at the Canadian championships in July at Ottawa.

“If the weather is right [Friday] and the winds favourable, she will break her Canadian record,” Henry said. “Her flat speed is the best it’s ever been. It’s just a matter of managing the phases of her race properly, and letting the speed come out.”

Earlier this week, the 25-year-old Emmanuel matched her personal best in the 100 (11.14) but finished fourth and didn’t qualify for the final.

Defending 200 world champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands and Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas were the fastest Thursday in 22.49.

Canadians to miss 5,000 final

Andrea Seccafien and Jessica O’Connell, who finished 1-2 in the women’s 5,000 metres at the Canadian championships in July, won’t compete in Sunday’s final in London.

Seccafien placed 13 of 16 runners in her heat in 15 minutes 19.39 seconds before O’Connell finished 12th in the second heat in 15:23.16.

The 26-year-old Seccafien went out aggressively on a comfortable night for racing and looked strong early but couldn’t keep up with the pace over the final 2,500m.

Worlds debut

Seccafien, who boasts a season- and personal-best time of 15:08.59, clocked 15:39.66 by squeezing under the world qualifying standard of 15:22.00 by three-tenths of a second in 15:21.64 in May at the Payton Jordan Invitational in California.

The native of Guelph, Ont., finished 20th in her Olympic debut last summer in Rio de Janeiro.

Calgary’s O’Connell, making her world championships debut, began at the back of the pack and remained there for much of her heat.

Thursday’s time was faster than the 15.51 from the 28-year-old’s Olympic debut in Rio, where she failed to advance to the final. The West Virginia University graduate and three-time all-American has a PB of 15:06.

Coe wants lifetime bans

Sebastian Coe made headlines after Justin Gatlin won the men’s 100  last Saturday, suggesting the American should’ve received a lifetime ban on his second doping violation back in 2006.

Coe, the IAAF president, told the BBC that he’s “not eulogistic at the thought of somebody who has served two bans in our sport walking off with one of the biggest prizes our sport has to offer.”

Coe didn’t back down from his comments in an interview with CBC Sports host Scott Russell, which will be aired as part of the Road To The Olympic Games show on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET.

Sebastian Coe: ‘I’ve always proposed a life ban’ for steroid users2:50

In fact, his resolve remains strong with regards to punishing drug cheats.

“I’m pretty unreconstructed on the subject,” he told Russell. “I’ve always proposed a life ban.”

High jumper Treasure halted at 1.85m

Alyx Treasure won’t have a chance to build on her fourth Canadian high jump title in the women’s final at the world championships.

The Prince George, B.C., native cleared the opening height of 1.80 metres and then 1.85 each on her first attempts at London Stadium, but missed all three tries at 1.89.

A 2016 Olympian, Treasure cleared a season-best 1.92 at nationals in July after jumping 1.91 on May 6 to win at the Ward Haylett Invitational in Kansas.

Van Niekerk upended in 200 shocker

Ramil Guliyev of Turkey earned the biggest upset of the world championships by winning the 200 ahead of Wayde van Niekerk.

It is Turkey’s first world championship gold medal.

Guliyev held on in the finishing straight to win in 20.09 seconds, .02 seconds ahead of Van Niekerk. Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago took bronze in the same time as the South African.

van-niekerk-wayde-170810-1180

South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk reacts after competing in the final of the men’s 200 metres at the track and field world championships on Thursday. Ramil Guliyev of Turkey earned the biggest upset of the event, crossing the line in 20.09 seconds to beat van Niekerk. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)

The 25-year-old Van Niekerk, considered the heir apparent to Usain Bolt as the next global figurehead for the sport, was attempting the 200/400 double in London after winning the latter event earlier this week.

Isaac Makwala of Botswana finished sixth.

After missing the heats with a stomach bug two days ago, he first made the semifinals in a specially approved solo-run. Makwala then ran a blistering race from the inside lane to reach the final as the second finisher from his heat behind Isiah Young from the United States.

It was a night that might have belonged to Andre De Grasse, who pulled out before the meet with a torn hamstring. Canadian teammate Aaron Brown was disqualified in the 200 heats after stepping on the line.

Rio champ Centrowitz heading home

Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz of the United States finished last in his 1,500 heat and is out of the world championships.

With the top six of 14 runners going automatically through, Centrowitz trailed going into the finishing straight and never got any momentum going.

At the same time, three-time world champion Asbel Kiprop easily got through behind Kenyan teammate Elijah Manangoi.

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