Here’s a tactical recap of the 800m heats which ended a moment ago.
Gakeme was not quite sure what he wanted to do in this heat. He was slow in the first 100 and moved to the inside lane at the 200m mark. This isn’t a bad place to be in a heat with only seven runners, but he made a very badly timed move outward at the 400m mark and ran the entire 400-500 bend in lane 2 for no gain at all. He still made his way into the top three, but could have done it with less work. Amos ran a much smarter race, waiting in the green queue like a favorite should and picking off opponents one by one in the sprint.
It looked like Aman would be stuck in the box for the first lap, but he wisely utilized an open gap on the 300-400 straight to move outward. Langford is the athlete who left the gap open in the green queue, as he inexplicably fell back two steps in the queue on the 300-400 straight for no apparent reason.
Bosse seemed to track Aman on the final lap, which is no doubt a good tactic. But then he allowed Langford to go past him far too easily on the 500-600 straight. He could have forced Langford further out and prevented the overtaking by moving up to Aman’s shoulder. Luckily for Bosse, Langford’s energy ran out in the 600-700 bend and Bosse managed to pass him on the inside when other athletes ahead of him sprinted away much faster than Langford did. If Langford had been able to keep up with the others in the 600-700 bend Bosse would have been in trouble on the final straight.
This was a relatively fast heat with only six contestants, so there were really no tactics at all.
Kupers set a fast pace, so not much tactics in this heat either. Lewandowski fell back to fifth place in the sprint, but it is not due to any tactical mistakes. It does not look like he was close enough to close the gap on the inside where Lopez comes through in the final 40 meters.
This was an impressive tactical run by Kszczot. He patiently stayed in his boxed position up to 500m and quickly overtook van Rensburg when he seemed to be slower than the others on the 500-600 straight. Kszczot could have moved out before the final bend, but he returned back to the inside lane and got slightly boxed again before finding a suitable gap outward just when the final straight began. He won’t be able to pass out of boxed positions so easily in the semifinals, but in this first round heat this conservative tactic worked perfectly.
Rimmer did everything right in this heat. Instead of staying in an outside position in the 400-500 bend he turned inward, reaching an advantageous position in lane 1 behind the two favorites Rudisha and Balla. As the favorites led the sprint Rimmer clearly managed to save more energy than his evenly matched opponents Kuciapski and Bube, who ran the outside route. But in the end it just wasn’t enough as Rimmer lost the sprint not only to the two favorites he had been following, but also to Rotich, who covered more distance on the outside in the final lap.