Farah on course as Semenya makes Olympic debut
Posted Wednesday, August 8 2012 at 19:14
Newly-crowned Olympic 10,000m champion Mo Farah remained on course for a distance double on Wednesday as controversial South African Caster Semenya made an incident-free debut at the London Games.
Farah safely negotiated his passage into Saturday's 5000m final after a bumpy heat he compared to "being in the ring".
The 29-year-old timed 13min 26.00sec in finishing third in his heat of the 12-and-a-half lap race won by Ethiopian-born Azeri Hayle Ibrahimov.
"I got caught so many times. I have a very long stride so that's why I got caught," Farah said. "It was really rough, like being in the ring.
"There was lots of pushing and shoving so it was just a matter of staying out of trouble, but that's what happens in the heat. The final will settle down."
Farah admitted that he was feeling tired after his exertions on Saturday, when his gold was the third in under one hour for Britain, sending the 80,000-capacity Olympic Stadium crowd delirious.
"I've got to recover well and look forward to the final. I've just got to forget about what I've done and everything else and just rest up," he said.
Training partner Galen Rupp, the shock silver medallist in the 10,000m, also qualified with all other favourites, including Kenyan-born US teammate Bernard Lagat.
"I'm very confident," said the former 1500 and 5000m world champion.
"I'm feeling strong, healthy and I've just got to rest and basically nothing else -- just come and prepare my mind for the race."
Elsewhere on the track, South African star Semenya moved a step closer to adding the Olympic title to her controversial 2009 world title as she eased into the 800m semi-finals.
The 21-year-old, who is coached by 2000 Sydney Olympics 800m champion Maria Mutola, finished second in her heat behind American Alysia Montano.
Semenya had to undergo drug tests followed by gender tests following that magnificent victory in Berlin in 2009.
The situation spiralled out of control with Semenya complaining of "unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being".
She was barred from the track for almost a year before being cleared to run again and her comeback was hampered by a lower back injury and a growing belief that coach Michael Seme had taken her as far as he could.
"It was a tactical race. I wanted the race to be a fast one," she said of her heat, adding that her chances of winning a medal would come down to the speed of the race.
"I have to run a sub-2min race to be a contender."
In the field, Australia's defending Olympic champion Steve Hooker qualified for Friday's pole vault final with a modest best of 5.50m.