Lynsey Sharp cruised through her Olympic 800m semi-final yesterday morning and then insisted she can challenge Caster Semenya for top spot on the podium in the early hours of tomorrow.
The 26-year-old is in the form of her life and finished second in her semi to Semenya, the South African who has attracted controversy for her testosterone levels ever since she burst onto the scene back in 2009.
Since the upper limit was lifted on the allowed levels of testosterone in female competitors – due to a CAS verdict last year – Semenya has been nigh on unbeatable. Indeed, some are tipping her to challenge the 33-year-old world record in a cruise to the gold – and Sharp has alluded in the run-up to these Olympics that she might just be battling for silver or bronze.
But after stopping the clock in 1:58.65 minutes – the sixth time Sharp has gone under two minutes this season – the Scot is feeling confident.
“There is nothing to lose now – there are only going to be eight girls on the start line,” she said. “I definitely feel I can be competitive, that felt pretty good so with a couple of days rest we will see.
“I certainly feel more mature and comfortable in these races this year and confident in myself. I believe in the plan that we set out before the race so my mind is in a much better place this year.
“Being an Olympic finalist is a huge step forward but obviously I am never satisfied, I don’t want to just be a finalist, I want to fight for a medal. Anything can happen in a final, I think we have seen that over the last few days.”
Sharp missed out on the 800m showpiece at London 2012 – the then 22-year-old crashing out in the semi-finals – but the Commonwealth and European silver medallist looks to be hitting her peak after cruising through the heats and the semi-final in Rio.
Sharp has also spoken of Kelly Holmes’ British record that she is targeting, but she took a leaf out of her Team GB teammate Charlie Grice’s handbook in qualifying for the final.
Grice showed admirable patience to make the men’s 1500m final earlier in the evening session and that inspired Sharp to produce her best when it counted.
“I am more relieved than anything else to make the final, I didn’t really believe it until I saw it up on the screen,” she added. “I am so happy to get that one out of the way and I know I can be competitive in the final but the hardest task was getting there.
“I watched Charlie’s semi-final and I was just telling myself to be patient and run my own race, to not panic and be strong over the last 100m.”
Meanwhile, Chris O’Hare could barely contain his frustration as his major championship hoodoo continued in Rio.
After advancing from Tuesday’s 1500m heats, O’Hare was back out on the Olympic Stadium’s distinctive blue track 48 hours later eyeing up a place in the final.
To do so automatically O’Hare needed to finish inside the top five and he looked like doing that as he was among the front runners for the majority of the race.
Coming around the final bend the 25-year-old was well on course, only to then run out of gas, coming home 11th in 3:44.27 minutes, almost five seconds off the winner, Kenyan Ronald Kwemoi.
O’Hare was struggling for answers as to why he had deteriorated so badly on the home straight.
“I just wasn’t good enough I’m afraid. It is bitterly disappointing as I’ve put so much into it after missing out last year,” he said.
“My family has put so much work in, my team have put so much work in, I am just gutted for them.
“All the support has been amazing and it’s hard to come here like this and disappoint so brutally.
“My body just shut down on me. I felt great, even going into the last lap I felt great, 300, 200 to go I still felt great – better than I did in the heat.
“Coming into the home straight I was still somewhat within myself but then I went to tap into that last year and it wasn’t there. At that point there is nothing you can do, your body just shuts down on you and you are 62kg of uselessness.”
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