London 2012: Makhloufi nicks Gold for Algeria; Ahoure, Rudisha and others claim final slots

Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi winning the men's 1500m at London Olympics / Photo: LOCOG

Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi won the men's 1500m gold medal and Kenya's David Rudisha led other Africans to the men's 800m final with Ivorian Murielle Ahoure the only continent's participant in the women' 200m Final at the London 2012 Olympics.

Makhloufi claimed men's 1500m gold in convincing fashion as he pulled clear down the home straight to win in 3:34.08. American Leonel Manzano took the silver () and Moroccan Abdalaati Iguider got the bronze ().

It was justice done for the Algerian who had earlier been expelled from the rest of Games by an official for "not putting in a bona-fide effort" in his 800m heat on Tuesday, but was promptly reinstated by the IAAF/IOC in time for the finals.

At his press conference, he said: "It was me who wanted to run, but I’d had knee problems, and the team doctors advised me not to run. But it flared up after I began, so I decided to drop out."

"I wasn’t really worried, I didn’t really think about it. There were two options, either I could run (in the 1500m) or I couldn’t. I tried to stay calm, and did my best to go on preparing for the 1500 metres final, and after the appeal, the medical tests proved that I did have an injury".

Despite the insinuations in the western press, Makhloufi is not an unknown quantity. This year he has been to Kenya, Oman and Sweden for training. He's also the reigning African 800m champion having won the title in Porto-Novo, Benin a month ago, in 1.43.88.

"I’m happy, and I believe all Algerians are happy for me," he said. "This victory gives hope to all Algeria, and particularly to its athletes; and the whole Arabic world. I worked so hard, and this is the result of all my hard work."

"Algeria is well known in the field of athletics, anyone would dream about following Morceli and all those others who paved the way for us to continue that tradition".

Also, Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia (1:44.34), David Rudisha from Kenya (1:44.35), Abubaker Kaki of Sudan (1:44.51), Nijel Amos of Botswana (1:44.54) and Kenya's Timothy Kitum (1.44.63) had all advanced to Thursday's Men's 800m Final.

Cote D'Ivoire's Murielle Ahoure is the continent's only participant in the women's 200m Final later today after qualifying automatically from Semi-final 2 yesterday in 2nd place with a fast 22.49 secs.

Nigeria woes

Nigeria's hope of an athletics medal suffered a huge blow when the country's lone entrant Blessing Okagbare failed to qualify for Thursday's final.

Okagbare, the Beijing 2008 Bronze medallist, could only manage a best jump of 6.34m (- 1.1) after 3 qualification attempt from Group A which is well short of the 6.70m automatic qualification standard.

The visibly distraught African champion placed 17th overall with jumps of 6.32m, 6.20m and 6.34m respectively.

Noah Akwu also fell short in the men's 200m after placing 5th in his 1st round heat in 20.67 secs. The race was won by Olympic champion Usain Bolt of Jamaica in 20.39 secs.

However, Commonwealth & African champion, Tosin Oke, raised hope by qualifying for the men's Triple Jump final on Thursday with a modest effort of 16.83m.

Selim Nurudeen also progressed to the men's 110m Hurdles semi-final after finishing second in his Heat and setting a personal best time of 13.51 secs.

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