It’s gold for Uganda. Halima Nakaayi beat the odds to win the 800M finals on Monday night at the ongoing IAAF World Athletics Championship in Doha.
Nakaayi raced from behind to cross the line in 1:58.04, while Winnie Nanyondo came fourth, just a place off the podium finish.
This was Uganda’s first time to have not only two but a representative in the finals of the 800M.
Ajee Wilson came third behind Raevy Wilson who clinched silver.
Going to Doha, Nakaayi was a big outsider for a podium finish. Wilson was the bookmakers’ favourite – She had won gold in 2011 World U18, globa1 U20 in 2012 and back to back silver medals at World indoor championships and a bronze in 2017 World outdoors. She had also won Diamond league meetings in 2019 in Stockholm, Monaco and Birmingham before taking the series in Brussels.
Other major contenders included Lynsey Sharp who was sixth in Rio, 23-year old Raevyn Rogers and Kenya’s Eunice Sum who won gold and bronze in 2013 and 2015 world championship respectively.
But without the dominant Caster Semenya, Nakaayi was confident that the race was wide open and up for grabs. Semenya is not competing after Swiss court ruled in favour of the new regulations barring athletes with naturally high testosterone levels from competing.
Wilson set the tone and was in starring role going into the final round. Nakaayi continued to remain keep the leader within reach before making her intentions known with 30 metres to go and smashing the national record in 1:58.04.
Previous Women’s 800m World champions
2019 Halimah Nakaayi (UGA) 1:58.04
2017 Caster Semenya (RSA) 1:55.16
2015 Maryna Arzamasava (BLR) 1:58.03
2013 Eunice Sum (KEN) 1:57.38
2011 Caster Semenya (RSA) 1:56.35
2009 Caster Semenya (RSA) 1:55.45
2007 Janeth Jepkosgei (KEN) 1:56.04
2005 Zuila Calatayud (CUB) 1:58.82
2003 Maria Mutola (MOZ) 1:59.89
2001 Maria Mutola (MOZ) 1:57.17