Holmes keeps energy reserves on ice for final

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The Independent Online

Kelly Holmes will discover tomorrow if running the 800 metres here has taken the edge off her chances in the 1500m final. Judging by the way she reached that final last night, it doesn't look like it.

Kelly Holmes will discover tomorrow if running the 800 metres here has taken the edge off her chances in the 1500m final. Judging by the way she reached that final last night, it doesn't look like it.

The newly ensconced 800m champion ran a calm, tactical race in the slower of the two semi-finals, hanging back from the pack until the field approached the bell. At that point she moved deliberately up on the outside of the bunch as Natalya Yevdokimova, of Russia, and Carla Sacramento, of Portugal, led.

As they came around the final bend, Holmes was in sixth place, and for a fleeting moment it looked as if she might have left more of her energy in the past week than she hoped. Not so. Halfway down the straight she moved out into lane three and accelerated to the front, glancing pointedly to her left as she did so, as if to say to the others, "are you getting this?"

Holmes applied the same eyeballing treatment to Yevdokimova, winner in 4min 04.66sec, as she eased up to take second place in 4:04.77. If the whole performance looked icy calm, there was an unusual explanation. Holmes revealed afterwards that she had been in a restorative ice bath with Jo Pavey until 1.30am.

"I've got more than I expected in the 800m already," she said. "I know I'm in good shape. Tonight I was just concerned about getting into the final."

Despite her insistence earlier this season, and indeed last, that the 1500m would be her main goal, Holmes has not won a global medal over the metric mile since taking silver in Gothenburg at the 1995 World Championships, although she has taken two Commonwealth 1500m titles, the last of them in Manchester two years ago.

All too often she has seemed to have had too much time to worry about the race over three-and-a-half laps, and even her more recent experiences at 1500m have worn away at her morale. At the world indoor championships in March she was all set to go one better than the silver position she had earned at the previous year's event in Birmingham when she fell to the boards.

Last month in Zurich, she ran a sensible tactical race, only to see Poland's Wioletta Janowska overtake her in the final few metres. What she has now, that she didn't have then, is the confidence of achievement. She has nothing to lose against a field that is nevertheless full of formidable opponents. Yevdokimova is likely to be in the frame tomorrow, along with her colleague Tatyana Tomashova and another Pole, Anna Jakubczak.

There is also the threat of the woman who leads this year's world standings with a time of 3:58.28, Turkey's Elvan Abeylegesse.

The naturalised Ethiopian, who became the 5,000m world record holder in June when she lowered the mark to 14:24.68, has become a major contender since moving to Turkey in 1999 and becoming sponsored by ENKA, the country's largest construction company.

"I train now at high altitude in Turkey as I think that some of my former compatriots see me as a threat," Abbeylegesse said. "They are uncomfortable with me training in Ethiopia." Hayley Tullett, Britain's last 1500m medallist at a global championship - she took an unexpected bronze in Paris last year - failed to progress from the other semi-final, finishing second from last in a race won by Maria Cioncan, of Romania, in 4:06.69. Tullett, who was never in contention, finished in 4:08.92.

With their former Olympic champion Allen Johnson crashing out of the 110m hurdles opening heats the day before, US hopes in the event began to look seriously wobbly when their second runner, Duane Ross, also failed to progress in his semi-final.

But Terence Trammell's second place in the second semi-final ensured that the United States maintained their record of having competitors in every Olympic high hurdles final since 1896, other than the 1980 Moscow Olympics, where a US boycott was too high a hurdle for even their best athletes to clear.

In the latest development to the Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou doping scandal that has marred the Games since before the Opening Ceremony, the athletics international governing body said it will launch an investigation into the two Greek sprinters.

Kenteris and Thanou, the host nations' two clearest contenders for athletics medals, withdrew from the Olympics following a suspicious motorcycle accident just hours after missing a drug test. While the International Association of Athletics Federations investigates, Kenteris and Thanou are free to participate in competitions, said Nick Davies, an IAAF spokesman.

Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, a lawyer for the two athletes, called it a "positive step".