Kamel eyes double
Newly-minted world 1500m champion Yusuf Saad Kamel of Bahrain took a step to repeating his father Billy Konchellah's feat of winning the world 800m crown when he breezed through qualifying heats here on Thursday.
The Kenyan-born runner produced a fantastic late surge to claim gold in the men's 1500m late on Wednesday but showed no signs of tiredness as he won his heat with ease in 1min 46.44sec ahead of Kenyan rival Absel Kiprop.
"I did not sleep last night because I was very excited," admitted Kamel. "I slept just two hours in the morning but I still had enough energy for the race today."
Kamel, who until 2003 competed for Kenya as Gregory Konchellah, is the son of Billy, who was world 800m champion in 1987 and 1991, and bronze medallist in 1993.
The 800/1500m double was last achieved by Kamel's disgraced Moroccan-born team-mate Rashid Ramzi at the 2005 worlds in Helsinki but Kamel will have a fight on his hands in what looks like a very tight field.
Defending world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Alfred Yego led a trio of impressive Kenyans into the semi-finals scheduled for 1830 GMT on Friday.
Kiprop, fourth in the 1500m, Kenyan champion David Rudisha and Jackson Kivuva all moved effortlessly into the semis, along with Bahrain's Belal Mansoor Ali, formerly John Yego of Kenya, and dangerous Moroccan Amine Laalou.
"It was a good race," Yego said of his heat win. "It will be difficult for me to defend my title. Now, with the yellow bib, everybody knows it and it means a lot of pressure for me."
South African Mbulaeni Mulaudzi won his heat ahead of Sudan's Abubaker Kaki, who has set the world's leading time this season.
And Canadian Gary Reed and Russia's former Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovsky, silver and bronze medallists at the Osaka worlds in 2007, both also qualified to join Sudan's reigning Olympic silver medallist Ismail Ismail.
In the field, defending champion Brad Walker of the United States withdrew from the men's pole vault competition because of a thigh injury but Olympic champion steve Hooker of Australia competed despite a nagging groin injury.
Walker, who has been suffering from the injury since the Monaco meeting at the end of July, waited until the last minute to announce his pull-out, just as qualifications were getting under way at the Olympic Stadium.
Hooker bade his time as the field was whittled away and cleared 5.65m on his first vault to ensure qualification for the final scheduled for 1615 GMT on Saturday.
But the 27-year-old, who is second in the all-time lists behind Ukrainian legend Sergei Bubka with a best of 6.06m, looked visibly stiff in picking himself up from the crash mat after his sole attempt.
With just three events remaining in the decathlon - the pole vault, javelin and 1500m, American Trey Hardee regained the lead on 6,334 points ahead of overnight leader Oleksky Kasyanov of Ukraine (6,275).
Russian Aleksandr Pogorelov leap-frogged into third on 6,163 with an impressive 48.46m in the discus.
There was bad news from the British camp with the announcement that 2005 world champion Paula Radcliffe had pulled out of the women's marathon on Sunday.
Despite winning the New York half-marathon last weekend and flying immediately to Berlin, Radcliffe announced that she did not feel ready to race the longer event.
"I am devastated I wasn't ready in time, especially having got so close in such a short time frame," said the 35-year-old, who underwent a foot operation in March.
"However, after having the surgery to successfully put the years of injury behind me it is very important to me that I come back to racing often and winning at 100 percent and continue strongly and successfully through to London 2012."