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IAAF Championships Starts In Moscow, US Runner Symmonds Speaks On Anti-Gay Laws

posted 10 Aug 2013, 05:47 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 10 Aug 2013, 05:48 ]

The World Athletics Championships starts in Moscow with men's 800m heats in limelight at the morning session, U.S. runner Nick Symmonds explains his position against Russian anti-gay laws.

 MOSCOWRUSSIA (AUGUST 10, 2013) (AMS/DENTSU/REUTERS) -  The world athletics championships got off to low-key but high-humidity start in front of a few hundred hardy fans scattered around the Luzhniki Stadium on Saturday (August 10), with star attraction Usain Bolt ready to be unleashed in the evening.

Among those braving the warm sunshine and sweltering air were Bolt's parents, on board for the first appearance of the world record holder later on Saturday in the first round of the 100 metres.

The first medals of the championship will be decided later on Saturday in the women's marathon and the early stadium action centred on the decathlon and various qualifying rounds.

Most attention was given to men's 800m heats where competition is expected to be strong due to the absence of world record holder David Rudisha who pulled out of the championships due to his knee injury.

"I do guarantee whoever wins this championship will be questioning 'could I have taken David (Rudisha) down today?' And myself, I'd be wondering the same thing, but a world title is a world title, and there's 24 great guys who just moved on to the semis, and you're going to have to be firing on all cylinders to be world champion," U.S. runner Nick Symmonds who won of this morning's heats told Reuters.

Symmonds, multiple American 800m champion became earlier in the week the first competitor at the world athletics championships to criticise Russia's anti-gay propaganda law.

Fifth in last year's Olympic 800m final and a medal prospect in Moscow this week, he wrote in his blog for Runner's World magazine that he "disagreed" with the controversial new legislation, which outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and has become a political hot potato for next year's Sochi winter Olympics, when it will apply to athletes and spectators.

On Saturday he again maintained he will say no more out of respect for the host nation.

"I may disagree with the laws of the Russians, but I'm not going to tell them how to govern their people - I'm here as a guest, and I will behave responsibly and obey their laws. But when I go back to America I'll continue to speak my mind. I'll continue to exercise my freedom of speech," Symmonds said.

The favourites on 800m include French runner Pierre-Ambroise Bosse.

"I hope to qualify for the final. This was the target I set for myself for this championships. We will see tomorrow, tomorrow there will be more to say," Bosse said after winning his heat.

"I love the tension, I love the pressure. It's going to be a lot tougher than it was this morning, but at least it's an evening race. I'll get to have a lie-in," British runner Andrew Osagie added.

U.S. athlete Duane Solomon has the fastest time these season out of those competing in Moscow.

"I just want to kind of get through tomorrow and see how everything goes, with me and then my competition. And then I can kind of judge and see how I want to race, see how the other guys are racing and then make a plan with my coach. And then we'll figure it out," he said.

Though it was not Solomon, but Ethiopian Mohammed Aman who is the only man to have beatenDavid Rudisha over 800m in the last three years.

Aman underlined his status as favourite to take the two-lap gold as he produced the fastest time of the morning heats, one minute, 44.93 seconds.

"For qualifications it's a very fast race you know. But you don't know, it's first qualification and you have to qualify for the second round, so it's really fast," Aman told Reuters.

In other morning events, American Olympic champion and world record holder Ashton Eaton set the early pace in the decathlon with a 10.32-seconds 100 metres and 7.32 metre long jump for a two-event tally of 2003 points.

There was a surprise in women's discus as China's Siyu Gu, whose 67.86 metres makes her second in the world this year behind dominant Croatian Sandra Perkovic, had a miserable morning with three fouls and failed to reach Sunday's final.

Ukrainian Natalia Semenova will not forget the event in a hurry either after being cracked in the face by Zaneta Glanc during the Pole's discus-swinging warm-up routine.

European bronze medalist Semenova, who had been sitting on a bench minding her own business, received treatment for a deep gash on the bridge of her nose and was able to continue but she managed only one legal throw and failed to qualify.