Merritt, Murphy and Berrian advance to 400, 800 finals

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The semifinal heats of the men’s 400 and 800 meter races were held Saturday night, with a total of four American runners advancing to the finals of those two competitions.

In the 400 LaShawn Merritt managed to advance, with his time of 44.21 seconds ranking second among the semifinal competitors. Only Greneda’s Kirani James, who is the reigning Olympic champion in the 400, posted a faster time than Merritt as he finished in 44.09 seconds. Greneda has five athletes competing in Rio, and two of them will be running in the 400 meter final. Joining James is first-time Olympian Bralon Taplin, who posted the fourth-fastest semifinal time at 44.44 seconds.

Americans Gil Roberts and David Verberg failed to qualify for the 400 final, with Roberts’ time of 44.69 seconds placing him ninth among semifinalists and Verberg finishing 20th at 45.61 seconds.

In the men’s 800 final the U.S. will have two competitors, with Boris Berrian and Clayton Murphy qualifying out of heats two and three, respectively. Murphy’s time of 1:44.30 placed him fourth among semifinalists, with Berrian sixth with a time of 1:44.56. The fastest qualifying time was posted by France’s Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, who finished in 1:43.85. Also in the final is Kenya’s David Rudisha, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, as he ranked third among qualifiers with a time of 1:43.88.

The 400 final is scheduled for Sunday’s evening session just before the 100 meter final, and the 800 final will be run Monday.