22.08.2008 – Graham Croker
Lachlan Renshaw’s outstanding year on the track stalled last night in the first round of the men’s 800 metres at Beijing’s National Stadium, better known as The Bird’s Nest.
The Sydney University Sports Scholarship holder finished sixth in a field of seven that included two of the gold medal favourites in Wilfred Kipkemboi Bungei of Kenya and Yury Borzakovskiy or Russia.
Bungei won the heat in 1:44.90 from Borzakovskiy in 1:45.15 and Nadjim Manseur of Algeria in 1:45.62.
Renshaw posted 1:49.19, well outside the 1:45.79 he ran to win the Melbourne Grand Prix in February, the fastest time by an Australian since 2001.
Starting from the second outside lane, Renshaw crossed to share the lead for the first lap, but the swoopers gathered up the front-runners 300m out and powered home.
With the top two from each of eight heats, plus the next eight best times going through to the next round, Renshaw’s Olympic campaign has ended along with his hopes of becoming Australia’s first male 800m runner to reach an Olympic final since Ralph Doubell won in Mexico in 1968.
The Sydney University Engineering/Commerce student won every grand prix and every championship he contested in the summer and along with his A Olympic qualifier in Melbourne he posted a B-qualifier in Canberra.
“The Melbourne win and my time was just amazing, I was ecstatic,” Renshaw said at the time. “It was a big surprise to run that fast but we knew that I had it in me. My 400 times had come down a lot so I knew I had the speed I just needed the right race situation.”
Renshaw, who lives and trains on Sydney’s northern beaches, was thrilled with his Olympic selection.
“Last year (2007) was all about development,” he said. “I didn’t really progress too well with my times but I progressed as an athlete by racing in the US, the World University Games in Bangkok and the Zurich Golden League meet which is one of the biggest in the world. We knew that this year I was going to come out and run some good times.”
He certainly did – good enough to get to Beijing.