The big names in the women's 800 meters qualified comfortably for the semifinals on Wednesday, and will face their first real challenge on Thursday. Reigning Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo won her heat, as did reigning world champion Mariya Savinova. American Alysia Johnson Montano, the United States' best hope for a medal in the event, also won her heat. She beat out Caster Semenya, the silver medalist at the 2011 World Championships, who also comfortably qualified.
Jelimo will be expected to win her semifinal on Thursday, which is much lighter than the second semifinal. Johnson Montano and Semenya have been placed in the second semifinal, while Savinova will be the top runner in the third semifinal.
Wednesday's women's 800 meters was also notable because of a historic first, featuring Sarah Attar. She failed to qualify for the next round, but in her case, that was hardly what was important. Attar became the first woman from Saudi Arabia to compete in track and field at the Olympics when she ran in the sixth heat.
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