Marco Arop leads wire to wire to clinch a spot in the Tokyo 800-metre semifinals

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TOKYO — Canada's Marco Arop led wire to wire to win his heat of the 800 metres on Saturday and move onto the semifinals at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 22-year-old from Edmonton, who once dreamed of playing in the NBA, looked relaxed en route to a time of one minute 45.26 seconds.

"Things went really, definitely according to plan, to go out in front and control the race from start to finish," Arop said.

"So I'm really looking forward to (Sunday's semifinals), looking forward to that race."

Arop's best is 1:43.26, set at last month's Monaco Diamond League meet, where he narrowly missed Brandon McBride's Canadian record of 1:43.20.

"Seeing that time (in Monaco) definitely gave me another boost in confidence," he said.

McBride, meanwhile, didn't qualify for the Tokyo semifinals, fading down the stretch to finish sixth in his heat in 1:46.32.

Kenya's Ferguson Rotich had the fastest qualifying time of 1:43.75.

Sage Watson of Medicine Hat, Alta., was fourth in her 400-metre hurdles heat in 55.54 to move onto the semifinals. Noelle Montcalm of Windsor, Ont., was sixth in her heat (55.85) and didn't advance.

American Dalilah Muhammad had the fastest time in the heats of 53.97.

Three-time Olympic medallist Andre De Grasse opened his Olympics later Saturday with heats of the men's 100 metres.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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