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Defending champion hopes for a successful defence for a crown

Eunice Sum is showing no signs of any pressure as she continues the defence of her world title 800m in Beijing today.

The 27-year-old from Uasin Gishu County has become the undisputed queen over two laps, with an unbeaten streak dating back to the Van Damme Memorial meeting in Brussells last September when, despite the defeat by Brenda Martinez and Lynsey Sharp, she made sure of holding onto the Diamond League title she took in 2013.

That run of seven straight wins this year was added to when she eased through yesterday morning’s heats of the 15th World Championship in the Chinese capital, controlling the race from the gun to finish ahead in 1:59.67.

It was not the quickest of the qualifiers – seven of whom dipped under two minutes – but that didn’t bother the quietly spoken Sum, who is also reigning African and Commonwealth Champion. As she stepped off the Bird’s Nest Stadium track Sum commented: “The race went well.

“It’s not important to win this race just to qualify. “Championships are always tricky – you can arrive as the favourite and things go wrong, so it’s important that I get prepared properly. “When I was in Nairobi I worked really hard in training to get ready for these championships.

“I have had a good work-out today and tomorrow (Thursday) I will do something, including some stretching, and then come back to the stadium and get ready to try and qualify again. “Having many races (three in four days for the finalists) is nothing new to me.

“Before the final, if I make it, I will sit down with my coach and discuss how the race should go.” Personal best Sum, who is a first cousin to 2007 World Men 800m champion, Alfred Kirwa Yego broke an almost two-year- old personal best when winning the Paris Diamond League meeting in July – her 1:56.99 also putting her top of this year’s world rankings.

She voiced her frustration at not improving on her 2013 world championship winning time for so long but now believes she might be standing on the springboard to even greater things. “When I won in Moscow I set a new personal best and failed to improve upon it last year,” recalls Sum.

“I was very pleased to run so fast and get under that time this year. “I think I am in a better shape than I’ve ever been and am ready to lower my personal best here if needed.”

The women’s 800m semi-finals begin at 3.25pm local time (8.05pm in China) with Sum drawn in a tough third race including Scotland’s Sharp, Ethiopian-born now Netherland’s athlete Sifan Hassan, and others who have been below two minutes this year. The first two and next two fastest in each semi progress to Saturday’s final.

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