Nikki Hamblin, Angie Smit into the 800m final

MARK GEENTY IN GLASGOW
Last updated 07:59 01/08/2014
Nikki Hamblin
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
FINAL HURDLE: Kiwi runner Nikki Hamblin will compete in the 800m final on Saturday morning (NZT) in Glasgow.
Angie Smit
Getty
NEED FOR SPEED: Angie Smit will run in the 800m final at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

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As the rain swept in to Hampden Park, Angie Smit barely noticed and splashed to her first Commonwealth Games final.

The Canterbury runner bounced back from a flat opening day to finish third in her 800m semifinal and book automatic qualification for tomorrow's final.

She'll be joined by Nikki Hamblin who'll get a chance to repeat her Delhi silver medal, after finishing third in semifinal two.

There were some alarm bells when Smit led the field in her heat, but faded to fifth, qualifying for the semifinals as one of the four fastest losers.

A little over 24 hours later and Smit was fresh, confident and ran a smart semifinal behind Kenya's Eunice Sum, warm favourite for the gold medal. Smit eased back from lane eight, remained patient and timed her run down the outside to finish top-three for automatic qualification.

Sum clocked 2:01.38, ahead of Canada's Melissa Bishop (2:01.86) and Smit (2:01.97).

It was cold and wet, and Smit didn't care as others shivered.

"I got drenched a few times training at home."

The 22-year-old, a comfortable winner of the national title against Hamblin in March, was ecstatic.

"It's been my dream all along. Especially after yesterday I was a bit concerned, it was pretty disappointing to hit the wall so badly with 100m to go. I thought maybe something was wrong but I just went too early," Smit said.

"I was a bit worried to be sitting seventh but I knew they were going out hard and I thought 'be patient' and stay relaxed and trust that I have that kick at the finish. I'm so stoked, I don't think it's hit me yet. Now I have to focus on performing and doing even better in the final."

Smit seems to have half of Canterbury with her. She counted her parents, uncle and aunt, fiancee and his parents among her support crew.

And she'll have company in the final with Hamblin, looking to add to her Delhi haul of two silvers in the 800m and 1500m.

"I'm so happy for Nikki, I've always looked up to her and I'm so inspired by her and think she's amazing. It'll be pretty cool racing with her and hopefully two Kiwis can be on that dais."

Hamblin finished fifth in the 1500m final and was on her fourth successive night at the track.

She also ran a smart race, instructed by coach Steve Willis to stick to the inside and pick the runs when they came. She finished strongly to clock 2:02.87 in a slower semifinal, behind winner Jessica Judd (England) who ran 2:02.26.

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She hoped for a fast-run final so she could arrive with the last run, her conditioning over the longer distances the key.

"In the last part of the 800m you're not kicking, you're holding. In the final in Delhi with 200m to go I was at the back and it looked like I did a massive kick for home but in reality everyone else tied up. It was the same today," Hamblin said.

"I'm stoked that Angie and I are going to be there. It's the last one so let's leave everything out there and it doesn't matter how tired I am after that."

- Stuff

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