Sport Stewart McSweyn, Ollie Hoare through to 1500m final
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Stewart McSweyn, Ollie Hoare through to 1500m final

A relieved Stewart McSweyn reacts after qualifying on Thursday for the 1500 metres final. Photo: Getty
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National record holder Stewart McSweyn has hung tough to give himself the chance to race for a medal in the Olympic men’s 1500m final on Saturday – and he will have fellow Australian Ollie Hoare for company.

McSweyn went to the front with two laps to go in the second semi on Thursday night, but he looked in all sorts of trouble 150 metres from the line after being caught by the chasing pack.

The 26-year-old from King Island found a second wind in the final straight to claim the fifth and final automatic qualifying position.

McSweyn clocked three minutes 32.54 seconds in a super-quick semi won by Kenyan Abel Kipsang in an Olympic record time of 3:31.65.

“I’m obviously happy with the big Q to qualify,” said McSweyn, who qualified for the Tokyo Games in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m, but decided to focus solely on the metric mile.

“The big thing was getting through because they don’t hand out medals in the semis.

“I’m confident I can bring it in the final.

“Hopefully I won’t do as much work and someone else will be at the front because that will make it a little bit easier.

“I’m riding momentum and I think I can compete with the top guys in two nights’ time.”

The US-based Hoare has nowhere near the public profile of McSweyn in Australia, but he was every bit as impressive.

The 24-year-old was fourth in the opening semi in 3:34.35.

“Tactically I didn’t run that too well,” Hoare said.

“I wanted to get out in front because I knew (gold medal favourite Timothy Cheruiyot from Kenya) was looking for a fast race and he certainly did that.

“I got caught behind but I wanted to be patient and not panic.

“I kept my strength and my speed for that last 100 and to get fourth in that stacked semi was fantastic.”

Not since the great John Landy and Merv Lincoln back at the 1956 Melbourne Games has Australia had two contenders in an Olympic men’s 1500m final.

It was another great showing by the Australian middle-distance contingent in Tokyo, coming 24 hours after Peter Bol finished a gutsy fourth in the 800m final.

Australia will also have two entrants in the women’s 1500m final on Friday after Jessica Hull and Linden Hall advanced through the semis.

The only Australian relay team in Tokyo, a women’s 4x400m squad anchored by Anneliese Rubie-Renshaw, was eliminated in the opening round.

-AAP