Nairobi: Olympic and world 800 metres record holder David Rudisha began his bid to qualify for next month`s world championships when he cruised to victory in the Kenya trials on Friday.
The 26-year-old, who has struggled with injuries over the last two years, won the second semi-final in a time of 1:44.2 to advance to Saturday`s final.
But Rudisha showed he still has to do to regain the form which took him to a world record performance at the 2012 London Olympics.
"I am happy with the way my body is responding and I am getting back my speed," said Rudisha after the race, his first event on home soil in three years.
"Mentally it has been been tough for me. But the good thing is that I am building up gradually and I am almost there. I thank my fellow Kenyans for their great concern and keeping their faith in me."
Rudisha faces potentially tougher opposition from a couple of youngsters in the final on Saturday: Job Kinyor, who pushed him all the way to finish second in 1:44.6, and Ferguson Rotich, who also clocked 1:44.6 in winning the first semi-final.
Former double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot made a triumphant return to the women`s 10,000m to book her ticket to the world championships in Beijing.
Cheruiyot, who is returning from a two-year maternity break, held off the challenge of US-based newcomer Betsy Saina to win in 32:58.4.
Commonwealth champion Joyce Chepkurui was third in 33:00.1.
Some of the seasoned athletes dropped out of the race, including the London Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Sally Kipyego, the 2009 world champion Linet Masai and the reigning world half marathon champion Florence Kiplagat.
The Kenya team for the world championships and September`s Pan Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville will be selected on the final day of the trials on Saturday.