July 26, 2013
Nick Symmonds ran a seasonal best 1:43.67 tonight to win the men’s 800 in front of a sold-out crowd at the 2013 Anniversary Games Diamond League meet in London.
Symmonds picked up a big confidence boost in his last race before Worlds. For the second straight time since his five-year streak as USA champion at 800 meters was halted by Duane Solomon, Symmonds got the better of Solomon and Solomon is the fastest man in the world in 2013 at 1:43.27. Tonight’s win was on a much bigger stage than Symmonds’ previous win over Solomon at the end of June at the Edmonton International Classic.
Solomon ended up second in 1:44.12 as he just held off fellow American Brandon Johnson, who was third in 1:44.19, as the top three at the US champs were top three in London.
This race was basically a battle between the top two from the US champs from the get-go. No one else in the field ever showed any indication that they might challenge for the win.
Matt Scherer rabbited the first 400 in 49.54. Solomon was the first racer in about 50-flat with Symmonds running aggressively just behind him in third. Symmonds clearly wasn’t going to be coming from way behind as he has been known to do in his career. Behind them, but after a gap of 3-4 meters, was Johnson.
Solomon had the lead at 600 (1:16.35) and kept it until halfway down the homestretch, but there was no doubt who was the best over the last 50 as Symmonds pulled away to win convincingly. Johnson closed hard in the last 20 meters to nearly get second (it’s possible Solomon let up a bit after he realized he was beaten).
The fourth placer here was the fourth placer at the Kenyan Trials – Job Kinyor.
Symmonds was obviously pleased to have gotten the win tonight:
“I loved it, it’s a very special moment for me to be racing back here
and racing well.”
“I felt really good about it – I ran 3:34 in Monaco last week for
1,500m, so I knew my strength was there. I needed to work on my speed
and I had a really tough session here in St. Mary’s this week. My
question was, would my legs be able to recover from that quickly.
Clearly they have.”
“I’m glad my final tune-up race for Moscow went well. I feel confident
about it now.”
“I really wanted a medal last year and I’ve been in four finals so I’m
now hoping it will be fourth time the charm.”
Quick takes, results, a race video and race photos appear below.
Quick Take #1: Fourth Time The Charm For A Medal, But What Color?
The fourth time at Worlds very well could be the charm for Symmonds. Symmonds goes into Worlds not only as a very realistic medal threat, but as a legitimate gold medal threat.
And we think he knows that. When we saw him running aggressively up front, we wondered if that was because he realizes he has a legitimate shot to win Worlds. Staying out of trouble and running from the back is a great way to get third, but it’s hard to weave your way though a ton of traffic from last to first.
Will Symmonds run aggressively in Moscow? We think he will.
QT #2: If you think we are being American fan boys and exaggerating Symmonds’ chances for gold, think again. Last year, Symmonds actually got a little bit miffed with us as we kept reminding him of what a difficult task he faced in winning a medal, as the 800 was totally loaded last year.
And we were right, as despite Symmonds’ 1:42.95 in the final, he only ended up fifth.
Coming into tonight’s race, the favorite to Moscow was either the World leader Solomon or Ethiopia’s Mo Ahman, the world #2 who has won his last six races. Since Solomon has lost two straight to Symmonds, Solomon can’t be the favorite. Aman deserves to be the favorite with Symmonds the #2 choice.
QT #3: The fourth and fifth placers at USAs this year were also in this race and had totally different results. The fourth placer at USAs, 2013 NCAA indoor and outdoor champ Elijah Greer finished last in 1:45.96. The fifth placer at USAs, Tyler Mulder, was fifth here in 1:44.72.
Race Video (US Visitors Only):