Duane Solomon Is Now The 5th Fastest American Ever At 1:43.44

Solomon Finishes 3rd in Super Fast Race Where 5 Guys Broke 1:44

By LetsRun.com
July 21, 2012

Wow. What a surprise.

American fans, you definitely have someone to get excited about in terms of earning the first medal in the men's 800 at an Olympics since 1992. It's just not the person you necessarily thought.

Heading into the men's 800 on Friday in Monaco, we thought the race would tell us a lot about who might be able to battle for the silver and bronze behind favored David Rudisha in London.

How would Abubaker Kaki, last year's silver medallist, look after looking so bad in London last week?

If he faltered once again, might American Nick Symmonds battle for the win? How would Symmonds stack up against Poaland's Marcin Lewandowki, the 4th placer at Worlds last year, who hadn't raced since early June.

Well Kaki did falter and he finished next to last and Symmonds ran well - as he dipped under the 1:44 for just the fifth time in his career and just missed his PR (1:43.78) by the narrowest of margins -.02 - as he ran a seasonal's best (1:43.76) and defeated Lewandowski handily (by .59).

Results - 800 Metres - Men                                              

    1 Rotich , Abraham Kipchirchir     KEN    1:43.13 PB
    2 Kosencha , Leonard Kirwa         KEN    1:43.40 PB
    3 Solomon , Duane                  USA    1:43.44 PB
    4 López , Kevin                    ESP    1:43.74 NR
    5 Symmonds , Nick                  USA    1:43.78 SB
    6 Olivier , André                  RSA    1:44.29 PB
    7 Lewandowski , Marcin             POL    1:44.37 
    8 Osagie , Andrew                  GBR    1:44.48 SB
    9 Kaki , Abubaker                  SUD    1:44.89
   10 Bube , Andreas                   DEN    1:44.89 PB
   ** Scherer , Matthew                USA        DNF

Intermediate times: 400m: Scherer, Matthew (USA)49.55
600m:Kosencha, Leonard Kirwa (KEN) 1:16.35

But all of the American hype after this one is justifiably going to the other American in this race - Duane Solomon. The 27-year old, who heading into his last race at the Olympic Trials had never broken 1:45 in his life and had a pb of 1:45.23 before running 1:44.65 to make the team, had a night that every runner dreams of. He ran a massive 1.21 PR to place third. Yes that's right, Duane Solomon, a man who needed to run the Olympic 'A' standard of 1:45.50 in his previous race to be eligible from the Olympic team, went from 1:44.65 to 1:43.44 in a single swoop.

He's now the fifth fastest American in history.

Up front, there was a great battle for the win between the two Kenyan teenagers over the final 200 as 17-year-old Leonard Kosencha and 19-year-old Abraham Rotich ran virtually the entire turn and entire home stretch side by side. In the end, Rotich coming out in front as he broke his own Kenyan junior national record of 1:43.15 by running 1:43.13 to Kosencha's 1:43.40 pb.

But American fans, no need to worry about them, the US is pretty much only dreaming of a medal at the Olympics because Kenya can only send three to the Olympics and neither of these two Kenyan teens are going to London.

The Race
The best rabbit in the business in American Matt Scherer went through 200 perfectly in just over 24 with Kaki and Kosencha right behind single file. At this point, Solomon was in fourth and Symmonds second to last. At 400 (49.55), the order up front was the same except Rotich had moved up into third and Solomon (roughly 50.6-7) was now in 5th. Symmonds (roughly 50 high-51 flat) had moved up as well as was just two or three meters behind Solomon in 7th.

490 meters into the race, television announcer Tim Hutchings said it best - "they are showing no respect for Kaki at all" - as the young Kenyan Kosencha went by Kaki into the lead.

At 600 (1:16.35), Kosencha still led with Rotich in second and Solomon was where he was all race - in a great position in fourth (maybe 1:16.8) - with Symmonds just behind in 5th (1:17 flat- 1:17 low) as South Africa's André Olivier had moved into third. On the final turn, the two Kenyans ran virtually side by side for the entire turn, but when the came off of it, Solomon was right on their heels as he had moved up past a fading Olivier on the inside.

Symmonds had tailed Solomon on the final turn as well and was 3 or 4 meters behind Solomon in fifth. Over the final 100, not a whole lot changed position wise as everyone was having a great race. Solomon trailed the two Kenyans by roughly the same margin throughout. and Symmonds trailed Solomon by roughly the same amount until the very end. What happened is in the last 15 or 20 meters, Kosencha cracked and Rotich pulled clear for the win and in the process Solomon almost caught Kosencha at the line. Additionally, in the final 15 meters, Symmonds either let up or tied up and was passed at the line for fourth as he ended up in fifth behind the new Spanish national record of 1:43.74 by Kevin López.

Race Video

QT #1: What a great dream come true race for Duane Solomon. He's now faster than a US Olympic champion.

The 6 Fastest 800 Americans In History
1   1:42.60    AR          Johnny Gray    1985
2   1:43.20                Mark Everett   1997
3   1:43.35                David Mack     1985
4   1:43.38                Rich Kenah     1997
5   1:43.44                Duane Solomon  2012
6   1:43.50                Rick Wohlhuter 1974

QT #2: While we're sure Symmonds isn't happy to lose to Solomon, this race wasn't bad for his Olympic medal aspirations at all. He nearly PRd and he beat two of his biggest expected Olympic rivals in Lewandowski and Kaki. Kaki's continued struggles are key as let's face it - when Kaki is at his best - no American is beating him.

QT #3: The race was fast all the way down the board as there were six PRs and two seasonal bests. Heck, even the guy last PRd at 1:44.89. It should be pointed out that Kaki didn't drop out after getting passed. He finished next to last but still ran a 1:44.89 (yes the same time as last)- much better than the 1:46 he ran last week. Are we 100% sticking a fork in him for an Olympic medal? No. While it doesn't look good, he still did run 1:44.89.

QT #4: It's a bit weird that we're hoping and dreaming for an Olympic medal for an American this year when the facts are if they lined up all the best teenagers in the world, the top American would be lucky to finish top three.

Teens that we'd expect to beat the top Americans.

1. Nijel Amos - Botswana's best is world junior champ (1:43.11 pb)
2. Abraham Rotich -
The winner of today's race (1:43.13 pb)
3. Leonard Kosencha- The runner-up in Moaco (1:43.40 pb)
4. Timothy Kitum- The 17-year-old was runner-up at the Kenyan trials ahead of Rotich and Kosencha (1:43.94 pb)

QT #5: Some screenshots from the final 100 for you to let you see how close it was.

Nearing The Finish

Come on Duane!!

The Final Turn


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