Alysia Montaño Nearly Wins, Kate Grace Joins The Sub-2:00 Club At Paris 2013 Diamond League

July 6, 2013
Paris, France

Heading into the final 100 meters of the women’s 800 at the 2013 Areva Meeting, 5-time US champion Alysia Montaño had a 2-meter lead on the rest of the field. She’d maintain it halfway home, but world leader Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi would overtake Montaño and get the win in 1:57.26. Near the finish, Morocco’s Malika Akkaoui would also just get by Montaño to grab second in 1:57.64. Montaño ended up third in a season’s best and her fourth fastest time ever of 1:57.75.

Montaño Takes It Out Hard

As usual, Alysia Montaño took this one out hard behind the rabbit. She was at 27 the first 200m as Niyonsaba almost jogged off the line the first 20 meters. Niyonsaba soon got going, however, as at 200, Niyonsaba was the first chaser behind Montaño, about 5-6 meters back.

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Niyonsaba Takes the Lead Niyonsaba Takes the Lead

Niyonsaba would stay behind Montaño, with a visible gap between them, all the way until the final 100m, when Niysonaba closed well and pulled away for victory.

The rabbit was 55.89 at 400 with Montaño 5-6 meters back in about 56.5 and then Niyonsaba was about 5-6 meters back in roughly 57-low.

Behind the top three, there was a nice battle for fourth. American Kate Grace was sixth with 100m to go. She moved up well and joined the sub-2:00 club in style in fourth in 1:59.47. Not bad for her first race in Europe ever, much less her first Diamond League race 800 (she finished 8th in the adidas GP 1500 in 4:08.92 in NYC).

Also making her DL debut was America’s 2012 World Junior champion Ajee’ Wilson. She finished eighth in 2:00.90, the second-fastest of her career.

Stanford’s Justine Fedronic was one spot behind Ajee’ in a PR of 2:00.97. At the bell, Grace, Wilson and Fedronic had been 8-9-10.

Montaño, Grace, Wilson, And Fedronic React

Montaño said she has had hamstring problems since after Penn Relays, but things are going better now. “It still catches up to me when I try and go a quicker pace, but things are falling together well for me,” she said.

Montaño wasn’t disappointed about being caught at the end. “It’s a competition. That’s the race. It’s something you work on.”

Up next before Worlds is one more race in Madrid and then more training California.

Kate Grace performed admirably in her first European race ever. She said the crowd was so loud that she thought Tirunesh Dibaba had set a world record in the race before hers, the 5,000m (it was a world-leading 14:23).

As for what’s next, Grace said that’s to be determined.  She may run a 1,500m, two days from now, has a race scheduled in Ligano, Italy, but things are largely up in the air. This type of race will no doubt open up lanes for her.

Grace, a Yale alum, was asked if the success of fellow Ivy Leaguer, 2011 World #1 Motgan Uceny (Cornell), inspired her. Grace said, “(Morgan) was an idol of mine in school, just knowing it (success on the world stage) was a possibility.”

Ajee’ Wilson wished she ran faster but it was her second fastest ever. She’s got 2 more races before Worlds.

NCAA third-placer Justin Fedronic of Stanford had a nice PR running for France. She’s got a chance to go to Worlds, but said it likely will take an “A” standard even though she is France’s #1 right now.

Interviews appear below and then quick takes appear below that, then results and then a race video so keep scrolling down.

Alysia Montano Came Close To The Win
Kate Grace Sub-2:00 Club!
Ajee’ Wilson’s First Diamond League Meet
Justin Fedronic With A Huge PR

QT: A Good Night For The American-Based Women
Montaño ran well, Grace was a big surprise, Ajee’ Wilson ran what we expected her to run until her sub-2:00 at Nationals, and Justin Fedronic ran a huge PR.

QT #2: A Big PR For The 25-Year-Old Moroccan Malika Akkaoui In Second
The 25-year-old two-time African bronze medallist, who ran 1:57.64, had a previous PR of 1:59.01.

QT #3: Grace: From 2:01.63 To 1:59:47 In One Month
Oiselle’s Kate Grace kept the ball rolling. Not only did she go sub-2:00 for the first time, but she has now improved 2 seconds in a month.

NCAA third placer Justine Fedronic sporting the Stanford singlet NCAA third placer Justine Fedronic sporting the Stanford singlet.

QT #4: Fedronic From 2:03.54 To 2:00.97 In One Month
It’s been a spectacular last month for Stanford’s Justine Fedronic, who started June 7th with a 2:03.54 personal best, but lowered that to 2:01.67 in the final of NCAAs and now lowered it again to 2:00.97 on July 6th. She said she believes she can go sub-2:00 this year.

800 Metres - Women                                            
    1 Niyonsaba , Francine             BDI    1:57.26          4        
    2 Akkaoui , Malika                 MAR    1:57.64          2        
    3 Johnson Montano , Alysia         USA    1:57.75          1        
    4 Grace , Kate                     USA    1:59.47                   
    5 Okoro , Marilyn                  GBR    1:59.76                   
    6 Hilali , Siham                   MAR    2:00.15                   
    7 Arzamasava , Maryna              BLR    2:00.70                   
    8 Wilson , Ajee                    USA    2:00.90                   
    9 Fedronic , Justine               USA    2:00.97
   10 Magiso , Fantu                   ETH    2:11.82
      Usovich , Sviatlana              BLR        DNF

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