Alysia Montaño Goes For It But Comes Up Agonizingly Short as Brenda Martinez Snags Bronze; Eunice Sum Stuns Mariya Savinova For Gold
LRC recap and analysis of women’s 800m final won by Eunice Sum.
Martinez’s Bronze is 1st Ever For Us At Worlds
August 18, 2018
Moscow, Russia – Kenya’s Eunice Sum surprised a lot of people by winning the World title, World and Olympic champ Mariya Savinova got silver before the Russian crowd, and American Brenda Martinez picked up the bronze.
This one went as expected until the final 100m. American Alysia Montaño did her normal thing and got off to a huge lead and led onto the final straight. The field was coming up behind her and Montano could not hold on in the 50 meters. Kenya’s Sum was coming quickly and right on her heels was the 2011 and 2012 champ Savinova.
Montano’s dream of gold was over 50 meters from the finish, but the surprising thing was Sum then pulled away from Savinova for gold.
When Sum came by, Montano turned her head, and tried desperately to hang on for a medal.
It was very tight for the bronze medal and American Brenda Martinez just overtook the Montaño, who dove to the track at the finish. American world junior champion Ajee Wilson was also fighting for a medal until the closing stages. In the end, she finished sixth – only .30 from third in a new American junior record of 1:58.21 as 3-4-5-6 were .30 apart.
Montano was in tears on the track after the finish and the youngster Wilson tried to console here. Coming through the media area roughly fifteen minutes after the race, Montano was still in tears. Martinez did not know she had won bronze until it came up on the screen and then she burst into tears of joy .04 seconds is all that separated them.
Quick takes, then results and then photos appear below.
1) Brenda Martinez 800m Bronze Medallist
At the start of the year not a lot of people would have said Martinez was the third best 800m runner in America. Now she’s the Worlds bronze medallist in her first ever appearance at Worlds. Believe it or not, this was the first-ever medal for a US women in the 800 at Worlds.
Martinez came up big when she needed to. Heading into Worlds, we thought it would be hard for her to medal if her PB stayed in the 1:58 low range. Well her pb is now 1:57.91.
2) Martinez Ended Up With Joe Vigil Because Two Other Training Groups Turned Her Down
After the race, Martinez said the final 100m she was thinking of her coach Joe Vigil and digging deep because of him. Video interview to the right with her. We asked Martinez how she ended up with Coach Vigil and she said it was because two US groups did not let her in their training group believing she wasn’t good enough. So she found Vigil. She’s clearly very good and has loftier goals. She said coach Vigil talks “1:55 (for 800) and 3:55 (for 1500)” with her.
3) The Agony of Defeat for Montano
What heartbreak. Montaño’s front running style resulted in her getting gunned down in the most painful of ways tonight. There is no more painful way to come up short than to give up a big lead. But her dive at at the finish showed she 100% left it all out there. For that she should be commended.
Montaño lying on the track, crying will certainly be one of the lasting images of the 2013 World Champs.
The tears didn’t stop on the track. Montaño deserves a ton of praise for having the guts to try to face the media after this one. They say the measure of a person is how the respond when they are down, not up and Montano responded amazingly and was a true professional.
It took Alysia a full minute to get the tears to stop before she basically sobbed the following:
“I just wanted to do what I’ve practicing to do. I’ve had phenomenal practices and I don’t believe that today I showed what we’ve been doing.
It’s just that this is the final exam, and I just didn’t do that great of a job in the last 50 which is what we’ve been practicing, and that was the last piece that I didn’t put together. I’m really unhappy and I don’t know what else to say.”
Let’s hope Montaño doesn’t give up. She should be encouraged by Nick Symmonds breakthrough this year. He was knocking on the door for a long time before breaking through this year. Montaño has been unbelievably close three straight years. She was 4th in Daegu, 5th in London and now 4th here.
4) Ajee Wilson 1:58.21!
What a run by Wilson. The youngster ran her best when it counted the most. So much for her being tired by a long season. We heard one journalists predicting incredible things for her in Rio, but let’s just enjoy this one first.
5) Sum was surprised by her gold as she didn’t even expect to be on the podium
Kenya’s Eunice Sum ran the 1500 in the Olympics last year (went out in the heats) and hadn’t even run a single 800 on the European circuit this summer. She’d run several 1500s but hadn’t done well (5th in Doha, 7th at Pre) and decided to run the 800 at the Kenyan Trials. She’s certainly thrilled to have chosen the 800 now. At the post-race press conference, Sum said she was surprised by her gold as she didn’t expect to be on the podium.
6) Savinova was surprised by her silver as she said training has been going great and she blamed the loss on poor tactics.
One of the big questions before this race was, “Is Savinova in good form as she hadn’t run all that fast this year?”
After the race, Savinova revealed she thought she was in great condition coming into this one amd seemed stunned that she didn’t win and she blamed her loss on a tactical mistake. Savinova said she was 100% confident she’d gun down Montaño but hadn’t focused on Sum.
“Well I’ll say one thing. It was my tactical mistake on the finish line. Probably I didn’t believe that she (Sum) can do that,” said Savinova. “To be on the peak of my form in these championships and to lose (is tough) – that’s my loss.”
The press then asked for more clarification as to what tactical mistake Savinova made. Savinova said, “Well probably I just didn’t believe that Eunice at this speed can run up and finish. We all make tactical mistakes. Our running is purely tactical. You can be really prepared and lose. You can be at he peak of your speed and abilities, but you can lose because of a wrong tactical move. In the finish, I was to run fast as fast as I could but I don’t know what happened in my head.”
To be truthful, we don’t really think Savinova made a tactical mistake. Sum was the only one somewhat close to Montano early on. At 400, Montaño’s split was 56.12, Sum was 57.16 and Savinova was 57.85. But by 600, Savinova was right on Sum’s heels and she followed her for the next 170 meters before Sum simply pulled away from her late. Savinova was exactly where she wanted to be with 50 meters go. Sum just beat her over the final 50.
Savinova was likely just stunned to have lost in front of the Russian fans and looking for an explanation.
We asked her why she hadn’t run real fast in a race this year and she said, “Usually I pickup my confidence from my training. For the last three weeks. I’ve very confident in my training as the speed I’ve run was very close to my personal records.”
QT #7: LaShawn Merritt is a big Martinez fan – he even snuck into the press conference and asked her a question.
6:20 into the post-race press conference video you can watch Merritt, who shares an agent with Martinez, ask Martinez a question. Afterwards, we asked Merritt what his connection was to Martinez and he said the they have the same agent (Kim Holland) and that he likes her guts/toughness.
QT #8: Montano Let Martinez Sneak By on the Inside
Montano really lost it [hysically the final 50 and it cost her the gold. However, if she had not drifted out into lane 2 she would have still left with the bronze. This race was similar to the men’s 1500m where the leader into the homestretch drifted wide and let the bronze medalist nip them at the line. NEVER get passed on the inside is something all runners need to get into their heads.
|1||Eunice Jepkoech SUM||KEN||1:57.38||PB|
|4||Alysia JOHNSON MONTANO||USA||1:57.95|
|400m||Alysia JOHNSON MONTANO||USA||56.06|
Get all of our Women’s 800m coverage in our Women’s 800m Worlds Special Page.