David Rudisha and Mo Aman Lose as Nijel Amos Wins; Caleb Ndiku Outkicks Alamirew as the Americans Struggle

by David Monti of Race Results Weekly, Quick Thoughts and Interviews by LetsRun.com
May 31, 2014

Editor’s note: Below we recap the men’s 800 and 5,000 from the 2014 Nike Prefontaine Classic.

EUGENE, Ore. — David Rudisha made his comeback today at the 2014 Nike Prefontaine Classic in the 800m after a year away from racing.  The world record holder and London Olympic champion from Kenya ran a fearless race, following pacemaker Bram Som of Holland through the 600-meter split in 1:17.19.  But the last 200 meters were difficult for the adidas-sponsored athlete, who tied-up in the homestretch, fading from first to seventh.  Finishing in 1:44.87 –without any pain in his right knee– Rudisha got an honest read on his fitness.

“It was tough,” he told more than a dozen reporters jockeying for position in the mixed zone to hear the soft-spoken athlete.  He continued: “The race was good.  In the beginning I started pushing, but only in the last 100 I felt it was a little bit tough.”

800 Metres – Men
1 Amos , Nijel BOT 1:43.63 4
2 Aman , Mohammed ETH 1:43.99 2
3 Kaki , Abubaker SUD 1:44.09 1
4 Bosse , Pierre-Ambroise FRA 1:44.44
5 Kszczot , Adam POL 1:44.65
6 Lewandowski , Marcin POL 1:44.79
7 Rudisha , David Lekuta KEN 1:44.87
8 Osagie , Andrew GBR 1:45.37
9 Kipketer , Alfred KEN 1:46.15
10 Solomon , Duane USA 1:47.40
Som , Bram NED DNF
Splits: 400m SOM, Bram (NED) 49.82
600m SOM, Bram (NED) 1:17.19

Ahead of Rudisha, Botswana’s Nijel Amos, the 2012 London Olympic silver medalist, powered ahead to a meet record and world-leading 1:43.63.  He narrowly defeated reigning world champion, Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia, 1:43.63 to 1:43.99.

“Actually, I’m so happy to see myself in my second race (at) 1:43,” Amos said, referring to his season-opening effort of 1:44.54 in Doha when he took second to Aman.  “It shows I’m in good shape to go back (to training) now.”

Quick Thought #1: Amos ran his own race.  

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Amos didn’t talk to the media for long after his race, but he was clear about one thing: he wasn’t going to let the presence of Rudisha or Aman prevent him from running his own race. Amos let those two battle each other with 200 to while he patiently bided his time. Amos unleashed his kick on the homestretch and no one had an answer for it. In the longer distances, you have to respond to every move or risk getting dropped. But because the 800 is so short, it’s more important to make sure your own move is a winning one than worry about countering the moves of others.

Quick Thought #2: Another fast one later this summer?

Amos said that he was happy Rudisha was back and that he hoped he would return to top form soon. Rudisha helped Amos become the #4 performer in history (1:41.74) by setting a world-record pace in the Olympic final two years ago. Amos said that if he got in a race down the road with a fully-fit Rudisha, there’s no telling how fast they could go.

Quick Thought #3: Rudisha will be better next time out in New York.

This was Rudisha’s first race in over a year, and while he looked strong through 600 meters, he faded in the homestretch, all the way to seventh. Rudisha said afterwards that he felt very good through 700 but that the last 100 was difficult. He added that the focus between now and New York on June 14 will be to gain strength so that he can be better over the last 100.

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He would almost certainly been at least top 3 in this one if he hadn’t suddenly accelerated on the back-stretch just before 600 to try to keep the lead from a challenge by Aman. The LetsRun.com mantra for the 800 is, ‘You’ve only got one move in an 800, use it wisely” and Rudisha and Aman foolishly used their moves 200 meters out.

Quick Thought #4: Mo Aman’s 13-race winning streak is over, but he was upbeat after the defeat.

He still ran 1:43.99, and was pleased that Pre was able to assemble such a quality field. He said that he thinks the 800 is one of the best events in track and field right now and that it’s good for the fans to see him race guys like David Rudisha.

Quick Thought #5: This was Duane Solomon’s first bad race of 2014.

Until this point, Solomon was 4-for-4 in winning individual 800s this year, including a then-world-leading 1:43.88 at Mt. SAC in April. He was trying for his coach Johnny Gray’s American record of 1:42.60, but he realized halfway through he wasn’t close enough to the lead and said he aborted that mission and focused on racing for the win.

Solomon, who is typically a front-runner, hoped to run right behind Rudisha in this one, but he found it difficult to get to the front. He tried to get up with the leaders on the back-stretch of the second lap, but said that he used a lot of energy in doing so, leaving him spent for the final 100. Solomon is running again in Rome on Thursday and said that he packed it in at the end to conserve energy for that race.

Personally, we thought talk of an American record in this race was just that – talk – once Solomon was kicked down by Poland’s Adam Kszczot at World Relays last week, particularly when Kszczot said he wasn’t in great shape.

Quick Thought #6: The successful return of Kaki.

Overshadowed by the return of Rudisha and the presence of other studs like Aman and Amos was the return of Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki, who raced for the first time since February 2013. Kaki ran very well, taking third behind Amos and Aman in 1:44.09. It’s easy to forget him considering all the talent in the men’s 800 at the moment, but Kaki is a two-time world indoor champ and was the silver medalist at worlds in 2011 behind Rudisha.

MB Talk: Major Rust Buster for David Rudisha ! Not bad really
*Amos is the real deal – takes down Rudisha AND Aman in 1:43.63!!

Men’s 5000: Caleb Ndiku Outkicks Yenew Alamirew As The Americans Struggle

Caleb Ndiku won a strategic men’s 5000m in a world-leading 13:01.71.  The reigning world indoor 3000m champion clocked a 54.7-second final lap to beat Ethiopia’s Yenew Alamirew (13:02.91) and defending Prefontaine champion Edwin Soi (13:04.92).  Two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat had an off day. Telling reporters that he felt “flat,” the 39-year-old was never a factor in the race and finished 14th in 13:31.23.

5000 Metres – Men –
1 Ndiku , Caleb Mwangangi KEN 13:01.71 4
2 Alamirew , Yenew ETH 13:02.91 2
3 Soi , Edwin Cheruiyot KEN 13:04.92 1
4 Rop , Albert Kibichii BRN 13:06.12
5 Koech , Isiah Kiplangat KEN 13:07.55
6 Kipkoech , John KEN 13:11.02
7 Gebrhiwet , Hagos ETH 13:13.19
8 Choge , Augustine Kiprono KEN 13:14.23
9 Derrick , Chris USA 13:15.55
10 Mead , Hassan USA 13:19.57
11 True , Ben USA 13:25.11
12 Birmingham , Collis AUS 13:27.17
13 Abadía , Antonio ESP 13:30.91
14 Lagat , Bernard USA 13:31.23
15 Barrios , Juan Luis MEX 13:43.12
16 Mecheso , Girma ETH 13:45.25
17 Hill , Ryan USA 13:57.12
Levins , Cameron CAN DNF
Fernandez , German USA DNF
Bumbalough , Andrew USA DNF
Gathimba , Gideon Mwangi KEN DNF

Quick Thought #1: Lagat wasn’t the only American to struggle in the men’s 5000 today as no one broke 13:15.

Chris Derrick was the top American in 9th in 13:15.55. Derrick thought the sunny, somewhat warm and windy conditions were tough to run it and jokingly wondered if Nike with all it’s money could somehow relocate Eugene to Stanford for the Pre Classic as the conditions for fast distance time are ideal in Palo Alto. Derrick thought the Americans got themselves in trouble by all putting themselves behind Lagat, who was in the middle of the pack early in the race, expecting the savvy, veteran Lagat to run well. Lagat had a rare awful race and when he faded the Americans had to fight to try to catch the lead pack.

Ben True, who was the top American halfway through the race (6:35 ish) but finished in 11th in 13:25.11,  said he didn’t feel good today and had been tired recently in his workouts and thought maybe he did too much heading into Payton Jordan where he ran 13:02. Moving forward, he said he’s hoping to get go for a sub-13:00 in the 5000 in Paris on July 5th. If he can get in that race, he’ll focus on it and skip USAs as the USA 5k is just 8 days before it.

QT #2: Ndiku and Alamirew were flying the last 200.

This was a four-man race at the bell but quickly it became a two-person affair on the back stretch. The last lap was roughly 54.3 for Ndiku with a 25.5 last 200.

Ndiku’s win today coupled with his indoor 3000 title shows he’s a force to be reckoned with. Earlier this week, on a post on LetsRun.com, Ndiku’s coach Renato Canova said Ndiku wasn’t in top shape yet.

“He’s not yet in top shape, but the real goal is to run under 13′ (if there is a good pace) and to be competitive for winning, against Alamirew (who seems the competitor more prepared), but also Gebrihwet (sic), Koech, a growing Soi and Lagat.

I’m curious to see his result. After Eugene, he has to go back immediately Kenya for running Trials for Commonwealth Games. The next top meeting will be in Ostrava, where the goal is to try to run under 7:30.0 in 3000m.”

Ndiku may not have broken 13:00, but the pace wasn’t hot. He’s clearly in a good spot and the 13:01.71 today was a PR for him as he ran 13:03.80 last year. Speaking of last year, at Pre, Edwin Soi won the 2013 Pre 5000 with a 53 last lap in 13:04.

MB: Mr. Canova: What are Caleb Ndiku’s Chances at Pre?


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