Men’s 800: What a race: David Rudisha looks for revenge against Nijel Amos and Mo Aman + Duane Solomon

July 16, 2014

In May, we geeked out about the ridiculous men’s 800 field assembled at the Pre Classic and were rewarded with a thrilling race that saw Mo Aman and David Rudisha take off with 200 to go only to run out of gas as Nijel Amos stormed to victory in the home straight. We hope you’re ready for the rematch because eight of the ten men from a Pre field worthy of an Olympic final will return to race at the Herculis Monaco Diamond League meet on Friday night at Stade Louis II.

Brandon Johnson and Adam Kszczot are out and Kenyan champ Ferguson Cheruiyot is in, but apart from that, the field is the same. And what a field it is (the full field appears at the bottom of this article). Here’s what the nine men who will toe the line in Monaco have accomplished collectively:

34 Diamond League wins

2 World Championship golds

1 Olympic gold

1 World Championship silver

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1 Olympic silver

4 World Indoor golds

3 world records

Finally, Monaco boasts the 1st- (Rudisha), 3rd- (Amos), 6th- (Abubaker Kaki) and 9th-fastest (Aman) men of all time. That is one loaded field. And to think, the 800 isn’t even an official DL event at Monaco!

Rudisha’s biggest test yet

What we’re most excited for is the chance to see Rudisha take on Aman and Amos, his rivals for the title of world’s best 800 runner (you could probably throw world leader Asbel Kiprop, who just beat Amos in Paris, in that discussion as well, but he’ll be racing the 1500 in Monaco). When Rudisha raced them last, on May 31 at Pre, it was his first race in over a year and he didn’t have anything over the last 100 meters, fading to seventh as Amos and Aman went 1-2. Seven weeks have passed since that race, and in that span Rudisha has looked more and more like the unbeatable force of nature he was from 2010 to his injury in May 2013.

Rudisha looked good in winning the adidas Grand Prix in New York on June 14, but his 1:44.63 winning time and .40-second margin of victory weren’t dominant. Rudisha rested for another four weeks, and by the time he reappeared in Glasgow last weekend, he very much resembled the Rudisha of old. He opened up a huge gap on the field during the second lap of the race and powered home for a 2.31-second win in 1:43.34, tying him with Asbel Kiprop for the fastest time in the world this year.

Amos beat Aman and Rudisha at Pre; who will win the rematch in Monaco? Amos beat Aman and Rudisha at Pre; who will win the rematch in Monaco?

The question now is whether Rudisha can do the same against a much better field. It’s not that Rudisha was beating chumps in New York or Glasgow, but neither of those races featured Aman or Amos, who have been the men to beat on the circuit this year. Aman and Amos have raced a total of six times at DL meets this year and neither has finished lower than second in any race (that includes two races, Doha and Pre, where they went 1-2).

As good as those two have been on the circuit this year, we think that Rudisha has now reached the point where he is able to run away from anyone in the world. Back when he was winning world titles, Rudisha would get to the front early and run a pace that nobody else could match. He tried to do that at Pre but he wasn’t fit enough to hold it for the entire 800 meters. He did a better job of it in New York and then set a world leader in Glasgow last week. That’s bad news for the rest of the world. Rudisha is only going to get better the rest of the season and if he ran 1:43.34 to win by 2.31 seconds last time, that means that a 1:42 clocking isn’t far away.

We won’t entirely discount Aman and Amos — after all, they are two of the fastest nine men of all time and are both just 20 years old — but Rudisha is capable of reaching a higher level than anyone else in history. It will take an outstanding effort to beat him in Monaco.

Aman hasn’t raced since June 8th so it will be interesting to see how he does here.

As for Amos, he didn’t look good last week in the 400 in Glasgow. After missing last year, it’s possible Amos may have come back without the base he needed and will need to wait to next year to really see his old form.

Solomon’s last shot for a month

The Diamond League will go on a month-long break after Monaco for the Commonwealth Games and European Championships, resuming on August 21 in Stockholm. Solomon told us after USAs that he’s looking to use the break to build his strength before returning to Europe and hopefully threatening Johnny Gray‘s American record of 1:42.60. It’s unlikely Solomon will challenge that mark in Monaco, but he’s looked great his last two times out, winning USAs by 1.47 seconds (though a fall behind him broke up the field) and soloing a 1:44.92 to win by 3.23 seconds in Edmonton on July 6. If Solomon can get under 1:44 here (he hasn’t managed that since April 19 at Mt. SAC), that’s a great sign that he could be ready to challenge the American record when the Diamond League resumes next month.

We imagine if Solomon does get the AR, it will come in a race with Rudisha running from the front so pay attention to this one.

LRC Prediction: Rudisha wins in 1:42, Aman second, Solomon third in an SB.

What do you think? Discuss this race in our forum: Monaco DL: DREAM FIELDS AT 800,m 1500m, AND 5000m.

pdate: Apparently the start list below has been changed as we received the following email:

Your prevue is working off an old starting list. Alex (Alexander) Rowe (22) from Australia Uhas been added to the filed.
He ran 1:44.74 in Oordegem (BEL) on July the 5th, beating Leo Manzano by over 1.5sec and has won his last three starts in Europe.
He will be attempting to break the Australian nation record of 1:44.40 which was set by Ralph Doubell when he won the 1968 Olympics (46 years ago).
I imagine he is the only athlete running in Monaco that doesn’t have a shoe contract!!
Justin (Alex’s coach)
– JRinaldi on the message boards. 

Go here for the latest start lists.

Full Field For Men’s 800 (2:15 p.m. ET)

AMAN Mohammed 10.01.1994 ETH 1:42.37 1:43.99 Indoor/Outdoor world champ won earlier this year in Doha, Rome; no races since 2:16 1000 in Ostrava on 6/17
AMOS Nijel 15.03.1994 BOT 1:41.73 1:43.63 2012 Olympic silver medalist was 2nd in Paris; 46.34 400 in Glasgow last week
BOSSE Pierre-Ambroise 11.05.1992 FRA 1:43.76 1:44.23 Won French champs last week; 4th in Paris on July 5
CHERUIYOT Ferguson Rotich 30.11.1989 KEN 1:43.22 1:44.30 Kenyan champ was 5th in Paris
KAKI Abubaker 21.06.1989 SUD 1:42.23 1:44.09 Had been running well in ’14 until 1:48 DFL in Paris
LEWANDOWSKI Marcin 13.06.1987 POL 1:43.79 1:44.49 4th at last 2 WCs; 7th in Paris
OSAGIE Andrew 19.02.1988 GBR 1:43.77 1:45.37 World Indoor bronze + 5th at Worlds in ’13, but just 3rd at UK champs
RUDISHA David 17.12.1988 KEN 1:40.91 1:43.34 Looked like the old Rudisha in Glasgow last week, winning by 2.31 secs
SOLOMON Duane 28.12.1984 USA 1:42.82 1:43.88 U.S. champ won in Edmonton July 6; 3rd in NY DL on June 14
TANGUI Sammy 16.09.1984 KEN 1:49.39 Rudisha’s personal rabbit


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