May 30, 2015
The men’s and women’s 800 races at the 2015 Prefontaine Classic came down to epic duels with the victories going to reigning world champion Mo Aman over Olympic silver medalist Nijel Amos in 1:44.92 and world champion Eunice Sum over US champion Ajee Wilson in 1:57.82.
Men’s 800: Mo Aman And Nijel Amos Battle And Show Why They’re Still David Rudisha’s Biggest Competition In 2015
The Race (Video replay here)
Once again, the runners were reluctant to follow the rabbit as Harun Abda took the race out in 51.61, but no one went with him. Behind Abda there was a sizable gap to Poland’s Adam Kszczot who lead the chase pack. Aman, Amos and Makhloufi sat right behind Kszczot.
As they approached 200 to go Amos got himself in a bit of trouble as he was on the rail and boxed in when Makhloufi went by on his outside. Amos had to wait a little longer to make a move to go after Aman. Amos also had to go a bit wider and run the final curve almost in lane 2. In the end this probably cost him the win as he challenged Aman up until the final meters, but wasn’t able to get by. Makhloufi made a late surge and almost caught the other two, but it was too little too late.
Behind the top three Kszczot fell back to 8th and Kenya’s Alfred Kipketer took 4th (1:45.69). Charles Jock was in dead last at the bell and moved up to finish 6th (1:46.08).
1 Aman , Mohammed ETH 1:44.92 2 Amos , Nijel BOT 1:45.06 3 Makhloufi , Taoufik ALG 1:45.17 4 Kipketer , Alfred KEN 1:45.69 5 Kinyor , Job Koech KEN 1:45.87 6 Jock , Charles USA 1:46.08 7 Olivier , André RSA 1:46.10 8 Kszczot , Adam POL 1:46.14 9 Rotich , Ferguson Cheruiyot KEN 1:46.72 Abda , Harun USA DNF
Quick Thought #1: A Great Rivalry Continues Between Aman And Amos
Last year these two men raced each other six times with Amos winning all but one of the contests (Aman was runner-up to Amos three times). At this meet last year Amos ran 1:43.63 to beat Aman by .30-seconds. This year Aman got the narrow .14 win. Assuming David Rudisha gets healthy, the 2015 World Championships should be a very interesting match-up between Rudisha, Aman and Amos. Rudisha was unbeatable back in 2012, Aman took over as world champion when Rudisha and Amos were injured in 2013 and Amos was the undeniable #1 in 2014. Who will come out on top in 2015?
Quick Thought #2: Tactics Cost Amos
Just like Sifan Hassan in the women’s 1500, Nijel Amos found himself right where you don’t want to be with 200m to go in a crowded race: on the rail behind the leader(s). If you’re not leading at this point you don’t want to be right on the rail because you’ll be boxed in when people come up from behind you. Instead, position yourself on the leader’s right shoulder as Jenny Simpson did in the women’s 1500.
Quick Thought #3: A Underwhelming Day For Charles Jock
Last week at the Ponce Grand Prix in Puerto Rico, Jock got an encouraging win running 1:45.40 which was his fastest time since 2013. Here he followed that up with a sixth place finish in 1:46.08. Not the worst result for him considering it’d still be his second fastest result in all of 2014. Still, considering he ran fast winning last week you’d hope to see him do more here than be in dead last at the bell.
Quick Thought #3: No Symmonds, No Solomon
Duane Solomon and Nick Symmonds have dominated US 800m of late and neither one was here. We missed them both.
*MB: Nick Symmonds BLACKBALLED from Pre Classic 800
Women’s 800: A Nail Biter Ends With World Champion Eunice Sum Just Holding Off Ajee Wilson At The Line By .05
World champion Eunice Sum and 2015 World #2 Ajee Wilson put on a show here battling side by side for the final stretch before Sum edged Wilson for the win with American world champs bronze medallist Brenda Martinez third.
The Race (video here)
The rabbit went out in 56.42 with Montano following behind her. Montano led onto the backstretch, but started struggling heavily. With 300m to go Brenda Martinez made a big move to take the lead and was followed by Sum and Wilson as they hit the 600m mark in about 1:28.0.
That was the order coming off the final bend when Sum went by Martinez and soon so did Wilson as Sum and Wilson would battle the final straight side by side until the finish. Wilson did briefly move into first, but in the end Sum was able to pass her back and nip Wilson by .05-seconds to win in 1:57.82. Martinez ran a strong race for 3rd in 1:59.06. Sweden’s world 1500 champion Abeba Aregawi was 4th (1:59.98) and World Indoor champion Price faded from 4th to 6th (2:00.19) in the final 100m.
1 Sum , Eunice Jepkoech KEN 1:57.82 4 2 Wilson , Ajee USA 1:57.87 2 3 Martinez , Brenda USA 1:59.06 1 4 Aregawi , Abeba SWE 1:59.98 5 Busienei , Janeth Jepkosgei KEN 2:00.02 6 Price , Chanelle USA 2:00.19 7 Sharp , Lynsey GBR 2:00.61 8 Arzamasova , Marina BLR 2:02.49 9 Poistogova , Ekaterina RUS 2:02.77 10 Johnson Montano , Alysia USA 2:03.72 McDonald , Kimarra JAM DNF
Quick Thought #1: What a Race!
Wilson and Sum battled side by side nearly the entire final 100m. This one was extremely tight with the two superstars putting on a show. Sum and Wilson are the favorites for gold in Beijing later this summer and very little separated them today.
QT #2: Ajee Wilson Keeps Improving
Wilson turned 21 earlier this month and someone should buy her a drink. She keeps getting better and better. This was just off her 1:57.67 pr from last year and it’s only May. Wilson has shown throughout her career she can run well when it counts (PR for World Championship junior gold in 2012, PR in Worlds final in 2013) late in the season and if that happens this year she may have a gold medal around her neck.
Wilson has stuck with her club coach Derek Thompson and her situation is far from traditional as the best 800m runner in her group is a 1:56 high school boy, but she and coach Thompson have it working very well.
QT #3: Don’t Forget About Brenda Martinez
The Worlds bronze medallist faded at the end here the last 100m, but the 1:59.06 clocking showed she’s still a global force. She’s very good at the 1500 as well as the 800, having ran a 4:00.94 PR and 4:01.36 SB last year. However, given the depth of US women’s distance running at 1500, the 800 seems to be more of a sure thing. That said, she’s regularly races up to 5000m and has spoke about eventually doing the marathon, so she isn’t afraid of the longer distances.
QT#4: Don’t write off mom Alysia Montano
Montano made news for running USAs 8 months pregnant last year, so it is impressive she was back in the Pre field so soon after childbirth. Now running for Asics and the NYAC, Alysia was aggressive here before fading badly at the end. Montano had already run 2:01.78 earlier this year and said this was far from indicative of her fitness. She had a setback with a hip problem in training the last ten days but was optimistic about things. Making the US team will be extremely difficult with Wilson and Martinez in the mix, but Montano can not be overlooked yet.
QT#5: Russia’s Olympic Bronze And Alleged Doper Ekaterina Poistogova Still Racing
Ekaterina Poistogova was among those accused of doping in the German documentary that broke the Russian doping scandal back in December. While Olympic champion Mariya Savinova hasn’t ran a race since 2013, Poistogova continues to toe the line (and amazingly, meets still invite her). Here she was 9th in 2:02.77. She has a PR of 1:57.53, but in six races in 2015 has only managed 2:01.44. Maybe she’s finally racing clean?