Mens 800 Semis: Amos and Aman go home early, David Rudisha most certainly stays and the amazing year of Clayton Murphy comes to an end

August 23, 2015

BEIJING – The men’s 800 semifinals (three heats) were held tonight and there were two huge developments, neither 2014 World #1  Nijel Amos nor 2013 World Champion Mo Aman will be in the final. The semifinals of the 800 are the most brutal qualifying rounds in the sport in our opinion, with 3 races and the top two finishers only automatically qualifying for the final and today’s results showed it.

We have three quick thoughts about the races and talk in more detail about Amos and Aman going out.  The results appear at the bottom of the article.

1) The men’s 800 final just got a lot less interesting – Nijel Amos and Mo Aman both go home early

Every since the amazing 2012 London 800 final where a 23-year old David Rudisha broke 1:41 to win gold and three teenagers ran 1:43.20 or faster, we’ve been waiting to see all of the young stars battle again at the top of their games.

We didn’t get a rematch in 2013 because Rudisha and silver medallist Nijel Amos both didn’t compete as they were injured. In 2014, there was no worlds. Now, we’ll have to wait another year as neither reigning World champ Mo Aman nor 2012 silver medallist Nijel Amos made the final – in differing fashions.

Amos simply didn’t get it done. It’s not like Amos ran horribly. He was only .26 behind the great David Rudisha but he leaned a little too early and was beaten by Qatari national record holder Abdulrahman Musaeb (1:43.82 pb) by .03.

Aman, on the other hand, looked like he was by far the best guy in heat #1 but was DQd. While Aman looked the best of everyone in heat one, he only initially (before the DQ) finished third in his heat after losing a ton of momentum after running into Thijmen Kupers of the Netherlands with a little less than 200 meters to go. Both Aman and Kupers lost a ton of ground after the contact but Aman turned on the jets and ended up finishing third in 1:45.01 – a time that would have advanced him to the final – if not for the DQ.

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Amos Makes Contact Amos Makes Contact

What Aman did was technically a foul. He was coming up on the inside and didn’t want to go wide on the turn. Kupers held his ground and Aman ran into him from behind. If we were the officials, we’re wouldn’t DQ Aman. Yes, it’s a slippery slope if one starts considering the impact a foul has – but it happens all the time in other sports. If a ball is uncatchable in the NFL, pass interference isn’t called. What Aman did was not intentional and he was not running recklessly.

If a foul in track occurs that doesn’t stop anyone from qualifying but the person who committed the foul (in this case Aman), should it be called? We’d say no and think that’s what happened here as Kupers ended up 7th in the heat, but will admit if Kupers was a bigger name, we’d might be more upset. But if the IAAF isn’t going to place Kupers in the final (which we have not seen indication of) then what’s the point of DQing Aman? Either pick up the flag and let the results stand or put the guy who was fouled (Kupers) in the final. Don’t DQ Aman and then let Morocco’s Nader Belhanbel who had nothing to do with the foul (he was in heat 3) advance to the final.

Another way to think of this is like this, if David Rudisha was the person making the foul, do you think he’d have been DQd? We do not.

2) David Rudisha looked great – might he actually be the favorite now?

Rudisha came in as a vulnerable world-record holder with no room to spare in his heat vs last year’s world #1, but now two of his biggest rivals aren’t even going to be in the final. Today’s semifinal win certainly doesn’t mean it’s time to hand Rudisha the gold as the man who beat Rudisha at the Kenyan Trials, Ferguson Cheruiyot, ran right with the world leader Amel Tuka in heat #3 as the two put up the fastest times on the night (1:44.84 and 1:44.85).

But then again, Cheruiyot has only broken 1:44 four times in his career and Tuka is inexperienced at this level and admitted to us that he doesn’t have much experience with rounds. The men’s 100 final tonight showed us it’s a dangerous thing to discount the greatest person ever in an event when they are coming back into form.

3) Clayton Murphy’s Amazing 2015 Comes To An End

Murphy, who just left his teenage years behind by turning 20 in February, started the year with a 1:50.03 pb and ended it with a 1:45.59 pb. That’s what we call a GREAT year. Yes, his 1500 pb was better than his 800 as a freshman at Akron (3:44) but no one could have seen this coming.

Well maybe no one but Murphy. After the race, we asked Murphy what his goals were for 2015 at the beginning of the season. He said his first goal was to make NCAAs indoors in the 800 or mile. Once he did that, he said his big goal became to make the US final outdoors, but all along below those goals he had typed World Championship in italics.

Murphy’s breakout year this year reminds us of the breakout year that Andrew Wheating had at age 20 in 2008. At age 19, Wheating ran 1:50.17 and at age 20, he ran 1:45.03 – very similar to Murphy’s improvement this year.

800 PRs at Age 20

Robby Andrews –  1:44.71
Andrew Wheating – 1:45.03
Clayton Murphy – 1:45.59
Duane Solomon – 1:47.84
Nick Symmonds – 1:49.51

Wheating and Andrews are both now known as 1500 runner.s It’s quite possible that’s where Murphy will make his mark down the road as well especially since Murphy was running 5ks last year.

Post-race interview with Murphy, Erik Sowinski (who didn’t advance tonight), and Amel Tuka appear below.

Erik Sowinski

Amel Tuka


Heat 1

1 797 Adam KSZCZOT POLPOL 1:44.97 Q
2 685 Alfred KIPKETER KENKEN 1:44.99 Q
3 490 Pierre-Ambroise BOSSE FRAFRA 1:45.02 q
4 438 Kevin LÓPEZ ESPESP 1:45.84
5 734 Amine EL MANAOUI MARMAR 1:46.09
6 1048 Clayton MURPHY USAUSA 1:46.28
7 762 Thijmen KUPERS NEDNED 1:47.74
458 Mohammed AMAN ETHETH DQ R163.2

Heat 2

1 702 David Lekuta RUDISHA KENKEN 1:47.70 Q
2 825 Musaeb Abdulrahman BALLA QATQAT 1:47.93 Q
3 241 Nijel AMOS BOTBOT 1:47.96
4 887 Konstantin TOLOKONNIKOV RUSRUS 1:48.32
5 290 Abraham Kipchirchir ROTICH BRNBRN 1:48.61
6 713 Ali AL-DERAAN KSAKSA 1:48.71
7 212 Antoine GAKEME BDIBDI 1:48.86

Heat 3

1 234 Amel TUKA BIHBIH 1:44.84 Q
2 701 Ferguson Cheruiyot ROTICH KENKEN 1:44.85 Q
3 730 Nader BELHANBEL MARMAR 1:45.28 q
4 799 Marcin LEWANDOWSKI POLPOL 1:45.34
5 600 Mark ENGLISH IRLIRL 1:45.55
6 360 Rafith RODRÍGUEZ COLCOL 1:45.63
7 1058 Erik SOWINSKI USAUSA 1:47.16
8 475 Jena UMAR ETHETH 1:48.68


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