Boris Berian (1:44.20) Front-Runs His Way to Victory at Pre, Becomes Third* American Man to Win Diamond League 800

May 28, 2016

*Rest of Saturday recapped here

If World Indoor champ Boris Berian was distracted at all after being served a lawsuit by Nike last week, he didn’t show it. Berian ran a superb race to beat a solid field in 1:44.20 to earn his first-ever DL victory.

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Berian tried to get out into second behind rabbit Harun Abda during the first 200 meters, but Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich, who won in Shanghai two weeks ago, beat him to the punch. Instead, Berian merely waited until the home straight to move into the lead, and he passed 400 in front in 50.4 seconds with Rotich in second.

With 300 to go, 2013 world champ Mo Aman moved into second. Adam Kszczot, who was extremely impressive indoors, was toward the back of the field and had to drift out into lane three on the backstretch to start moving up.

Coming into the home stretch, Berian still led with Aman second; Kszczot, with great effort, had managed to move up into third. Berian remained a step or two ahead of Aman until the final 40 meters, when he began to open a gap, powerfully striding to victory in 1:44.20. Rotich, moved up well to pass Aman for second in the final meters but was never close to threatening Berian in the home straight. Kszczot, who had spent a lot of energy getting in position to kick at the end of the race, did not have anything left to challenge for the victory over the final 100.

1 BERIAN Boris USA 1:44.20
2 ROTICH Ferguson Cheruiyot KEN 1:44.56
3 AMAN Mohammed ETH 1:44.70
4 KSZCZOT Adam POL 1:44.99
5 KITUM Timothy KEN 1:45.30
6 TUKA Amel BIH 1:45.90
7 VÁZQUEZ Wesley PUR 1:46.04
8 WHEATING Andrew USA 1:48.09

Quick Take #1: This was a really good sign for Boris Berian, who joins Duane Solomon and Khadevis Robinson as the only American men to win a DL 800

Watching Berian defeat this field wasn’t entirely shocking; after all, he is the world indoor champion. But the 800 is a much different race indoors than it is outdoors, and to see Berian translate that success – especially after losing to collegian Clayton Murphy at the Drake Relays last month – was a terrific sign. He beat two of the three medallists from last year’s outdoor worlds (Kszczot and Amel Tuka) as well as Rotich, who won the first DL 800 of 2016 in Shanghai.

Not only did Berian win this race, but he did it mostly from the front. He measured his effort well and had a gear no one else could match over the final 40 meters. Remember, last year was Berian’s first running at an elite level and he didn’t even make the final at USAs. Running (and winning) against top-level competition like this is exactly what he needs to contend for a medal at this summer’s Olympics.

For the record, Berian was still wearing his New Balance Big Bear Track Club singlet in this race.

American men to win a Diamond League 800*
Boris Berian, 2016 Eugene
Duane Solomon, 2013 Monaco
Khadevis Robinson, 2011 Rome

*Nick Symmonds won in Zurich and London in 2013 but the 800 was not a Diamond Race event at either of those meets.

Post Race Interview with Berian where he talks about his Diamond Leage win, the tattoo he got last night, and how he will race a 400 and 600 before USAs.

Quick Take #2: Not a good day for Andy Wheating

Wheating was okay last week at Oxy (3:38.60 for 1500) but struggled with the shorter stuff today. He was never in the race and finished dead last in 1:48.09.

*Rest of Saturday recapped here