USA’s Mikey Brannigan Dominates 1500m at Paralympic Games

Brannigan ran like the boss in the Paralympic T20 1500.

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September 13, 2016

19-year-old Mikey Brannigan of the United States controlled the T20* men’s 1500m race today at the 2016 Paralympics and then destroyed the field with a 55.89 final lap to win the gold in 3:51.73. Peyman Nasiri Bazanjani, the defending Paralympic champion, let up just before the line and that let a late closing Daniel Pek of Poland pass him for the silver. Pek and Nasiri, while they didn’t get the gold, did get continental records for their events.

However, this race was all about the brilliant display of front running by Brannigan.

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Brannigan, the 3:57 miler with autism, went to the front on the first lap, but kept the pace modest (66.1). He ratcheted things down a little the second lap, running 63.1. Then he upped the ante on the third lap (61.07), really accelerating once he hit the bell. Coming around the turn after the bell, three runners were still in contention (Steve Morris of Great Britain, Pavlo Voluikevych of Ukraine and Nasiri Bazanjani) behind Brannigan.

Mikey Brannigan 2016 Paralympic T20 Champ

Mikey Brannigan 2016 Paralympic T20 Champ

Brannigan flew down the backstretch and Morris tried to stay with him and would soon pay the price, fading to a 6th-place finish. With 200m to go, Brannigan had 8 to 10 meters on Nasiri Banzanjani who was now in second. The race was Brannigan’s to lose, but all he did the final 200m was dominate. He powered home across the line and threw up his arms celebrating the Paralympic gold.

1 BRANNIGAN Michael USA  3:51.73
2 PEK Daniel POL 3:56.17 AR
4 KORC Rafal  POL 3:56.54  PB
5 VOLUIKEVYCH Pavlo UKR 3:58.18 PB
6 MORRIS Steve GBR 3:58.69
7 PEREIRA Cristiano POR 3:59.92
8 PAIVA Luis Arturo VEN 4:11.20 SB
9  HERSI Mohamed DEN 4:11.41
T20 Classification=(“Intellectual impairment”)

QT #1: Brannigan Did What He Should Have Done, Front Run and Dominate

Brannigan ran a 3:57.58 full mile at the Sir Walter Miler last month. The guys who got silver and bronze behind him today set area records for 1500m by running 3:56.17 and 3:56.24. So he was coming in being roughly 17 seconds better than anyone in the field. Last year at the IPC World Championships in Doha Brannigan only won by .03 of a second. Today he ran like the heavy favorite runner and controlled the pace. Asbel Kiprop might want to call him for some tactical advice.

Brannigan at the start

Brannigan at the start

QT#2: Brannigan is Only 19 Years Old and Super Talented – Could He Eventually Make the Olympics?

Jason Gay in the Wall Street Journal had a good read on Brannigan today that talks about Brannigan’s family, his coach Sonja Robinson, his support from the NYAC, his autism, and how he wants to one day compete at the Olympics. We hadn’t even thought that far out, because until last month’s 3:57.58 mile Brannigan was just a really good high school runner and high school stars are normally a long way from making the Olympics. At the very least we know one thing, Brannigan should get a big shoe sponsorship now. His story is super inspiring and he is very good.

Drew Hunter, the high school phenom who ran 3:57.18 for the mile this year and skipped college to sign a pro deal with adidas has only run .40 faster than Brannigan in the mile and is only 11 months younger than Brannigan. We’re not saying Brannigan is at Hunter’s level yet (less success at longer distances and shorter distances), but Brannigan has made a big jump this year under his new NYAC setup.

It’s kind of pointless to talk about whether Hunter or Brannigan make the Olympics at this point. But they are both definitely talented enough to aspire to it.

Brannigan on backstretch of final lap

Brannigan on backstretch of final lap

Brannigan at Finish

Brannigan at Finish

Talk about this race on our world famous fan forum / messageboard: MB: Michael Brannigan T20 1500m Gold 3:51.7 with a 55 last lap! 

*According to Wikipedia, T20 is a classification for athletes with an Intellectual Disability for which the primary eligibility criteria is determined by:

  • An IQ score at or below 75 (when IQ 100 is the score of the average person)
  • Significant limitations in adaptive behaviour (conceptual, social or practical adaptive skills) [Examples may include: communication, self care, social skills, home living, health and safety]
  • Onset acquired before the age of 18