The 1:41 Club is Back: Nijel Amos Runs 1:41.89 in Monaco

July 12, 2019

No human being had run 1:41 for 800m since Nijel Amos ran 1:41.73 for second place in the greatest 800m race ever at the 2012 Olympics, where David Rudisha ran 1:40.91 for the world record and gold medal.

Until Nijel Amos did it Friday night in Monaco.

Amos of Botswana ran behind Oregon Track Club teammate Harun Abda, who was the rabbit, through a quick opening 400 of 48.70. Abda, doing an excellent job of pacemaking, continued to lead around the turn before stepping into lane 2 before the end of the turn to let Amos by because Amos was flying.

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Amos led down the backstretch with Ferguson Rotich of Kenya trying to stay close. Once Amos hit 600 in 1:15.22 and began to further pull away from Rotich, with Rotich pulling away from the rest of the field, it was clear the final 100m Amos was chasing history.

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He flailed his arms with his distinctive style during the final stretch, and when he crossed the line, the time of 1:41.89 flashed on the scoreboard. Once Amos saw it, he threw both his arms up in celebration. His competitors then joined him in celebrating his greatness as only five men have ever broken 1:42 in history. Amos’ time was short of his PR of 1:41.73, but it was a monumental run.

Rotich was rewarded with a PB in second of 1:42.54, and everyone else in the field except last placer Jonathan Kitilit set a seasonal best or personal best, including a Puerto Rican national record of 1:44.40 by Wesley Vazquez in 6th.

800 Metres - Men  - Diamond Discipline
    1 Amos , Nijel                     BOT    1:41.89          8
    2 Rotich , Ferguson Cheruiyot      KEN    1:42.54          7
    3 Tuka , Amel                      BIH    1:43.62          6
    4 Saruni , Michael                 KEN    1:43.70          5
    5 McBride , Brandon                CAN    1:43.83          4
    6 Vázquez , Wesley                 PUR    1:44.40          3
    7 Kszczot , Adam                   POL    1:44.69          2
    8 Wightman , Jake                  GBR    1:45.08          1
    9 Bosse , Pierre-Ambroise          FRA    1:45.43           
   10 Kitilit , Jonathan               KEN    1:45.78           
      Abda , Harun                     USA        DNF
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QT: Amos is BAAACK

Amos was only 18 when he ran 1:41 back in 2012. The fact it took him seven years to go sub-1:42 again is a testament to how hard it is to run 1:41, and to the talent and perseverance of Amos.

Amos, after only running 1:44.66 in 2016, joined Mark Rowland and the Oregon Track Club and had been showing glimpses of his 2012 self (1:43.18 best in 2017, 1:42.14 in 2018). Today’s run shows he’s fully back.

Year World Leader Time
2019 Nijel Amos 1:41.89
2018 Emmanuel Korir 1:42.05
2017 Emmanuel Korir 1:42.10
2016 David Rudisha 1:42.15
2015 Amel Tuka 1:42.51
2014 Nijel Amos 1:42.45
2013 Mo Aman 1:42.37
2012 David Rudisha 1:40.91

QT: Don’t hand Amos the gold medal (or any medal) just yet

Amos has now won four of his five 800 races in 2019, including three Diamond Leagues. Right now, he’s definitely the favorite for Worlds. But major championships have proved a struggle for Amos since the 2012 Olympics. He was the favorite at Worlds in 2015 and co-favorite in 2017, yet he bombed out in the semis in 2015 and was just 5th in 2017, even after co-favorite Emmanuel Korir failed to make the final. He didn’t even make it to Worlds in 2013 and went out in the first round at the 2016 Olympics.

Because it’s only two laps, any tactical mistake in the 800 is huge, and with three rounds at a major championship, there are plenty of opportunities to screw up. One way to prevent that is to simply run away from everyone else, as Rudisha did in his prime. It’s not an option available to most runners, but since he just ran 1:41, Amos may want to consider that tactic in Doha.

Talk about Amos’ race on our world famous messageboard / fan forum: Nijel Amos 1:41.89! 

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