August 29, 2019
American Donavan Brazier got the most impressive win of his career by coming from behind to run a 1:42.70 PR and win the 2019 Diamond League final at the Weltklasse Zürich meet. Only Johnny Gray (1:42.60) has run faster amongst Americans.
Brazier put on a textbook display of tactical running as he was 8th at 400m and still just 6th at 600m before storming from behind to get the $50,000 win and the big PR (previous PR of 1:43.55 to win the NCAAs in 2016).
The Race (video below)
The big question heading into the men’s 800 was how would world leader Nijel Amos, the 4th-fastest man in history, look in his first race since pulling up lame on July 20 in London. Amos looked no worse for wear as he was full of run — too full of run, as it turned out. Running directly behind Nike Oregon Track Club teammate and pacer Harun Abda, Amos went out super quick, 48.4 for 400 (48.23 for Abda) and 1:14.43 for 600.
Behind Amos the field was totally spread out with Emmanuel Korir of Kenya the only one daring to keep it somewhat close (48.8 for 400 and 1:15.2). Coming off the final turn, it was clear that Korir was starting to tie up (he’d only manage a 28.5 final 200 and end up fourth in 1:43.69); the problem for Amos was he soon started to tie up as well. And he would tie up big-time in the final 50 meters.
That created an opportunity for someone running a well-measured race behind them, and the beneficiary was US champ Brazier. Brazier was way back for the first 600 of this race, but he was running fast (50.8 for 400, which put him in 8th place, and 1:17.0 at 600, which put him in 6th) and he had the best close of anyone, by far.
Sensing blood in the water, Brazier closed in a remarkable 25.7 to grab the win and PB in 1:42.70 as Amos was second in 1:42.98 after a 28.5 final 200. In the process, Brazier catapulted up from #10 to #2 all-time on the US list as Johnny Gray‘s US record of 1:42.60, which turned 34 years old yesterday, lived to see another day. The other American in the race, Clayton Murphy, ended up 5th in a seasonal best of 1:43.94. He was just ahead of Murphy at 400.
800 Metres - Men - Diamond Discipline 1 Brazier , Donavan USA 1:42.70 2 Amos , Nijel BOT 1:42.98 3 McBride , Brandon CAN 1:43.51 4 Korir , Emmanuel Kipkurui KEN 1:43.69 5 Murphy , Clayton USA 1:43.94 6 Tuka , Amel BIH 1:43.99 7 Rotich , Ferguson Cheruiyot KEN 1:45.28 8 Kinyamal , Wyclife KEN 1:47.59 Abda , Harun USA DNF
Quick Take: A very smart run for Brazier
Brazier listened to his body, measured everything to near-perfection, and got a $50,000 win. If you tuned in the race at 200m, Brazier looked out of it. At 600m, he was still in 6th. Yet he cruised to the win and a PR. Superb tactical running and sense of pace.
As for Amos, the pace was just too much. However, we won’t say the pace was idiotic for him. Considering he hadn’t raced in over a month, we doubt he was intending on going for the world record and the projected pace for Abda was 49.0, not 48.23. Amos’ mindset was probably just to follow Abda, but the pace was too hot.
That being said, Amos has run 1:41 twice in his life, and in both instances he went out slower. In Monaco, when Amos ran 1:41.89, he hit 400 in 48.9 (remember, he split 48.4 today) and his 600 split was 1:15.22 (versus 1:14.43 tonight). Amos was still faster tonight (1:28.0) with 100m to go than he was in Monaco (1:28.4). But he paid the price the last 100m.
When Amos ran his PR at the Olympics, Rudisha led the way at 49.28 (and Amos was only in 4th), proof that you don’t need to go sub-49 the first 400 to run super fast.
While Amos was beaten tonight, we think he looked healthy enough to be considered at least a co-favorite for Worlds. As for how he was feeling after the race, we had to laugh when we saw this in the flash quotes: “He did not feel well after the race and could not give an interview.”
Quick Take: Thanks to Brazier’s win, the US will now be sending a 4th guy (who just ran 1:48 in Europe) to Worlds
Amos’ overly ambitious pace ended up being a big boon to American Brannon Kidder.
Kidder, who was only 6th at USAs, will now be going to Worlds as the US will now get four entrants in the event thanks to Brazier’s win. And per USATF’s nonsensical selection policies, Kidder is on the team and not 2018 NCAA champ Isaiah Harris, who was 4th at USAs.
Kidder is going because he had the 1:45.80 qualifying standard when the US Trials were held last month and USATF stupidly awards its fourth spot to the highest-placing athlete with the standard at the time. Neither Harris nor 5th placer Isaiah Jewett of USC had it on July 28.
So even though Harris has since gone to Europe and run well — just two days ago, he ran a seasonal best for third of 1:45.55 in Rovereto — he will not be going to Worlds and Kidder will — even though Kidder ran just 1:48.14 in Brussels last Friday. Meanwhile, Harris gets punished for being injured early in the year, which is why he wasn’t able to get the standard before USAs.
The reality is USATF should do whatever it can to honor the order of finish at USAs. Period.
Quick Take: Brazier is ready for Worlds
It’s hard to believe that the last time Brazier PR’d was at the 2016 NCAA meet as a freshman and then in his next race went out and laid an egg in the first round of the Olympic Trials. He ran like the consummate pro today.
More Zurich: Zurich Weltklasse: Karsten Warholm and Rai Benjamin BOTH Go Sub 47, Joshua Cheptegei Steals 5000, Noah Lyles Over Gatlin Full recap of action of Diamond League final in Zurich.
Zurich Weltklasse Women’s Recap: Sifan Hassan Leads NOP 1-2, Sydney McLaughlin Defeats World Record Holder Dalilah Muhammad, Coburn Comes Up Short Full recap of the women’s action in Zurich.