Men’s 800 Prelims: Nijel Amos is A DNS as All 4 Americans Advance

September 28, 2019

DOHA, Qatar — The biggest story from the men’s 800-meter prelims on day 2 of the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships came before a step had been run: Botswana’s Nijel Amos, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist and 2019 world leader, announced his withdrawal from the meet due to an Achilles injury. Entering Worlds, Amos looked to be co-favorite for gold with Diamond League champion Donavan Brazier of the United States. With his biggest rival for gold relegated to the sidelines, the 22-year-old American is now the man to beat.


Once the action got under way, all of the big names and top seeds advanced with all of the top 14 seeds based on 2019 seasonal best time advancing to tomorrow’s semifinals. All four Americans made it safely through as well, with Brazier, Clayton Murphy, and Bryce Hoppel all earning auto qualifiers. Brannon Kidder, the fourth member of Team USA, had the closest call in heat 2 as was last in his heat with 200 to go and ran the final turn in lane 2. He wound up finishing 4th in 1:46.29, which was enough to grab the last of six time qualifiers.

Donavan Brazier in Doha

Adam Kszczot of Poland, the silver medalist at the last two Worlds, was another man who had to rely on a time qualifier as he only finished fifth in a tightly-packed fourth heat, which saw the top five separated by just .22 of a second. He advanced as the next to last time qualifier at 1:46.20.

Below is how the top 16 seeds did. *Heat by heat results



Seed Name Country PB SB Result
1 Ferguson CheruiyotROTICH KEN 1:42.54 1:42.54 Q – Won heat 4 in 1:45.98
2 DonavanBRAZIER USA 1:42.70 1:42.70 Q – Won heat 1 in 1:46.04
3 BrandonMCBRIDE CAN 1:43.20 1:43.51 Q – Won heat 3 in 1:45.96
4 AmelTUKA BIH 1:42.51 1:43.62 Q – 3rd in heat 6 in 1:45.62
5 Emmanuel KipkuruiKORIR KEN 1:42.05 1:43.69 Q – Won heat 5 in 1:45.16
6 WesleyVÁZQUEZ PUR 1:43.83 1:43.83 Q – 3rd in heat 5 in 1:45.47
7 ClaytonMURPHY USA 1:42.93 1:43.94 Q – 2nd in heat #6 in 1:45.62
8 MarcoAROP CAN 1:44.25 1:44.25 Q – 2nd in heat 1 in 1:46.12
9 Abubaker HaydarABDALLA QAT 1:44.33 1:44.33 Q – 2nd in heat 3 in 1:46.11
10 BryceHOPPEL USA 1:44.41 1:44.41 Q – 2nd in heat #4 in 1:46.01
11 JamieWEBB GBR 1:44.52 1:44.52 Q – 3rd in heat 2 in 1:46.23
12 NgenoKIPNGETICH KEN 1:44.57 1:44.57 Q – Won heat 2 in 1:46.07
13 AdamKSZCZOT POL 1:43.30 1:44.61 q – 5th in heat #4 in 1:46.20
14 TshepoTSHITE RSA 1:44.69 1:44.69 Q – 3rd in heat 1 in 1:46.54
15 RyanSÁNCHEZ PUR 1:44.82 1:44.82 DNQ – Finished 7th in heat 3 in 1:54.46
16 AndrésARROYO PUR 1:44.96 1:44.96 DNQ – Finished 5th in heat 6 in 1:46.75 in heat #6

Quick Take: The Americans said they were upset to lose a great competitor in Amos, but their medal chances just went up

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Neither Brazier nor Murphy said they wanted to see Amos scratch from Worlds.

“It’s unfortunate,” Murphy said. “You don’t want to see anybody go out.”

But make no mistake, this was a huge break for the Americans’ medal chances. Brazier went from co-favorite to solid favorite for gold (Editor’s note: Amos was the actual betting favorite), and Murphy just saw one of his biggest obstacles to the podium removed.

Murphy said he feels the same level of confidence as he did in 2016 before his Olympic bronze medal.

Murphy has had his share of ups and downs since then, with an injury scuppering a promising 2017 season. In 2018, he regained his US title in his first year with the Nike Oregon Project, but Murphy still had to adjust to the increased workload Alberto Salazar demands of his athletes.

Now, Murphy said, everything seems to be coming together. He is used to the NOP workload and feels ready to go in Doha.

“I had such a big break — not break, but injury season — at the end of ’17 into ’18 and it just took so long to get the body back and used to the workload.”

Quick Take: It’s been a rough week for OTC 800 runners

The week of a major championship is the worst possible time to pick up an injury, and that has happened not once, but twice, to members of the Oregon Track Club this week. On Monday, Hanna Green picked up a hamstring injury, tried to run through it in her prelim yesterday, and wound up finishing last. And today, Amos wrote on Instagram that he picked up an Achilles injury which did not respond to treatment and ruled him out of this meet.

Add in that Francine Niyonsaba can no longer compete because of the IAAF’s hyperandrogenism rules, and this has been an unfortunate Worlds for the OTC 800 crew.

Quick Take: Amos’ medal drought continues

Amos hasn’t medalled at the Worlds or the Olympics since his silver as an 18-year-old in 2012, and his injury robbed him of perhaps his best opportunity to add a medal since then. One of the biggest questions at Worlds was whether Amos could overcome his recent championship struggles to win this event; unfortunately, that question will remain unanswered.

QT: Donavan Brazier not fazed at being the favorite

Brazier said Amos being out does not affect him that much. Brazier sounded confident and ready for any type of race in the final. But after his 2017 Worlds experience (where he didn’t make the final), Brazier said he knows he has to be ready for the semifinal first where only 2 people in each heat are guaranteed a spot in the final.

QT: Emmanuel Korir advances and talks about … 2020

Emmanuel Korir was the top 800m runner in the world in 2018 as he went undefeated. He also was undefeated in 2017, until he was sidelines by an injury at Worlds. 

2019 has been a different thing all together as he has yet to win anything (except a heat at the Kenyan Trials and his heat today). He looked as good today as he has all year, and won his heat, but it wasn’t a dominant performance and afterwards in the mixed zone (video below) Korir was talking about how he’ll be ready not for the semfinal, but next year.  Korir was involved in a very serious crash this year that could have killed him and where he dislocated a shoulder. He also has had lower leg issues and has not been himself this year. He readily acknowledged that he won’t be fully 100% until next year, but up next is tomorrow’s semifinal. If anyone can win a medal here not 100% it is Korir, who won the Pre Classic last year, despite nearly FALLING in the race.

QT: Bryce Hoppel a bit more refreshed and into semifinals

At the start of the year, almost no one would have predicted Bryce Hoppel would be a professional runner and on the Worlds team. But the Kansas star has taken it to a new level this year. At the Pan Am Games in August, he appeared to be running out of steam, but Hoppel says he has been back in Kansas training by himself and got a sort of second wind and enters Worlds not feeling tired. This was a good performance for him and he’s got the support of his family here to try and help him get in the final.

Quick Take: Brannon Kidder ran far from a perfect race, but he survived

As soon as USAs finished, Kidder knew that he had a shot to make it to Worlds as he was the fourth finisher in the USA final with the IAAF standard (he finished 6th overall) and trained the rest of the season with that in the back of his mind.

Kidder watched the Diamond League 800 final with a group of other athletes in Leuven, Belgium, and though things looked bleak for his and Brazier’s chances one lap in, Kidder knew how fit Brazier had been at USAs and never lost hope.

“I felt like Amos was showing some signs [of tiring over the final 100],” Kidder said. “I thought, maybe…”

We all know how that worked out.

Kidder did not run a strong tactical race as he was toward the back of the pack with 200 to go and wound up running the final turn in lane 2. He said after the race that he tried to stay patient, but he wasn’t patient enough — had he backed off a little on the turn, he may have had more left over the final 100, where he missed out on an auto spot by just .06.

But Kidder caught a break with Amos scratching — he was supposed to be in Kidder’s heat — and now he’s on to the semis. In the 800, as in the NCAA basketball tournament, the same mantra applies: survive and advance. It doesn’t matter how.

QT: Brandon McBride finds out Nijel Amos it out

The word that Amostwas out of the competition did not reach McBride until this interview.

Quick Take: Marco Arop feels that his hamstring injury was a blessing in disguise

Arop, the 2018 NCAA runner-up for Mississippi State, picked up a hamstring injury at the end of the collegiate season, and as a result, he didn’t even qualify for NCAAs. But he took some time off to let it heal, came back strong to finish 2nd at the Canadian champs, and followed that up with a big PR of 1:44.25 to win the Pan American Games.

Now Arop says he’s in the best shape of his life, and while the injury wasn’t part of the plan, it may have helped him be in his best shape this late in the year.

“I wasn’t happy to be injured,” Arop said, “but I was definitely grateful to be able to recover as quickly as I did.”

Mark English interview

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