Emmanuel Korir Adds World 800m Title to Olympic Crown

Only the 86th Fastest Guy in the World Prior to Worlds, He Leaves with World Title

By LetsRun.com
July 23, 2022

EUGENE, Ore. – Olympic champion Emmanuel Korir of Kenya entered the 800 meters at the 2022 World Athletics Championships with a 1:45.85 seasonal best – a time bettered by 86 men this year. He’ll leave Worlds with his second straight global title as he closed in 25.82 and went from fourth to first to win convincingly in 1:43.71.

Algeria’s Djamel Sedjati, the 23-year-old who hadn’t lost outdoors all year long, went from 5th to 2nd in the final 100 to grab the silver in 1:44.14 in his first appearance on the global stage as Canada’s Marco Arop, who led from 300 to 700, was rewarded with the bronze in 1:44.28.  17-year-old Kenyan Emmanuel Wanyoni, the 2021 world junior champ, went from 8th at 600 to 4th at the finish in 1:44.54.

The Race

Emmanuel Korir Wins 800 Gold at 2022 Worlds Emmanuel Korir Wins 800 Gold at 2022 Worlds (Photo by Kevin Morris)

Korir ran a negative split as he went 52.29 – 51.42. The first lap was modest (52.09) for Arop, who really put the pedal down as he approached 500. Behind him, Korir and Sedjati both had a really great trip as they were both on the rail for the entire first 500. With Arop accelerating, the field strung out and Korir found himself in fourth at 500 without ever having left the rail and he promptly moved out and up, while Sedjati actually stayed on the rail for the entire first 650. Korir didn’t get past Arop until about 65 meters remained but there was no stopping him.


1:43.71 SB

Quick Take: Winning back-to-back 800m titles is incredibly impressive

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images for World Athletics)

Korir had not had the smoothest year in 2022 as he was 6th in his 800 opener in Montreuil on June 2 and 8th in the Rabat Diamond League three days later. He showed some promise by winning the 400 at the Kenyan champs on June 24 in 44.87 and ran a strong 700 meters in Stockholm on June 30, though he wound up fading to 5th. Turns out, he timed things perfectly as for the second year in a row, he was at his best when it mattered the most. That’s tough to do in an event so tactically and physically demanding as the 800.

Just look at the elite company Korir now occupies. Since Peter Snell won his second straight Olympic title in 1964, only two other men have won two straight global 800 championships – and they’re the two greatest 800m runners of all time, Wilson Kipketer and David Rudisha

Men to win two straight global 800m titles (since 1964)

Wilson Kipketer 1997-1999
David Rudisha 2011-2012 and 2015-2016
Emmanuel Korir 2021-2022

Quick Take: The Olympic and world champion is currently unsponsored

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Korir won the Olympics last year at age 26 and figured he was in for a big payday as a result of that triumph. But he showed up to Stockholm on June 30 in a regular Nike singlet (not their 2022 pro kit) and is still unsponsored.

How does that happen? Well the first thing to understand is that contracts are often handed out on potential. Korir won the Olympic title, which made the first Nike deal he signed in 2017 look like a very smart investment. And while there is something to being able to claim the Olympic champion as one of your athletes, brands are focused on what an athlete is going to do during the life of their contract rather than what they’ve already accomplished. An Olympic title last year certainly suggested Korir could do some special things in 2022 and beyond, but it wasn’t a guarantee. (Remember that Leo Manzano ran unsponsored throughout 2013 after medalling in the Olympic 1500 in 2012).

The other variable to consider is what the athlete was asking for. Korir may have asked for a significant raise that neither Nike nor any other company was willing to grant and instead wound up with nothing (for now). He also changed agents from Karen Locke to Kimberly Holland. With a world title to go with an Olympic title, he now has a bigger bargaining chip.

Quick Take: Marco Arop was not planning on taking the pace at 300m but figured he had to

Arop, who never won an NCAA title at Mississippi State (he was 2nd in 2018 outdoors and 2019 indoors) and didn’t make the Olympic final, earned the bronze and in so doing became just the second Canadian to medal in this event at Worlds (Gary Reed in 2007 was the other).

Arop often likes to run at the front so you might think that taking the lead at 300m – or perhaps earlier – was part of the plan. But Arop said no – it was actually a reaction to who was in the lead at that point of the race. Algeria’s Slimane Moula has had one of the most dangerous kicks in the world this year and Arop figured if he was in front, that would lead to a slow race – which doesn’t favor Arop.

“I saw Moula in the front and I didn’t want to play it in his hands,” Arop said. “I knew I had to take the lead at 300 if I wanted to give myself a chance.”

It turned out to be a smart decision. By taking the pace, Arop ensured he was far enough ahead enough of Moula in the home straight to hold him off, and though he was ultimately beaten by Korir and Sedjati, he put himself in great position to medal, which he did. And at just 23 years old, he will have a shot to add to that tally moving forward.

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