Bryce Hoppel Wins World 800m Indoor Title

Women: Tsige Duguma wins world title 10 months after running her first career 800

GLASGOW, Scotland — American Bryce Hoppel passed Elliot Crestan of Belgium down the homestretch to win the gold medal in the 800m at the 2024 World Indoor Athletics Championships on Sunday night as a fast-closing Andreas Kramer of Sweden moved up for silver in 1:45.27 and Crestan settled for bronze in 1:45.32.

There was jostling early on as positioning is critical in the indoor 800m. Defending champion Mariano Garcia of Spain had the lead at 400 in 51.29. Crestan got the lead after making contact with Garcia on the turn before the bell, as Hoppel moved up to second at the bell. He stalked Crestan on the final lap before passing on the final straight for gold.

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Hoppel is the third American male to win world indoors in the 800, joining David Krummenacker (2003) and Boris Berian (2016).

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1:44.92 WL
1:45.27 SB

Hoppel closes out dream indoor season with world championship gold

The confidence has been oozing from Bryce Hoppel’s pores this season and he could not have been more confident coming into tonight’s World Indoor final after looking terrific in Friday’s prelims and Saturday’s semis. World Indoors is a grind with three races in three days, but Hoppel felt that it would actually help him because he has spent the last three months working on his endurance in Flagstaff and training with miler Hobbs Kessler (though Hoppel is still coached by his college coach Michael Whittelsey). So he was not surprised when he ran a world-leading 1:44.92 to win tonight. In fact, he basically predicted it after the semifinals.

A combination of tactics and fitness carried Hoppel to the title tonight. Hoppel did not come off the break well at 100 meters but stayed calm as the men in front of him battled it out, never falling farther back than third place. He did a good job of covering Eliott Crestan’s move on the penultimate lap, moving up to 2nd before the bell. And he was patient over the final 200 meters. Hoppel knew he had a move in him, but did not blow it too early by trying to pass on the turn. Instead, he waited until the home straight and the timing was perfect.

Hoppel ran three years of indoor track at Kansas, winning NCAAs in his final year in 2019, and he has run USA indoors every year of his pro career, winning all four 800m titles on offer in 2020, 2022, 2023, and 2024 (there was no meet in 2021 due to COVID). All that experience contributed to Hoppel’s win tonight, but it’s also true that it is easier to run a strong tactical race when you have the fitness to respond to any move. Hoppel didn’t waste much energy tonight but knows he is in incredible shape and that gave him a ton of confidence.

“The training and everything going on at this time, it’s propelled me to have a new level of confidence,” Hoppel said. “Getting out there, I feel like I can almost do anything. It’s exciting going into this year, because I’ve just felt so in control…that strength side just lets you put you where you need to be in the races.”

Flagstaff is now an 800-meter training mecca?

It’s up for debate how much altitude benefits 800-meter runners. Put Hoppel firmly in the camp of: it works. Hoppel has been super consistent, making every US team, indoors and out, since 2019. But he has not run a personal best since 2020 and, entering his fifth full year as a pro, Hoppel wanted to introduce a new stimulus in 2024. Hence, a three-month altitude camp this winter to improve his endurance.

The camp (and having training partners to push him) could not have gone better and Hoppel believes the results have shown on the track.

“I wouldn’t say I had trouble pushing myself in workouts when I was back where I was,” Hoppel said. “But now you just add that factor in and you’re still trying to hit the same times, it’s training you much harder without you really having to think about it. So I think that’s been a huge change.”

Mariano Garcia again tried to throw off his competitors in the call room; it didn’t work

The reigning champion Garcia was extremely aggressive in fighting for and maintaining his position (his behavior was borderline DQ-worthy, though it was the Frenchman Benjamin Robert who was ultimately DQ’d for obstruction) and he led through halfway in 51.31. But whether it was due to pushing too hard, too early, or having to race three times in three days, Garcia had absolutely nothing over the final 200, fading to last after closing his last lap in 29.96.

Garcia also kept up his pre-race antics. Before Saturday’s semis, Garcia was whistling “Happy Birthday” in the call room and tonight he was trying to remind Hoppel what a long trip he had home after the race. But it had no effect on the perpetually smiling Hoppel.

“He was saying a couple things like, ‘I’m going back to Spain, you have a long way back to the US,’” Hoppel said. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, it’s far, I’ve gotta go all the way back.’ I love the guy, but I was just trying to get zoned in.”

Discuss: Bryce MF Hoppel wins 2024 world indoor gold

Women’s 800: Tsige Duguma wins world title 10 months after running her first career 800

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One year ago, if Ethiopia’s Tsige Duguma was known for anything, it was as a 400-meter runner. Though she was barely known for that considering her personal best was just 53.9, three seconds off of a world-class time. She had never raced an 800 in her life.

Now Duguma is known not just as an 800 runner, but as the world indoor champion after powering to a wire-to-wire victory in 2:01.90 on Sunday night. Home favorite Jemma Reekie of Great Britain/Scotland took silver in 2:02.72 while Benin’s Noelie Yarigo earned the first medal of her career at age 38 in 2:03.15.

Duguma, 23, got to the lead off the break but quickly pumped the brakes, running 29.39 for her first 200 and a glacial 34.00 for her second. The third 200 was a little faster 30.60, but the whole field remained in contention for a last-lap burnup and Duguma used her sprint speed to close in 27.91 for her last lap and win the title.

Reekie had run in second for most of the race and even edged her torso ahead of Duguma a few times, but she was never able to make a complete pass, with Duguma always surging enough to prevent her from cutting in and running the inside line. The extra distance did not help Reekie but ultimately Duguma’s speed was far better than everyone else’s as she won by .82, a dominant victory in the end.



We may have a new player in the women’s 800 meters

Three years ago, a converted 400m runner from East Africa emerged on the scene and started making noise in the women’s 800 meters. You know her as Kenya’s Mary Moraa, the 2023 world champion. Duguma is not nearly as fast as Moraa over 400 (Moraa’s pb is 50.38), but she has improved more quickly in the 800. Moraa ran her first 800 in March 2020, and though she ran 1:59 in her first full year running the event in 2021, she didn’t break 1:59 until June 2022.

Duguma, meanwhile, ran her first 800 in May 2023 and by her second race in July she had already run 1:59.40. In Glasgow, Duguma lowered her pb to 1:58.35 in the semis and came back the next day to win the world title. None of the “big three” of Moraa, Athing Mu, and Keely Hodgkinson were in Glasgow, so it remains to be seen how Duguma stacks up against the very best in the world in this event. But it will be exciting to find out come outdoors.

Jemma Reekie takes silver at home

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It’s easy to say that Reekie, whose background is as an 800/1500 runner, should have taken the lead earlier and not allowed it to go slow. But Reekie did try to move past Duguma a few times and was repelled. Maybe Reekie should have pushed harder for the lead, but a silver medal is still a strong result for the Scot, particularly when you consider where she has come from the last few years.

Reekie was 4th in the 2021 Olympic 800 final, running 1:56 as a 23-year-old, but battled mono in the 2022 season and did not even make the world final. Then at the start of 2023, Reekie and former training partner Laura Muir suddenly parted ways with former coach Andy Young, with Reekie ultimately joining Brighton-based Jon Bigg. Reekie regained her form last summer, winning the London Diamond League and finishing 5th at Worlds, and now she has her first global medal.

Noelie Yarigo earns her first medal at age 38

Yarigo, who hails from the West African nation of Benin, was a 2:11 800m runner as a 19-year-old in 2005 but that would be her last race for 6.5 years as she took a long break from the sport. Yarigo moved to France and resumed her career in 2012, and by 2015 she had made it to Worlds in the 800. In 2016, she ran 1:59.16 in Rio, which would remain her pb until 2023.

In the late-2010s, she began pacing Diamond League races and looked to be on the downswing of her racing career. But in 2023, she began working with a new coach, Romanian Valentin Anghel, who told Yarigo her pacing days were over. Yarigo wound up running 1:58.48 last year and just missed out on a berth in the final at Worlds. Now, at 38, she is a world indoor medalist.

For more on Yarigo’s late-career resurgence, check out this Emeterio Valiente article from 2023.

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