World Indoors Day 2 AM: Hoppel, Reekie Look Terrific as 800m Finals Are Set

Plus Miltiadis Tentoglou won a tight long jump in the lone final this morning

GLASGOW, Scotland – The men’s and women’s 800-meter finals are set at the 2024 World Indoor Athletics Championships. The 800 semis were the main attraction on the track during the morning session on day 2 of World Indoors, while Greece’s world and Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou claimed gold in the lone final of the session in the men’s long jump. Tentoglou and Italy’s Mattia Furlani both jumped 8.22 in round 1, but Tentoglou won with a superior second-best mark. The three medalists were separated by just one centimeter as Jamaica’s Carey McLeod jumped 8.21m for bronze. 

Bryce Hoppel will be the lone American in either 800m final as he continued to look fantastic by winning the second semifinal in 1:45.08, just .08 off the world lead. He will have a formidable opponent in reigning champion Mariano Garcia of Spain, who continued to impress in Glasgow and dominated the first semi in 1:47.83. The second American, Isaiah Harris, narrowly missed out on the final, finishing 4th by .04 behind Sweden’s Andreas Kramer (the top three made it automatically with no time qualifiers) in heat 1.

In the women’s 800, home favorite Jemma Reekie looked incredible in winning the second semi in 1:58.28, but Ethiopians Tsige Duguma (1:58.35 to win heat 1) and Habitam Alemu (1:58.59 to finish 2nd in heat 2) also ran fast. 

*Full day 2 a.m. results

Bryce Hoppel: “I’m feeling dangerous for tomorrow”

World Athletics Indoor Championships
Glasgow, Scotland, UK
March1-3, 2024
Kevin Morris photo

Hoppel said after Friday’s prelims he had yet to feel challenged in an 800-meter race in 2024 and that remained the case today as he pulled a late move to win his semi. He was smiling throughout his interview and feels that he’s never been in this kind of shape at this point in the season – not when he won NCAA indoors in 2019, and not even when he earned World Indoor bronze in Belgrade two years ago.

“I’ve just been feeling like nothing has fazed me yet,” Hoppel said. “Even after this 800 two days in a row, I’m still just like, all right, let’s keep going. Nothing’s feeling fatigued, nothing’s feeling tired. So I’m feeling dangerous for tomorrow.”

In Glasgow, the 800 runners must race three times in three days, but Hoppel views that as an advantage for him as he has logged more strength work this winter than ever before by training with miler Hobbs Kessler in Flagstaff.

“I feel like we’ve been training this way to where these three rounds are a lot easier than what we’ve been doing in training,” Hoppel said.

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Hoppel has looked terrific so far, but so has reigning champ Mariano Garcia, whom Hoppel views as his biggest threat in Sunday’s final.

“He’s been looking phenomenal, the Spaniard,” Hoppel said. “He got gold two years ago and hopefully we can take it from him this year.”

Mariano Garcia has looked amazing and is full of energy

The defending champ comfortably won the first heat in 1:47.83 and then was full of energy in the mixed zone afterwards, photobombing our interview with Sweden’s Andreas Kramer and then when holding court with the Spanish media.

Garcia doesn’t do interviews in English but our friends in the Spanish media said he told them he was talking about how he was whistling the tune of “Happy Birthday” in the mixed zone in an attempt to relax and also annoy his competitors. He said he liked it and plans on using the tactic again tomorrow but admitted he’s kind of “crazy” and may do something else to relax (apparently he’s danced like a chicken in the past according to a Spanish media member, who adds that he’s very popular in Spain).

Isaiah Harris: “With a field that good, any wrong decision is costly”

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Harris was fighting it out tooth and nail for a spot in the final, and if they took eight finalists as they did two years ago in Belgrade, he would have made it. But in Glasgow, only six make the final and Harris was the odd man out.

Harris had the lead off the break but ceded it to Mariano Garcia at the 200m mark, which Harris said he was okay with considering he did not want to lead. His mistake, Harris said in retrospect, was allowing Andreas Kramer of Sweden to pass him for 3rd at the halfway mark. That allowed Kramer to run the inside line on the rail and forced Harris to run a little extra distance to get around him. Harris did indeed move up to third entering the home straight, but Kramer was able to make up the distance on the inside and squeeze through to the final.

Harris missed out on the final by .04 and said, looking back, having to run a little extra distance on the curves may have been the margin between qualifying and missing out. But that is what makes the 800 meters, particularly indoors, so exciting. Athletes must make split-second decisions, and any small error can be the difference between making the final and watching it from the stands.

“It’s racing,” Harris said. “You make small decisions, sometimes they pay off, sometimes they don’t. “With a field that good, any wrong decision is costly.”

Kramer was happy to make the final and almost missed out despite feeling great

Kramer, on the other hand, benefitted from grabbing an inside position from Harris mid-race and then moving into third on the inside right at the finish.

“During the last lap, I was kind of frustrated because I felt so much energy and my body wants to find a way through to top three. So I just waited for some space to come there and luckily I had a couple meters to move up,” said Kramer. “I’m very happy to have made the final.”

It’s worth noting that tomorrow’s final will be a six-person final, as is traditional at World Indoors. Two years ago in Belgrade, World Athletics experimented with having just two rounds of the 800 and taking eight to the final but they’ve gone back to having three rounds and a six-person final.

Expect a fast women’s 800 final on Sunday

The 800m semifinalists were not screwing around today. In the first semi, Jamaica’s Natoya Goule-Toppin took it out in 58.14, and though she faded to last, Ethiopia’s Tsige Duguma held on to run 1:58.35, a pb of more than a second. Duguma, 23, is a converted 400m runner – her pb is 54.43 from the 2022 African Championships – who had never run an 800 before July 2023 in Heusden. But she ran 1:59.40 in that race, an immediate sign that she should move up in distance, and now she’s a 1:58 woman with a great chance of a World Indoor medal.

Not to be outdone, Ethiopia’s Habitam Alemu, the 2024 world indoor leader at 1:57.86, took out the second semi even faster (57.37), looking in control until the very end when Jemma Reekie moved by to win in 1:58.28. All three qualifiers in the second semi had to run fast as Alemu clocked 1:58.59 and Uganda’s 2019 world champ Halimah Nakaayi ran 1:58.91. How fast is that? Only two other women in the world have run under 1:59 this season.

With Alemu presumably pushing the pace, we could see her world lead tumble in Sunday’s final. The question is whether the top women still have a fast time in them after running quick times in Friday’s prelims and Saturday’s semis.

Reekie has looked supreme and will be tough to beat in the final

Scotland’s Jemma Reekie won’t be talking to the media until after the final here in Glasgow but her running has been making powerful statements for her here at Worlds. A heat win and fastest time of the day yesterday (1:59.45) and a semifinal win and fastest time of the day today (1:58.28). Assuming the final is fast, it would shock us if Reekie doesn’t at least set a new indoor PB (1:57.91) and one British media member was openly speculating with us about whether Keely Hodgkinson’s British indoor record of 1:57.20 might fall.

In terms of medals, obviously in an indoor 800 a lot can happen, but it would surprise us if two of the medals don’t go to the two semifinal winners.

Natoya Goule-Toppin remains medal-less

Goule-Toppin has accomplished an awful lot in her 10+ years in the sport but she’s never won a medal at Worlds or the Olympics and that streak will continue. Not medalling here wasn’t a shock considering Goule hadn’t raced all of indoors. She told us afterwards that initially she wasn’t going to run indoors but then decided to run Millrose but a knee injury popped up.

She is happy to be healthy in an Olympic year and would love to grab that first global medal in Paris. 

”My gosh, it would be a great dream for me. I don’t want to finish the sport knowing that I accomplished everything but that so that’s something that I know I would want,” said Goule, who set the Jamaican outdoor record of 1:55.96 in her last race of 2023, making her the third fastest woman of 2023.

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