World Champs Women’s 800 — A Rivalry Resumed

Young 800 stars Athing Mu and Keely Hodgkinson have now met 3 times, with the American now up 3–0. (KEVIN MORRIS)

WHEN IT COMES TO delivering, Athing Mu has usually been the driver, taking charge from the start and leaving her pursuers in the rearview mirror. But in Eugene the young Olympic champion was a passenger for more than half of the race and was then given a challenge down the homestretch, paving the way for what may be a decade-long rivalry.

Three Americans (Mu, World Indoor champ Ajee’ Wilson and Tokyo bronze medalist Raevyn Rogers) were in the final, as were Britain’s Tokyo silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson, breakout Kenyan Mary Moraa, Jamaican Natoya Goule, Anita Horvat of Slovenia and Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji.

Normally Mu would set the tone for a quick pace, but it was Welteji who darted to the front once the field passed 100 and hit the 200 in 27.56, followed by Hodgkinson and Mu. At the bell, it was a trio of 20-year-olds, as Welteji’s 57.09 was a hair in front of Mu and Hodgkinson, with 22-year-old Moraa sitting in 4th, followed by Horvat, Wilson, Goule and Rogers.

At 500, Mu decided it was time to go and she accelerated past Welteji with Hodgkinson on her heels and Moraa on the Brit’s shoulder.

At 600 (1:26.79), Mu had a 2-meter lead on Hodgkinson, but that lead shrank quickly as the two neared the homestretch. As they came off the turn, an opening appeared, and Hodgkinson took advantage of it. With Mu running near the right edge of lane 1, it was as if she were inviting Hodgkinson to try and pass, and that she did.

But Mu did not waver. She ran shoulder-to-shoulder with Hodgkinson as they rushed toward the finish. In the last 30m Mu put in a final surge, outlasting Hodgkinson, as she crossed in a world leading 1:56.30 – 1:56.38, the first ever WC 800 gold for the U.S. women. For Mu, it was the No. 5 U.S. performance ever.

Just a step back, Moraa staged a similar charge, running down Welteji 1:56.71–1:57.02, PRs for both, to claim bronze. Goule finished 5th in 1:57.90, followed by Rogers, Horvat and Wilson. All 3 medalists bettered Mu’s 1:57.01 yearly world leader.

The triumphant Mu said, “It was a fast competition. I love competing against other fast women. I really just wanted to be consistent this year and to continue with the wins that I have been having. Today, it was a little bit harder for me but I wanted to make sure that when I came on the track, I just do my best. The next goal is just to continue competing and hopefully to get faster and faster.”

Hodgkinson, who still has Commonwealth aspirations on her calendar, told the media, “I went to the inside, but the gap wasn’t there. I ran to the line, gave it everything and I am happy with World silver. I got so close, but it is what it is and I am proud to have given myself a chance out there.”

She added, “The World Championships are tiring physically and mentally, but this what I love to do. I have to get mentally ready for Birmingham.”

Moraa, whose PR capped her day, said, “I am so happy to perform like this today and of course, to win a medal. This is a very special achievement for me and my village. The race was tough, but I tried to push myself to finish like this.”


WOMEN’S 800 RESULTS

FINAL (July 24)

(temperature 88F/31C; humidity 40%)

1. Athing Mu (US) 1:56.30 (WL, AL) (x, 5 A)

(27.63, 29.53 [57.16], 29.63 [1:26.79], 29.51) (57.16/59.14) (14.56);

2. Keely Hodgkinson (GB) 1:56.38

(27.60, 29.72 [57.32], 29.80 [1:27.12], 29.26) (57.32/59.06) (14.67);

3. Mary Moraa (Ken) 1:56.71 PR

(27.77, 29.69 [57.46], 29.82 [1:27.28], 29.43) (57.46/59.25) (14.50);

4. Diribe Welteji (Eth) 1:57.02 PR

(27.56, 29.53 [57.09], 30.27 [1:27.36], 29.66) (57.09/59.93) (14.87);

5. Natoya Goule (Jam) 1:57.90

(28.06, 29.78 [57.84], 29.81 [1:27.65], 30.25) (57.84/60.06) (15.17);

6. Raevyn Rogers (US) 1:58.26

(27.88, 29.99 [57.87], 29.66 [1:27.53], 30.73) (57.87/60.39) (15.46);

7. Anita Horvat (Slo) 1:59.83

(27.79, 29.85 [57.64], 30.59 [1:28.23], 31.60) (57.64/62.19) (16.09);

8. Ajee’ Wilson (US) 2:00.19

(27.98, 29.77 [57.75], 29.65 [1:27.40], 32.79) (57.75/62.44) (17.08).

(leader splits: Welteji 27.56, 57.09; Mu 1:26.79)

HEATS (July 21)

I–1. Welteji 1:58.83; 2. Jemma Reekie (GB) 1:59.09; 3. Adelle Tracey (GB) 1:59.20 PR; 4. Lindsey Butterworth (Can) 2:00.81; 5. Jarinter Mwasya (Ken) 2:02.35; 6. Eveliina Määttänen (Fin) 2:02.68; 7. Déborah Rodríguez (Uru) 2:03.04; 8. Mariela Luisa Real (Mex) 2:03.24.

II–1. Hodgkinson 2:00.88; 2. Horvat 2:01.48; 3. Lore Hoffmann (Swi) 2:01.63; 4. Christina Hering (Ger) 2:01.63; 5. Gayanthika Thushari Artigala (SrL) 2:02.35; 6. Elena Bellò (Ita) 2:02.78; 7. Catriona Bisset (Aus) 2:22.25 (advanced on appeal).

III–1. Mu 2:01.30; 2. Halimah Nakaayi (Uga) 2:01.41; 3. Ellie Baker (GB) 2:01.72; 4. Rose M. Almanza (Cub) 2:01.96; 5. Olha Lyakhova (Ukr) 2:02.16; 6. Assia Raziki (Mor) 2:03.77; 7. Tess Kirsopp-Cole (Aus) 2:05.74.

IV–1. Renelle Lamote (Fra) 2:00.71; 2. Freweyni Hailu (Eth) 2:00.93; 3. Wilson 2:01.02; 4. Alexandra Bell (GB) 2:01.25; 5. Naomi Korir (Ken) 2:01.61; 6. Shafiqua Maloney (VIN) 2:03.00; 7. Addy Townsend (Can) 2:03.79.

V–1. Rogers 2:01.36; 2. Habitam Alemu (Eth) 2:01.37; 3. Noélie Yarigo (Ben) 2:01.58; 4. Prudence Sekgodisa (SA) 2:01.60; 5. Chrisann Gordon-Powell (Jam) 2:01.91; 6. Madeleine Kelly (Can) 2:02.71; 7. Vanessa Scaunet (Bel) 2:04.07; 8. Claudia Hollingsworth (Aus) 2:04.11.

VI–1. Goule 2:00.06; 2. Moraa 2:00.42; 3. Anna Wielgosz (Pol) 2:00.79; 4. Majtie Kolberg (Ger) 2:01.21; 5. Louise Shanahan (Ire) 2:01.71; 6. Jerneja Smonkar (Slo) 2:02.48; 7. Nozomi Tanaka (Jpn) 2:03.56; 8. Hedda Hynne (Nor) 2:06.27.

SEMIS (July 22)

I–1. Moraa 1:59.65; 2. Wilson 1:59.97; 3. Tracey 2:00.21; 4. Alemu 2:00.37; 5. Reekie 2:00.43; 6. Lamote 2:00.86; 7. Butterworth 2:01.39; 8. Hering 2:01.57.

II–1. Hodgkinson 1:58.51; 2. Goule 1:58.73; 3. Rogers 1:58.77; 4. Hailu 2:00.11; 5. Wielgosz 2:00.51; 6. Kolberg 2:01.36; 7. Yarigo 2:01.52; 8. Baker 2:02.77; 9. Bisset 2:05.20 (advanced on appeal).

III–1. Mu 1:58.12; 2. Welteji 1:58.16 PR; 3. Horvat 1:59.60 PR; 4. Hoffmann 1:59.88; 5. Sekgodisa 2:00.01; 6. Bellò 2:00.34; 7. Bell 2:00.82; 8. Nakaayi 2:01.05; 9. Korir 2:03.08.

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