WC Men’s 800 — Brazier Breaks Venerable American Record

Johnny Gray’s ’85 mark finally fell as Donavan Brazier won gold at 1:42.34. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

DONAVAN BRAZIER never doubted. Not once this season, as he showed off his speed with a 1:13.77 world 600 record indoors and his strength with a 3:37.18 PR in the 1500. The 22-year-old from Michigan came in unbeaten in the 2-lapper since his 3rd in May’s Doha DL.

Returning to the site of that last loss, the favored Brazier had no worries. He coasted confidently through the rounds, winning his heat in 1:46.04, his semi in 1:44.87. At the line for the final, he faced the surviving competition. Missing was yearly list leader Nijel Amos, the winner of the May race, who tossed in the towel an hour before the heats with an Achilles injury. Also gone was Emmanuel Korir, runner-up in that DL race, who failed to make it out of his semi.

Bosnia’s Amel Tuka, a past bronze medalist, loomed dangerously. Rico’s Wesley Vázquez nearly broke his Puerto Rican Record in a blistering 1:43.96 semi that featured a remarkable 48.79 opening lap. Ferguson Cheruiyot, at 1:42.54 was the fastest in the field. Clayton Murphy had showed signs of rounding into form with his 1:43.94 at Zürich (the DL Final, in which Brazier had missed the Amerian Record by just a 10th with his 1:42.70). Also hard to overlook was Bryce Hoppel, the NCAA champ from Kansas, enjoying a season of racing better than anyone expected.

The final could not have played out better for Brazier. Vázquez took it out hard and from the cut-in Brazier floated into the No. 2 spot. Marco Arop, the NCAA runner-up from Mississippi State and the Pan-Am winner for Canada, often a fast starter himself, moved into 3rd. Vázquez passed 200m in 23.53, Brazier 0.31 back. Around the turn and onto the stretch, it almost looked like a paced Diamond League race. As they neared halfway, Brazier still looked relaxed behind the leader. Arop, though, sensed things were going a bit too fast and dropped off, creating a gap between the leaders and the chasers.

With 300 left, Brazier made the decisive move. He powered to a 3m lead by 600 (1:15.18). Vázquez began to struggle as Tuka came on strong. Murphy, in 5th at halfway, began losing ground. Hoppel was farther back. Brazier continued his fearsome charge around the final turn, entering the final stretch unchallenged. “I knew with about 100 left that if I could finish strong something special would come out of it,” he said. He took it all the way to the finish in 1:42.34, breaking the venerable meet record set by Kenya’s Billy Konchellah in ’87. More notably, he broke Johnny Gray’s even more venerable AR of 1:42.60 set in ’85. (Continued below)

Tuka finished more than a second back with his 1:43.47, while Cheruiyot sprinted for bronze in 1:43.82. However, no one closed faster over the final 200 than Hoppel, whose 13.18/26.87 finish gave him a 1:44.25 PR in 4th. Vázquez, who Brazier credited with making the race, finished 5th in 1:44.48, while Murphy faded to last in 1:47.84.

“I knew it was going to be a fast race because Wesley is an honest racer who takes it out hot. I couldn’t have done it without him,” said Brazier. “This year has been a huge domino effect; everything has just been going in my favor, from indoors into outdoors. I just kind of stepped on the gas and kept things going. Pete Julian’s been coaching me and he talked to me about how to stop handicapping myself. Ever since I’ve gone to him, I’ve been giving myself easy outs, telling myself I’m not a distance guy, or I can just do things easier than other people, but to finally just give it my all and not make excuses, I think that’s really paid off this year.”


WC MEN’S 800 RESULTS

FINAL

(October 01) (temperature 77F/25C; humidity 53%)

1. Donavan Brazier (US) 1:42.34 AR (old AR 1:42.60 Johnny Gray [SMTC] ’85) (=9, x W)

(pace—23.84, 25.37 [49.21], 25.97 [1:15.18], 27.16) (halves—49.21/53.13) (finish—13.23, 27.16, 53.13);

2. Amel Tuka (Bos) 1:43.47

(49.89/53.58) (13.52, 26.58, 53.58);

3. Ferguson Cheruiyot (Ken) 1:43.82

(50.15/53.67) (13.25, 26.44, 53.67);

4. Bryce Hoppel (US) 1:44.25 PR

(50.41/53.84) (13.69, 27.17, 53.84);

5. Wesley Vázquez (PR) 1:44.48

(23.53, 25.46 [48.99], 26.69 [1:15.68], 28.80) (48.99/55.49) (13.86, 27.29, 55.49);

6. Adrian Ben (Spa) 1:45.58

(51.56/54.02);

7. Marco Arop (Can) 1:45.78

(49.89/55.89);

8. Clayton Murphy (US) 1:47.84

(50.09/57.75).

HEATS

(September 28)

I–1. Brazier 1:46.04; 2. Arop 1:46.12; 3. Tshepo Tshite (SA) 1:46.54;

4. Andreas Kramer (Swe) 1:46.74; 5. Lucirio Antonio Garrido (Ven) 1:46.89; 6. Mariano Garcia (Spa) 1:49.08; 7. Luke Mathews (Aus) 1:50.16; 8. Min Min Zaw (Mya) 1:56.85.

II–1. Kipngetich Ngeno (Ken) 1:46.07; 2. Ben 1:46.12; 3. Jamie Webb (GB) 1:46.23; 4. Brannon Kidder (US) 1:46.29;

5. Jamal Al-Hayrani (Qat) 1:46.40; 6. Marc Reuther (Ger) 1:47.31.

III–1. Brandon McBride (Can) 1:45.96; 2. Abubaker Haydar Abdalla (Qat) 1:46.11; 3. Pierre-Ambroise Bosse (Fra) 1:46.14;

4. Mouad Zahafi (Mor) 1:46.56; 5. Peter Bol (Aus) 1:46.92; 6. Pol Moya (And) 1:48.52; 7. Ryan Sanchez (PR) 1:54.46; 8. Roberto Belo Amaral Soares (TLS) 2:02.43 PR.

IV–1. Cheruiyot 1:45.98; 2. Hoppel 1:46.01; 3. Abdessalem Ayouni (Tun) 1:46.09; 4. Nabil Oussama (Mor) 1:46.17; 5. Adam Kszczot (Pol) 1:46.20;

6. Mohamed Belbachir (Alg) 1:46.52; 7. Mark English (Ire) 1:47.25.

V–1. Emmanuel Korir (Ken) 1:45.16; 2. Mostafa Smaili (Mor) 1:45.27; 3. Vázquez 1:45.47; 4. Yassine Hathat (Alg) 1:45.67; 5. Kyle Langford (GB) 1:46.14;

6. Quamel Prince (US) 1:48.41; 7. Mohammed Al-Suleimani (Oma) 1:50.91 PR; 8. Benjamin Enzema (EqG) 1:51.69.

VI–1. Elliot Giles (GB) 1:45.53; 2. Murphy 1:45.62; 3. Tuka 1:45.62;

4. Álvaro de Arriba (Spa) 1:45.67; 5. Andrés Arroyo (PR) 1:46.75; 6. Edose Ibadin (Ngr) 1:47.91; 7. Musa Hajdari (KOS) 1:47.98;… dq—Samer Ali Saleh Al Johar (Jor).

SEMIS

(September 29)

I–1. Vázquez 1:43.96; 2. Cheruiyot 1:44.20; 3. Murphy 1:44.48; 4. Ben 1:44.97 PR;

5. Giles 1:45.15; 6. Kszczot 1:45.22; 7. Ayouni 1:45.80; 8. Abdalla 1:46.87.

II–1. Brazier 1:44.87; 2. Arop 1:45.07;

3. Korir 1:45.19; 4. Kidder 1:45.62; 5. Smaili 1:45.78; 6. Tshite 1:46.08; 7. Hathat 1:46.15; 8. Webb 1:48.44.

III–1. Tuka 1:45.63; 2. Hoppel 1:45.95;

3. de Arriba 1:46.09; 4. McBride 1:46.21; 5. Langford 1:46.41; 6. Ngeno 1:46.61; 7. Bosse 1:47.60;… dq—Oussama.