Tokyo 800m final report: Korir and Rotich secure Kenyan double success
This final never looked likely to be fast. None of the nine finalist is known for wishing to take an
early lead. So tactical awareness was always going to be a major factor rather than pure speed.
And as the race started it was pretty clear no one really wished to run at the front. The first lap
was slower than any of the semifinals, with Peter Bol and Emmanuel Korir in the lead, with Ferguson
Rotich, Nijel Amos close behind. Towards the bell Bol decided an acceleration was called for, so he
increased the pace. The bell was taken after 53.76 - most athletes would run a negative split here.
Korir, Amos, Rotich and Patryk Dobek were quick to react and were not too far behind Bol. Amel Tuka
and Clayton Murphy though were right at the back. A tactical error perhaps, because it's not a good
idea to give the rest of the field such a margin when the first lap is run so slowly.
Bol really stretched out the field on the back straight. Korir, Dobek and Amos were following, Adrian
Ben came forward and ran alongside of Rotich. Behind them Gabiel Tual, Tuka and Murphy were struggling
to gain ground. Around the bend Korir went past Bol and dashed straight for home. Bol stayed with him
for the moment, Amos looked good in third, just ahead of Dobek. Ben was faltering, Rotich decided to
switch to the inside and was hoping for gaps to appear.
Onto the final straight Korir was still leading ahead of Bol. Dobek drifted to the outside and Rotich
thankfully came next to him on the inside. Amos was suddenly losing ground fast, his medal hopes gone.
Korir was never really threatened and threw up his arms in delight as he crossed the line. At just 50
metres before the finish Bol had given all he had and could no longer hang on. Rotich and Dobek went past,
but Rotich had the faster finish and went past Dobek to claim silver and make it a Kenyan 1-2. Dobek
scored a bronze medal - an astounding result considering this is his first season as an 800 m runner.
Amos and Murphy both looked desperately disappointed as they finished right at the back of the field.
1. Emmanuel Korir KEN 1:45.06
2. Ferguson Rotich KEN 1:45.23
3. Patryk Dobek POL 1:45.39
4. Peter Bol AUS 1:45.92
5. Adrian Ben ESP 1:45.96
6. Amel Tuka BIH 1:45.98
7. Gabriel Tual FRA 1:46.03
8. Nijel Amos BOT 1:46.41
9. Clayton Murphy USA 1:46.53
Tokyo 800m semifinal reports
Three semis with just the top two progressing plus two fastest losers.
Previous championships have shown some of these races may be run at a
frantic pace - that didn't quite happen this year, but there was plenty of drama.
Not the hardest semi, on paper at least. Korir was a strong favorite, Hoppel,
Dobek and López would appear to be the main candidates for the second spot.
The initial pace was modest - Hoppel and Crestan were leading ahead of Korir, Hunter
was pushed forward and used the momentum to get close to the leaders and so they
reached halfway in 52.12. Hoppel kept the lead but as Hunter went backward Crestan
attacked and lead them into the final bend. Korir accelerated, López came all
the way around and Dobek moved closer on the inside. Crestan couldn't hold on to the
lead and four runners came level with him. With just a few seconds to go Dobek, Crestan,
Hoppel, Korir and López were running side by side. Dobek found a little bit
extra and took the win. López appeared to edge out Korir, who somehow still
managed to outlean the Mexican to qualify for the final. Crestan scored a PB, and Ayouni
even managed a National Record, but as the other semis were faster only Dobek and Korir
went through to the final.
1. Patryk Dobek POL 1:44.60 Q
2. Emmanuel Korir KEN 1:44.74 Q
3. Jesus López MEX 1:44.77
4. Eliott Crestan BEL 1:44.84
5. Bryce Hoppel USA 1:44.91
6. Abdessalem Ayouni TUN 1:44.99
7. Charles Hunter AUS 1:46.73
8. Abdellatif El Guesse MAR 1:46.85
As expected Arop took the lead early, and set a tough pace. The field was well strung out at the
bell, Arop leading in 50.94 ahead of Bol, Tual, Saruni, Murphy, Rowden, Borkowski and Ben.
At the back straight Bol was trying to take the lead but Arop held him off. Saruni and Murphy
were working their way forward. At the back Borkowski had to let go and Ben moved up one place.
Into the final straight and a lot of runners were still tight together. Bol was this time going
past Arop. Saruni decided to take the outside as Murphy gambled on the inside. Bol had a free
run, Tual went past the tiring Arop and Murphy had just enough room to squeeze between the two
to move into second place. Rowden seemed to have quite a bit of pace left, but could not get around
Arop in time to fight for the top places. On the outside Ben had come from nowhere and nudged just
past Saruni to grab fourth place. That proved to be an important one, because it was this race
that provided the two fastest losers. Therefore four runners from this race went to the final.
1. Peter Bol AUS 1:44.11 Q
2. Clayton Murphy USA 1:44.18 Q
3. Gabriel Tual FRA 1:44.28 q
4. Adrian Ben ESP 1:44.30 q
5. Daniel Rowden GBR 1:44.35
6. Michael Saruni KEN 1:44.54
7. Marco Arop CAN 1:44.90
8. Mateusz Borkowski POL 1:46.54
On paper this was definitely the hardest semi to qualify from. Rotich, Amos and Tuka have all
won global medals. And so had Bosse, although he didn't seem to have that speed this year.
Giles found himself in the lead, with Tuka, Amos and Jewett following, while Rotich was holding
himself back for the moment. They reached 400 after 51.43, faster than the first semifinal, but
not as fast as the second. Into the final bend Rotich moved forward with huge strides, but as he
was passing Amos there was a slight collision between Jewett and Amos and both went down!
Rotich moved forward, and looked mighty impressive. Tuka came second as he managed to pass Giles,
who wasn't fast enough to qualify on time.
Jewett and Amos got up slowly. The two seemed united in tragedy, shook hands and finally jogged
to the finish side by side, smiling ruefully. The fastest man in the world this year, Nijel Amos,
back after so many injuries, was not to run in the Olympic final. But the story didn't end there.
The jury eventually put the blame on a slight misstep by Jewett and reinstated Amos into the final!
1. Ferguson Rotich KEN 1:44.04 Q
2. Amel Tuka BIH 1:44.53 Q
3. Elliot Giles GBR 1:44.74
4. Nabil Oussama MAR 1:46.42
5. Jeff Riseley AUS 1:47.17
6. Pierre-Ambroise Bosse FRA 1:48.62
7. Isaiah Jewett USA 2:38.12
8. Nijel Amos BOT 2:38.49 q
Tokyo 800m heat reports
Six heats were scheduled, so the first three of each heat would qualify and an additional
six would make it to the semis on time. With six places available for fastest losers
it was to be expected one or two heats would be fast. Notable absentees compared to earlier
years were of course reigning Olympic Champion David Rudisha (seems retired), but also World
Champion Donavan Brazier (did not qualify) and reigning European Champion Adam Kszcot.
This heat featured Ferguson Rotich, Elliot Giles and Peter Bol, but it was Iasaiah Jewett who took
the lead and with Bol and Giles following made it to the bell in 51.65. He kept his pace quite
well until the final bend when in particular Rotich looked really strong and went past everyone to take
the win in a very fast 1:43.75. Bol and Giles qualified as well, and Bol even ran a new Australian record.
Since this turned out to be the fastest heat by a long stretch Abdellatif El Guesse and Jewett made it
through as fastest losers as well.
1. Ferguson Rotich KEN 1:43.75 Q
2. Peter Bol AUS 1:44.13 Q
3. Elliot Giles GBR 1:44.49 Q
4. Abdellatif El Guesse MAR 1:44.84 q
5. Isaiah Jewett USA 1:45.07 q
6. Tony van Diepen NED 1:46.03
7. Pol Moya Betriu AND 1:47.44
8. Musa Hajdari KOS 1:48.96
Marco Arop and Amel Tuka were the most renowned runners in this heat. Both Arop and Andreas Kramer
like to run at the front, so it was no surprise that Arop and Kramer were leading at the bell in
51.59. Arop simply kept his pace throughout, but Kramer faded towards the end and Tuka and Gabriel
Tual worked their way past him to qualify for the semis.
1. Marco Arop CAN 1:45.26 Q
2. Amel Tuka BIH 1:45.48 Q
3. Gabriel Tual FRA 1:45.63 Q
4. Pablo Sánchez-Valladares ESP 1:46.06
5. Andreas Kramer SWE 1:46.44
6. Oliver Dustin GBR 1:46.94
7. Alex Beddoes COK 1:47.26
8. Francky Mbotto CAF 1:48.26
This heat featured Clayton Murphy and Brndon McBride as favorites. Halfway through the first lap
Chiengjiek unluckily clipped another runner and fell quite heavily. McBride took the lead and reached
the bell in a moderate 52.52. The group stayed really close together and bunched up until the final
straight, when Murphy weaved his way to the front while McBride faded badly and finished well out of
the qualification spots. Daniel Rowden and Abdessalem Ayouni took second and third. Charles Hunter was
just fast enough to qualify as well.
1. Clayton Murphy USA 1:45.53 Q
2. Daniel Rowden GBR 1:45.73 Q
3. Abdessalem Ayouni TUN 1:45.73 Q
4. Charles Hunter AUS 1:45.91 q
5. Saul Ordóñez ESP 1:45.98
6. Brandon McBride CAN 1:46.32
7. Melese Nberet ETH 1:47.80
8. James Nyang Chiengjiek SSD 2:02.04
Nijel Amos was the obvious favourite here, but Michael Saruni should qualify as well. It was former
World Champion Pierre-Ambroise Bosse who took the lead, followed by Adrian Ben and Amos. After 400m
they clocked 52.13. ON the back straight Saruni closed in, but it wasn't until the final straight
that the positions really changed. Amos eased into the lead and looked in excellent shape as he
jogged to the win. Saruni and Ben fnished safely in the top three. Jeff Riseley and Nabil Oussama
sprinted past Bosse, but since this was a fairly fast heat the top six all qualified. Although
it turned out Bosse eventually was just one hundredth of a second ahead of the next fastest loser.
1. Nijel Amos BOT 1:45.04 Q
2. Michael Saruni KEN 1:45.21 Q
3. Adrian Ben ESP 1:45.30 Q
4. Jeff Riseley AUS 1:45.41 q
5. Nabil Oussama MAR 1:45.64 q
6. Pierre-Ambroise Bosse FRA 1:45.97 q
7. Ryan Sanchez PUR 1:47.07
8. Thiago André BRA 1:47.75
In this heat without clear favorites no one really wanted to set the pace. Bunched up as they were Dennick Luke
tripped and was out of the race. Patryk Dobek found himself in the lead, but at the bell they clocked a modest
53.37, so it was clear just three would qualify. The pack stayed close until the final straight when Jesus
López and Elliott Crestan moved up to qualify. Dobek seemed to be out of it, but suddenly found an extra
gear and hung on for third.
1. Jesus López MEX 1:46.14 Q
2. Eliott Crestan BEL 1:46.19 Q
3. Patryk Dobek POL 1:46.59 Q
4. Mark English IRL 1:46.75
5. Benjamin Robert FRA 1:47.12
6. Eric Nzikwinkunda BDI 1:47.97
7. Andrés Arroyo PUR 1:53.09
8. Dennick Luke DMA 1:54.30
In this heat former World Championship medallist Ayanleh Souleyman did not start, which made the task for the
main favorites Emmanuel Korir and Bryce Hoppel a bit easier. Both qualified, together with Mateusz Borkowski.
1. Emmanuel Korir KEN 1:45.33 Q
2. Mateusz Borkowski POL 1:45.34 Q
3. Bryce Hoppel USA 1:45.64 Q
4. Mostafa Smaili MAR 1:46.05
5. Yassine Hathat ALG 1:46.20
6. Abubaker Haydar Abdalla QAT 1:47.45
7. Wesley Vázquez PUR 1:49.06