Boris Berian wins the 800m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016
There is brave, and then there is reckless. In the men’s 800m final on Saturday night, the USA’s Boris Berian straddled the line between the two – charging through the first 400m in a blistering 49.73 seconds – but by the time he reached the finish, the end product was simply greatness.
The 23-year-old crossed the line in 1:45.83 to an eruption of celebration in the Oregon Convention Center, comfortably clear of Burundi’s Antoine Gakeme (1:46.65) and Erik Sowinski (1:47.22).
Reigning champion Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia had no answers this time around and finished fourth in 1:47.97, with Qatar’s Musaeb Abdulrahman Balla – who was severely hampered on the final bend – fifth in 1:48.31.
“My game plan was simple, get the lead and hang on,” said Berian. “It’s so exciting to have two Americans in the top three. It’s a huge accomplishment in front of our home crowd.”
Berian had suggested after Friday’s heats that he would run from the front in the final, preferring to utilise the strategy that carried him to success at the US Indoor Championships last weekend at the same venue. Few could have predicted, though, just how fast he would rip through the first lap, passing 200m in 23.92 seconds.
On the second lap, his rivals realised he was running an apparently kamikaze pace, and let him go clear. That was the last they would see of him. Berian passed 400m in splendid isolation in 49.73, but by the time he reached 600m in 1:17.37, he appeared to be faltering. However, with a deafening racket echoing around the arena, he found some extra reserves on the last lap and came home a convincing winner in the end ahead of Gakeme and Sowinski, who were pleased with their medals.
“I was going for gold, but it was hard,” said Gakeme. “I’m happy with the silver.”
Sowinski was equally content. “I can’t complain,” he said. “Boris won one heck of a race and I’m just happy that I could be there to represent.”
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF