By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
EUGENE, Oregon —— Athing Mu fought off a fierce homestretch challenge from Great Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson to become the first American woman to win a world 800m title at the World Athletics Championships 2022 here at Hayward Field on the final day of competition in Oregon.
In addition, she became just the third woman after Maria Mutola of Mozambique (2000/2001) and Caster Semenya of South Africa (2016/2017) to win an Olympic 800m title and come back the following year to win a World Athletics 800m crown. Read more: Tobi Amusan sets stunning 12.12 secs 100m hurdles world record
Exciting Battle Between Mu and Hodgkinson
Although Athing Mu and Keely Hodgkinson repeated their one-two finish from the Tokyo Olympics last August, tonight’s race was completely different. In Tokyo, Mu scooted away at the gun, split halfway in 57.82 alone, then came back even faster in the second half –a rarity in 800m running– to win in a then USA record 1:55.21. Hodgkinson was 67/100ths of a second back, a relatively big gap at this high level.
But on Sunday night, Mu ran behind Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji for the first 400m in 57.09. She took over the lead after the bell and had an appreciable lead over Hodgkinson at 600m, 1:26.79 to 1:27.12. It was clear who the top two women were, but in which order?
How Did Athing Mu win?
Out of the final bend and into the homestretch Hodgkinson was running in lane one just off of the American’s left shoulder who had drifted out. Mu could be seen digging for every ounce of energy she had, but she could not shake Hodgkinson. At the line Mu only had 8/100ths of a second over Hodgkinson, 1:56.30 to 1:56.38.
“Golly, I was just happy it was over,” Mu told reporters when asked how she was feeling at the end of the race. She continued: “Today was kind of a rough day for me. I’m just glad I could make it to the line, finish the race. Thank God I won gold.”
Even in the moment, Hodgkinson could appreciate what she had accomplished. She had shown Mu that she will have a formidable rival for years to come; both athletes are only 20 years old.
“I’m satisfied but not overjoyed,” Hodgkinson said. “I’m a little disappointed that I missed out on gold by 0.08 which is tiny margins that I’ve worked so hard to close but I’ll take the positives.” She added; “I’ve closed the gap, I’m getting closer.
” I’ve got a lot of respect for these athletes, particularly Athing. She’s competing in front of a home crowd as Olympic champion, so there was a lot of pressure for a 20-year-old. But I’ll take the silver and assess it.”
Watch Video Highlights – Women’s 800m Final
The bronze medal went to Kenya’s Mary Moraa in 1:56.71, a personal best. Before last season, Moraa had been a 400m runner (she actually ran a national record 50.84 last month).
“I am so happy to perform like this today and of course, to win a medal,” Moraa said. “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.”
At the end of tonight’s competition, the United States had won 33 total medals (13 gold). It was the country’s highest medal total at a World Athletics Championships beating the 30 the team earned in London in 2017, and the highest total of any nation in the history of these championships. However, it was not their highest gold medal total.
In 2005, 2007, and 2019 the USA earned 14 golds. Ethiopia was second in the medal table with 10 total medals (4 gold).
The 2023 World Athletics Championships will be held in Budapest from August 19 – 27.
WOMEN’S 800 METERS FINAL RESULTS – DAY 10
|1||USA||Athing MU||1:56.30 WL|
|2||GBR||Keely HODGKINSON||1:56.38 SB|
|3||KEN||Mary MORAA||1:56.71 PB|
|4||ETH||Diribe WELTEJI||1:57.02 PB|
|5||JAM||Natoya GOULE||1:57.90 SB|