By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2023 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
EUGENE, Ore., (Sept. 17) — The two 800-meter races at the 2023 Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., today, produced very fast times.
Athing Mu holds off Keely Hodgkinson
On the women’s side, the rematch between the three podium finishers from Budapest –Mary Moraa of Kenya (gold), Keely Hodgkinson of Great Britain (silver), and Athing Mu of the USA (bronze)– did not disappoint.
Pacemaker Kaylin Whitney blazed through 400m in 55.9 seconds with the main protagonists close behind. Hodgkinson was first to 600m (1:26.4), with Mu very close behind, but soon Moraa began to fade, and Jamaica’s Natoya Goule-Toppin moved into third place.
Down the homestretch, it was a classic head-to-head sprint between Hodgkinson on the inside and Mu on the outside. Mu took the lead with about 30 meters to go and broke the tape in a national record 1:54.97.
Hodgkinson set a new British record in second (1:55.19) and Goule-Toppin set a Jamaican record in third in 1:55.96. Moraa had to settle for fourth in 1:57.42.
Although Mu won the race and is entitled to the $30,000 in prize money, as a national “wild card” entry, she cannot be Wanda Diamond League champion. As such, the title went to Hodgkinson. It seemed not to matter to Mu.
“I felt really new and refreshed, and I’m just happy,” Mu said in her flash quotes interview. “I wasn’t even hoping for the American Record, I was just hoping for a PR, but I knew I could do something fast if I could just relax and compete.”
Keely Hodgkinson, who beat Mu in Budapest to collect the silver medal, was also happy with her race.
“I’m actually really proud of myself,” said the easygoing 21-year-old. “I’m happy, a national record and a huge PB, so it’s a really good way to end the season.”
Marco Arop chased down by Emmanuel Wanyonyi
In the men’s two-lap race, reigning world champion Marco Arop of Canada had a one-step lead over Budapest silver medalist Emmanuel Wanyonyi of Kenya, who is just 19.
Arop, who loves to race from the front, led out of the final bend but Wanyonyi caught him with about 40 meters to go. The Kenyan powered to the finish in a world-leading 1:42.80. Arop set a national record in second place, posting a time of 1:42.85.
When asked about his race, Wanyonyi simply said: “I tried my best.”
With today’s meeting the 2023 Wanda Diamond League and the global track season came to a close on a truly high note. Pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis, who jumped a world record 6.23m today, said that finishing the season at Hayward Field was just perfect.
The Wanda Diamond League Final had never been held in Eugene.
“I’m two for two right now on world records coming here to Hayward,” Duplantis said. “I think it’s just a combination of everything; it has absolutely everything.
“It has the history, it has the modern touch. The track is really fast, the crowd and energy is fantastic. Everything just building up to what I need to be able to break world record.”