California Pilgrim Boris Berian Wins 800m Gold on Day Three of IAAF World Indoor Championships


Berian_BorisQ-Worlds16.JPgBoris Berian, photo by

Boris Berian scared the hell out of me.

His brilliant and fearless running, 23.9, 49.8 and 1:17 for the 200 meters, 400 meters and 600 meters were inspiring to see, but also for an old veteran of coaching, and track wars, he was on a suicide mission-unless he could pull it off.

He did pull it off! And in the end, US went gold and bronze as Eric Sowinski, inspired and not knowing of his team mates' plan in the final, caught a couple of athletes down the stretch.

That is racing sports fans.

And the column following, by Mark Winitz celebrates the racing on day 3 of the 2016 World Champs!

California Pilgrim Boris Berian Wins 800m Gold on
Day Three of IAAF World Indoor Championships
by Mark Winitz

March 19, 2016 - In 2014, Boris Berian, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo. who dropped out of Adams State University to pursue a middle distance running career on his own, moved to Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. to join the Big Bear Track Club. It was a fortuitous move. Now, Berian is the 2016 world indoor 800-meter champion and a potential 800m medal contender at the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio if he stays on track.

On the third day of the IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships in Portland, Ore. Berian registered an impressive men's 800m win, leading from start to finish to secure the gold medal.

Berian went to the lead early among the strong contenders in the final and never relinquished it, hitting splits of 23.92 (200m) and 49.73 (400m) before holding off his rivals on the last lap and concluding at 1:45.83. Antoine Gakeme of Burundi placed second in 1:46.65. Team USA's Eric Sowinski was third in 1:47.22.

"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's win produced Team USA's first gold in the event since 2003, and the first time for Americans to win two medals in the event at a single World Indoors. It was the USA's 100th gold medal in the history of the World Indoor Championships.

"I've got to definitely say a lot of that last part (of the race) was the crowd, cheering me on and screaming like crazy," the 23-year-old Berian explained to NBC Sports. "I just wanted to do my thing, lead the race, call it a day and see how strong I am and finish it up."

When asked to explain his progress as a Colorado Springs emigrant (to California) and world indoor champion, Berian responded "by working my 'A' off."

Berian is guided by Big Bear Track Club's Carlos Handler (who co-directs the club with his wife, Brenda Martinez) and also by former Adams State track and field coach, Joe Vigil, who also coaches Martinez.

Shortly after Berian's win, Martinez (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), the 2013 World Outdoor Championships bronze medalist at 800m, took the track for the women's 7-1/2-lap 1,500m final where she placed fifth for Team USA in 4:09.57. In a three-woman sprint home, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands won in 4:04.96, followed by a trio of Ethiopian women -- Dawin Seyaum, Gudaf Tsegay, and Axumawit Embaye -- ahead of Martinez. Competing largely off of strength and endurance work that she hopes to convert into 800m speed moving into the outdoor season, Martinez won the 1,500m at the U.S. Indoor Track & Field Championships a week ago in 4:08.37.

In additional Day 3 action among Californians:

In the women's shot put final, 2008 and 2012 Olympian Jillian Camarena-Williams (Woodland, Calif.), competing in her first IAAF World Championship event since maternity and back surgery, opened with a 18.17m/59-7.5. The mark held up as her best throw of the competition, placing her fifth overall. In a see-saw battle among the top women, Michelle Carter (Ovilla, Tex.) registered a huge 20.21m/66-3.75 final throw--a new indoor American record, breaking teammate Camarena-Williams' previous AR of 19.89m/65-3.25.

In the men's triple jump final, Chris Benard (Corona, Calif.) had a best jump of 16.15m/53-0 for 12th as the competition was won by Bin Dong of China with a leap of 17.33m/56-10.25.

In the heats of the men's 4x400m relay, Elvyonn Bailey (Riverside, Calif.) helped Team USA win the second heat in 3:05.4, advancing them to Sunday's final. Last weekend, at the U.S. Indoor Track and Field Championships, Bailey registered a personal indoor 400m record of 46.22 on the same track.

Stay tuned for more action among Californians on Sunday's final day of IAAF World Indoor Championships competition.

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