The 800m was a political hot potato all season, now, it is the upset of the meet. Stuart Weir reports.
The women’s 800m outcome was a surprise. Nick Willis on twitter had correctly predicted a Ugandan winner – but he choose the wrong Ugandan. Two Ugandans in the top four was something that few of us saw coming. Halimah Nakaayi finished first with Winnie Nanyondo fourth
Ajee’ Wilson looked the favorite, in the post Semenya era. Ajee likes to front-run and so she set off fast, maintaining the lead for much of the race. Natoya Goule (Jamaica) my outsider in my preview, initially looked as if she would be the main challenger, sitting behind or on Wilson’s shoulder. About 250 meters into the race Nakaayi tucked in behind the pair.
Wilson, who had gone through 400m in 57.94, led until the home straight when she started to struggle. Goule was going backwards too. With about 30 meters to go Nakaayi took the lead and held it to the end to win in 1:58.04, a national record. Raevyn Rogers (USA) had looked out of it on the final bend but she found an extra gear to pass several athletes on her way to second place in 1:58.18.
The winner commented: “I was feeling so good, I knew something special was going to happen tonight. So I just kept pushing and pushing. I was feeling strong and in the end I got it”.
Rogers said: “Silver means a lot to me. It’s been a hard year with lots of ups and downs mentally and in other ways so this is a great way to end”.
Ajee Wilson, third, two years ago, said: “I’ve got to feel good. I wanted to win, of course, and went off hard, but in the last part of the race I found it hard. At least I got a medal.”
Winnie Nanyondo, the second Ugandan, was fourth in 1:59.18. A few minutes later she joined her teammate for a celebratory dance. Former world champion Eunice Sum was fifth in 1:59.71 with Goule sixth in 2:00.11. The result is arguably the shock of the championships so far. Uganda never had a World Championships finalist in the women’s 800m, let alone a winner.
An exciting race with intrigue and in the end a surprise result.