It’s fair to say the men’s 800 has upset the form book at Istanbul 2012, but normalcy was restored when the favourite, Mohammed Aman took the gold medal in one minute 48.36 seconds.
Mind you, an upset had looked a possibility again when the field sauntered through the first lap in 29.29 seconds. This, it must be said, was largely Aman’s doing – he burst to the front in the back-straight, then immediately slowed.
But if the final was about to turn into a slow-paced kicker’s race, Adam Kszczot had other ideas. The fastest man in the world this season, the Pole swept around the field to take the lead at the end of the first lap.
As they came off the bend to complete the second lap – this time a more respectable 27.00 – Kszczot led Aman, the Czech Republic’s Jakub Holusa and Michael Rutt (USA) in single file. Andrew Osagie (GBR) and Jan Van Den Broeck (BEL) brought up the rear, but were still in contact.
Kszczot was now faced with the task of keeping the pace going, and going faster. He sped through the third lap in 26.27, still in front, but with Aman poised to strike.
The strain was clearly showing on Kszczot and Aman made his strike down the back straight. The 18-year-old Ethiopian made his move and was already celebrating his gold medal half-way up the finishing straight, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Holusa was charging home behind him. In the end, Aman’s judgement was vindicated as he still have almost three metres to spare at the line.
Holusa, who has been one of the surprises in a surprising event, took the silver in 1:48.62.
Behind him, though, the drama was building as Osagie charged through from the back to close on the tiring Kszczot. The Pole valiantly raised another effort but, ultimately, to no avail. Osagie grabbed the bronze medal almost on the line, 1:48.92 to 1:49.16.
Niether Van Den Broeck nor Rutt could pull another surprise out of their pockets. The pair finished tailed off in 1:50.83 and 1:51.47, respectively.
Aman, who turned 18 in January, was silver medallist at the World Youth Championships last year, and eighth in the final at the Daegu World Championships before really making a mark when he defeated World champion David Rudisha in Rudisha’s last race of the season, snapping a two-year winning streak by the Kenyan.
Despite Kszczot having the world lead coming into Istanbul, Aman had assumed the mantle of favourite when he beat the Pole into fifth place in Birmingham, running his own season’s best of 1:45.40.
He is definitely taking giant steps along the road to London 2012.
Len Johnson for the IAAF