Quartet of Fantastico Middle Distance Events Closes Out World Indoors

WORLD INDOORS ENDS WITH FOUR FANTASTIC MIDDLE DISTANCE FINALSBy David Monti, @d9monti(c) 2024 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved



GLASGOW  — The 19th World Athletics Indoor Championships concluded here tonight at Emirates Arena with four exciting middle distance finals.  While three medal favorites prevailed –American Bryce Hoppel in the men’s 800m and Ethiopians Tsige Duguma and Freweyni Hailu in the women’s 800m and 1500m, respectively– one winner produced a shocking upset, New Zealand’s Geordie Beamish in the 1500m.  Here is how the races unfolded.








 Tsige Duguma of Ethiopia after winning the 800m at the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships (Photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)






The men’s 800m came first, and the race played out perfectly for Hoppel, the reigning USA champion.  The former Kansas Jayhawk managed to avoid most of the pushing and shoving which defined the race, including the rough tactics of France’s Benjamin Robert who was ultimately disqualified.  Hoppel was behind Belgium’s Eliott Crestan with one lap to go, drafted him going into the final bend, then passed him with relative ease in the homestretch to win in a world-leading 1:44.92.






Bryce Hoppel of the USA winning the 800m at the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships (Photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)







“I was just able to make the race go exactly how I wanted it,” Hoppel said, beaming with pride.  “I made it happen out there, finally.”  He added: “It feels just unreal.  It’s so special to have that moment.  I’m just happy to bring it back to the people that have been around me and have gotten me to this.”






Crestan, who made the race, would not get the silver medal, however.  Sweden’s Andreas Kramer, who was in fourth position on the backstretch, finished his long drive for home by passing Crestan to get the silver, 1:45.27 to 1:45.32.  Italy’s Catalin Tecuceanu, who was stuck in traffic for much of the race, got fourth in 1:46.39.  Defending champion, Mariano Garcia of Spain, finished fifth.






For the women’s four-lap race all eyes were on Scotswoman Jemma Reekie.  She and Duguma ran together at the front for most of the race, but the pace was slow –only 63.4 seconds through 400 meters– and the rest of the field remained close behind.  In fact, at the bell Duguma, Reekie, and Ethiopian Habitam Hailu were running three across.  Reekie wasn’t happy with her position.






“I made some big mistakes in that race, but lesson learned,” Reekie told reporters.






Duguma shot ahead on the backstretch, and simply overwhelmed Reekie with her finishing speed.  Duguma, who only switched to the 800m from the 400m last year, won in 2:01.90 with Reekie getting the silver in 2:02.72 and Benin’s Noelie Yarigo collecting the bronze in 2:03.15.






“It’s not good enough,” Reekie said good-naturedly of her silver medal.  “It’s not good enough for me, but I’ve got to take that as my first medal.”






But Duguma was thrilled.  She became the first Ethiopian woman to win the world indoor 800m title.






“This race was really amazing and it is hard for me to find proper words,” she told the event’s flash quotes team.  “The tactics I used was just like – push it forward and that is why I was able to come on the first place.”






The men’s 1500m featured a 14-man field because two athletes, Adam Fogg of Great Britain and Biniam Mehary of Ethiopia, were advanced by officials after getting caught in tripping incidents.  With such a big group on the track, there was bound to be some pushing and shoving.







“I was back there like in a boxing match,” said American Cole Hocker.  “I was getting pulled all sorts of directions.”






 Geordie Beamish of New Zealand on his way to winning the 1500m at the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships (Photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)








Hocker’s teammate Hobbs Kessler was worried about getting stuck in traffic so he chose to run at or near the front for the opening laps.  The reigning World Athletics road mile champion led through 800m (1:57.2) and had Kenya’s Vincent Kibet Keter and Ethiopia’s Samuel Tefera –the event’s two-time defending champion– with him.






Kessler was still on the front with two laps to go, but Beamish was way back in tenth place.  He was trying to stay patient.






“They didn’t get that far away from me and I thought a medal, any medal, was a possibility,” Beamish told Race Results Weekly.  “We watched Yared (Nuguse) go from fifth to second last night and I thought I back myself against anyone in the world over the last 100 meters.”






Indeed, that’s where Beamish made his move.  With 100 meters to go he was in sixth position.  Ahead of him Kessler was leading Portugal’s Isaac Nader, Hocker, and Norway’s Narve Gilje Nordas.  Beamish started his kick, came around the outside of Hocker at the top of the homestretch, and rocketed to the finish line out in lane three to take the gold.  He only moved into the lead with about ten meters to go.






“With like five meters to go, all the medals were in the same spot,” said Beamish, who ran a personal best 3:36.54.  “I just nabbed the first one.”






Kessler, who had the inside lane, started his lean about two meters from the finish, but Hocker kept sprinting and just passed his teammate to take silver in 3:36.69, a scant 3/100ths of a second ahead of Kessler.






“It’s just how a race like that goes,” said Hocker.  “It’s right in your grasp.  It’s a world silver, regardless of how you slice it.”






Kessler has now earned two medals in two world championships in a span of five months.  He was pleased with his bronze medal.






“I really hope that it really solidifies me as one of the best in the world and best in the U.S., up there with Cole and Yared,” Kessler said.  “Great runners.  I think we can really do some damage this year.”






In the women’s 1500m, the final race of these championships, the American team also played a prominent role.  Emily Mackay, who trains with newly-crowned 3000m world champion Elle St. Pierre, made the most important move of the race. She burst into the lead with two laps to go, breaking the race wide open.  She was chased by the Ethiopian duo of Freweyni Hailu and Diribe Welteji, and also her teammate Nikki Hiltz, the reigning USA indoor and outdoor champion.  Mackay’s move caught Hiltz off guard.






 Freweyni Hailu of Ethiopia winning the 1500m at the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships (Photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)









“I thought she miscounted laps because it was such a big move,” Hiltz told Race Results Weekly.  “Then I was like, of course she’s going to do that.  She’s got a great kick and I think she’s a strength kicker, too.  She can kick from far out.”






Hailu reeled in Mackay on the backstretch and scooted to the gold medal in 4:01.46.






“I am happy to achieve this result and it is just an outcome of our hard work,” Hailu said.






Mackay was still ahead of Hiltz with 100 meters to go, but the former Arkansas Razorback powered past her teammate to get the silver medal in a personal best 4:02.32.







“I’m glad I had another gear,” said Hiltz, adding, “I’m in shock still.”







Mackay, who pronounces her name “Meh-KIGH,” was thrilled with her first global medal in what was only her first global championships.  She said that training with St. Pierre had not only made her strong, but had given her a lot of confidence.






“My teammate, Elle, her performance last night was so inspiring to me, just watching her get that gold medal,” Mackay said.  She continued: “It was so inspiring for me because I train with her every day.  Just working together with her just makes me strong and confident.  I’m so thankful for that.”






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