EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon Track Club Elite’s Nijel Amos unleashed a strong kick to win the 800-meter crown at the 2018 African Athletics Championships in Asaba, Nigeria on August 3. The 24-year-old native of Botswana held off world leader Emmanuel Korir, of Kenya, over the final 150 meters for a winning time of 1 minute, 45.20 seconds.
Amos also won the African 800m crown in 2014 and 2016.
“To be able to defend my title is a great feeling,” Amos said.
The men’s 800m final was billed as one of the most anticipated races of this year’s African Championships – and it didn’t disappoint. Amos and Korir, who stand as the No. 3 and No. 6 all-time performers in the 800m, came into the meet with the two fastest times in the world this year.
Korir clocked his lifetime best of 1:42.05 in London last month, just two days after Amos won the Diamond League meeting in Monaco at 1:42.14, his best performance since winning silver at the 2012 Olympics.
In the final in Nigeria, Amos was in lane three, with a clear view of Korir in lane seven.
The field was bunched together after the first lap, with Kenya’s Jonathan Kitilit leading Amos by a step at the bell. Korir was a half-meter back on the outside. Amos made his move on the backstretch with 250 meters to go, hoping to run the kick out of Korir’s legs.
The strategy paid off.
Korir gave chase through the final curve, but a determined Amos held on for the victory, spreading his arms wide in celebration at the tape. Korir finished second in 1:45.65 and Morocco’s Mostafa Smaili took third in 1:45.90.
“Nijel did a good job of staying patient and positioning himself where he wanted to be,” OTC Elite coach Mark Rowland said. “He went hard from 150 to sprint to his third African title. It felt good to get a win in a championship race and show that we’re progressing nicely from last season.”
The victory also secures Amos a spot in the Continental Cup, Sept. 8-9, in Ostrava, Czech Republic. He will represent the continent of Africa as he attempts to defend his 800m title. The Continental Cup is a global athletics competition featuring four teams: Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe and the Americas. It is contested every four years.
“It’s fantastic to be able to represent our beautiful continent again,” Amos said. “I’m going there hoping to make it happen again.”