Unusual tactic costs Amos a podium finish

A calf injury has also been cited as a pre-final worry

BONGANI MALUNGA

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Nijel Amos entered the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games as the hot favourite to win a gold medal or, at the very least, get a podium finish in the men’s 800m category. The 800m IAAF Diamond League champion finished eighth in the men’s 800m final at the Commonwealth Games, his lowest ever finish in a major tournament.
Amos had lived up to his billing as the favourite by comfortably sailing through the heats, he recorded the fastest time in qualifying (1:45.12) as he finished in pole position ahead of the final. On the Friday held final Amos took off and assumed the leading position in the race, he had been the pace setter for the first 600m of the race but started to fade in the final 200m of the race as, gradually, all racers outpaced him as he finished last.
Setting an early pace limited Amos’ ability to accelerate his pace in the last and most important part of the race, it appeared he had exhausted all of his energy in the early stage of the race. Amos’ last minute decline was unexpected in the sense that none of his competitors were ranked above him and had as many international accolades as he did. Amos sprinted earlier than expected and he could not maintain the same pace as his legs began to tire.
His tactic for the final was rather unusual as he did the opposite of what he usually does in major races. Amos is accustomed to starting at a steady pace while keeping himself in touching distance of the pace setter. His key strength is his strong finish as his energetic stride towards the final 200 and 100m part of the race usually gives him an edge over other competitors.
Four years ago, Amos produced arguably his greatest race as he outpaced perennial rival David Rudisha at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games to win a gold medal. In the 2014 men’s 800m final, Amos started the race at a reasonably steady pace, he kept in touch with Rudisha who was the front runner. A burst of acceleration in the last 100m of the race saw Amos beat Rudisha to the gold medal.
Earlier this month Amos used the same tactic to win the 800m event at the 2018 Stanford Invitational in the USA (April 2). The Marobela native started the race as the second best pace setter and remained second for the first 400m part of the race, he gradually accelerated and assumed first position in the race in the final 200m of the race as he recorded the second fastest time of 800m races this year  (1:44.65) which was also a tournament record at the Stanford Invitational.
The athlete also revealed, on social media, that he had been carrying a calf injury which he sustained during the 800m heats. The injury, according to Amos, prevented him from performing well in the final and it appears he aggravated it towards the end of the race. Amos could have created a moment of history if he had won the final, he would have been the first 800m athlete to win back to back gold medals in the competition.