Kenowa Hills grad Donavan Brazier wins world title

Donavan Brazier crossing finish line

Donavan Brazier, of the U.S., celebrates winning the the men’s 800 meter final at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

DOHA, Qatar (AP/WOOD) — Less than 24 hours after distance running coach Alberto Salazar was banned for doping offenses, an athlete from his training camp won gold in the 800 meters.

American Donavan Brazier took command of the field at the halfway point and built a comfortable lead to win in a championship-record 1 minute 42.34 seconds, ahead of Amel Tuka of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The 22-year-old Brazier also broke the 34-year-old U.S record of 1:42.60, set by Johnny Gray in 1985 at a meet in then-West Germany.

“I’ve said this all season, I never really go for times. But to finally hit a fast time means a lot. To get the win and the American record means the world to me. I feel good. I look up to my idol Muhammad Ali, and he won his first world championship at 22 years old. I feel great right now,” said the Kenowa Hills graduate.

Kenya’s Ferguson turned up the heat on the final stretch to take bronze.

Salazar was banned four years for violations including possessing and trafficking testosterone, in a case related to his Nike Oregon Project stable of athletes. Brazier has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Brazier credited one of Salazar’s assistant coaches, Pete Julian, for his win, which came after he failed to make the final in 2017.

“Being able to collect myself and gather myself, and be coached by Pete Julian this year, it’s really paid off,” he said. He didn’t mention Salazar in a brief post-race interview.

Donavan Brazier squatting with flag on his back
Donavan Brazier, of the U.S., celebrates winning the the men’s 800 meter final at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Salazar’s credentials for the world championships have been revoked and he is banned from the stadium.

Another of Salazar’s athletes, Clayton Murphy, was eighth.

The Salazar ban overshadowed an otherwise triumphant night for the U.S. as Noah Lyles won the 200 and Sam Kendricks defended his pole vault title.

Lyles ran 19.83 to beat Andre de Grasse and prolong the Canadian’s wait for a gold medal at a major championships. Lyles, a 22-year-old who grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, is the youngest man to win the 200-meter world title.

“My coach said ‘Let’s light it up,’ and I said ‘I’ve been waiting all year to hear those words,'” Lyles said. “So it was really just letting it all go, coming out here and just giving it everything I have left. This was the end of the season, my last race, and this is all I have left.”

Lyles’ win sets up an intriguing potential U.S. rivalry with Christian Coleman, who decided not to run the 200 after winning the 100 meters here. Both men may try for the double at the Olympics in Tokyo next summer.

Kendricks, a 2nd Lt. in the Army Reserve, defeated Armand Duplantis after both cleared 5.97 meters, the best height at a world championships since 2001. They failed their attempts at 6.02.

Kendricks took the title because he had fewer failures at lower heights, four compared to five for Duplantis. It was an SEC rivalry on the world stage, as Kendricks competed at the University of Mississippi and Duplantis, who represents Sweden but was raised in Louisiana, won the 2019 NCAA championship at Louisiana State University.

Olympic champion Thiago Braz of Brazil settled for fifth on 5.70, and world record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France missed the final altogether after being eliminated in qualifying.

Kelsey-Lee Barber became the first Australian to win a world javelin title, overtaking two Chinese athletes with a 66.56-meter final throw. Liu Shiying was second and Lyu Huihui third. Barber dropped to the ground in shock when her result was shown on the big screen.

Wednesday’s action includes the women’s 200-meter final, the men’s 110-meter hurdles and men’s hammer throw.

— News 8 web staff contributed to this report.

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