By Amy Tennery
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A blistering 800 meters for Donavan Brazier punctuated a handful of season’s bests, as six-time Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix finished sixth in the 60-meters at the NYRR Millrose Games in New York City on Saturday.
The 1:44.22 win for the 22-year-old Brazier set a roaring start to the World Champion’s bid to make the U.S. Olympic roster, as Olympic gold medalist Ryan Crouser beat World Champion Joe Kovacs to a season’s best in the shot put and Great Britain’s Chris O’Hare won the men’s mile in another season’s best.
Before a roaring crowd at the Armory, Brazier lurked toward the back of the pack for the first 400 meters, then burst by his competitors for a dramatic finish.
“My coach kept telling me, ‘don’t go on the rabbit – put yourself in like fourth or fifth position, and just see where you can work from there,’” said Brazier. “I just tried to execute that as perfectly as possible.”
Felix, hoping to reach her fifth Games this year and compete in the 200 and 400 meters, struggled to get the power she needed in the 60-meter dash, not typically her strongest event.
The 34-year-old sprinter, who gave birth to daughter Camryn in November 2018, told reporters that she was looking forward to upcoming competitions.
“My daughter’s a huge motivation for me. It’s kind of shifted my motivation completely,” said Felix. “I want to show her that you can overcome adversity. I want to show her what hard work looks like.”
World indoor champion pole vaulter Sandi Morris sailed to a 4.91-meter win. Later, she told reporters she was inspired by a world record-breaking performance from men’s vaulter Swede Mondo Duplantis of 6.17 meters at the World Athletics Indoor Tour meeting in Torun in Poland.
“I’m so excited because I saw his attempt at it from his previous meet and he was so close – he had so much height – so I’m not surprised at all that he ended up breaking it the next week,” said Morris.
Ajee Wilson won the women’s 800 meters, running a subdued middle-of-the-pack race before exploding past the competition in the last 200 meters and finishing more than a full second ahead of second-place finisher Natoya Goule.
“Definitely coming off that second to last bend, I was just like, ‘I need to go for it,'” Wilson told reporters after the race, adding that variety in her training regimen helped prepare her mentally when she was behind some competitors.
“I felt comfortable, I wasn’t worried.”
American Elle Purrier, meanwhile, won the women’s mile and set the U.S. women’s indoor mile record, even though she did not know what the record even was before she started the race.
(Reporting By Amy Tennery, additional reporting by Gene Cherry; Editing by David Gregorio)