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The biggest story on Day 4 at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials was not which athletes won their competitions, but rather which one lost.
Donavan Brazier, the nation’s first 800m World champion of either gender, failed to make the Olympic team and shocked the track and field community.
NBC commentator and four-time Olympic medalist Ato Boldon called it “the biggest upset of the Trials so far.”
Sanya Richards-Ross, a five-time medalist, added, “I’m in shock, a loss for words; if I was going to put money on anyone in this Trials, it would have been Donavan Brazier.”
Brazier was perhaps as close to a sure thing as there is in sports.
He won the 2019 World title, was the fastest man in the world in 2020 and holds both the outdoor and indoor American records.
On a night where Brazier was expected to secure his first Olympic berth, the 24-year-old instead finished last.
“I think I might’ve made a move a little too early,” Brazier told reporters. “I tried to get in a good position in the first 300, 350 meters, and I paid the price the last 200.”
He was in position to qualify through much of the first lap, eventually falling into fourth and then making a break to pass those in second and third.
But Isaiah Jewett, who won the NCAA title earlier this month for USC on the same Hayward Field track, continued pushing the pace and Brazier did not appreciate the gap he created.
The more experienced Brazier tried to pass again but had run out of gas and fell back to eighth. He said his lack of an official race plan entering the meet could be to blame.
“I’m sad, I’m very said,” Brazier said.
It was 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy, however, who was able to turn on the jets in those final meters and pass Jewett for the win.
Murphy’s time of 1:43.17 is the fastest in the world this year.
Jewett was second in a personal best time of 1:43.85, with Bryce Hoppel running a season’s best 1:44.14. The two will compete at their first Olympics in Tokyo.
“It’s obviously disappointing to not have Donavan, but we’re sporting a pretty great team,” Murphy offered.
Brazier also qualified to race the 1500m at Trials but said he will “probably not” compete at that distance. His focus this summer will now revolve around becoming 100 percent healthy.
Brazier said there were “some things bugging [him]” during the race, but that “there’s things champions overcome and I couldn’t overcome them, so obviously I’m not at that championship level that I need to be at.”
He has no concerns about his future in the event, though.
“I’m still gonna feel like I’m that man when I go into track meets, I’m still gonna feel like I’m the 800m champ, I’m still gonna feel like I’m the best 800m runner in the world, and today obviously I wasn’t,” Brazier said. “There were seven guys in front of me, but the guys that beat me can have their moment, and I’m happy for them. I’ll come back from this, I’ve been down worse before.”
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Donavan Brazier, America’s first 800m World champ, misses Olympic team originally appeared on NBCSports.com