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Dramatic finish leads to heartbreak in women’s 800m at U.S. Olympic trials

The women's 800m at the U.S. Olympic trials was a heartbreaker for some athletes, including Alysia Montaño, after a late-race tumble (photo: Randy Miyazaki / @TaFphoto).

Alysia Montaño

The women’s 800m at the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore. on Monday had a dramatic finish as runners jostled for position with 150 metres to go resulting in a fall. Six-time U.S. outdoor 800m champion Alysia Montaño, a pre-race favourite, went down and was overcome with emotion after leading much of the race.

Full race video

Montaño dropped to her knees on multiple occasions while battling to finish the race despite being out of contention after the fall. The opportunity to qualify for the Olympics only comes once every four years and many runners train full-time in hopes of making the team.

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Only the top three runners from the race with the Olympic qualifying standard make it to Rio. Brenda Martinez, the 800m bronze medallist at the 2013 world championships, also got tripped up but did not fall to the ground. She faded to seventh.

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Runners often jostle for position in the two-lap race as there is little room for error and things typically get bunched entering the final straightaway. Race officials reviewed footage of the race for possible disqualification but it was deemed that any contact was incidental.

When asked whether Montano wanted to file a protest, she said “what good would that do me?” She’s run 1:57 for the 800m and is well-known as the “running mom” for racing at the U.S. championships in 2014 while eight months pregnant.

Kate Grace, who was unscathed by the fall at the 650-metre mark, won the event in 1:59.10 ahead of Ajee Wilson and Chrishuna Williams, all of who qualified for the U.S. Olympic team.

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Martinez has the chance to make the U.S. Olympic team in the 1,500m following her heartbreaking result in the 800m final on Monday. Montaño, though, is an 800m specialist and won’t be contesting any other events meaning her bid for a Rio 2016 spot was unsuccessful.

The U.S. Olympic trials continue until July 10. Canada’s Olympic trials begin on July 7 in Edmonton and Canadian Running will be on scene for the event.