Canada’s Marco Arop foxed his rivals with a radical change of tactics and then poured on the pace to win a brilliant 800 metres World Championship gold on Saturday.
Normally a front runner, he kept his huge frame out of the picture, right at the back, through the first lap and, while the rest of the field were wondering, swept straight to the front at the bell and surged clear.
Arop, the bronze medallist last year, kept his foot down to win comfortably in 1:44.24.
Kenya’s Emmanuel Wanyonyi took silver in 1:44.53 while 21-year-old Ben Pattison continued Britain’s great middle distance form at the championships as he held off Spain’s Adrian Ben to claim a surprise bronze in 1:44.83.
“This means everything to me. I’m so glad to finally be able to do this on the world stage,” said Arop, who was born in Sudan and forced by the civil war to flee with his family of eight when he was two years old.
“After bronze in Eugene I just concentrated on making progress, step by step, each year trying to become better than I was the year before. Now it’s going to be hard to beat a gold medal - I’ll just have to repeat it, I guess.”
Addressing his change of tactics, he added: “I don’t want to be known as the guy who can only run one way. I tried to be patient tonight and put myself in a position where I could attack. I knew it was going to be a tactical race.
“I was up late last night figuring different ways to win. One scenario was to kick from behind in the way I did. I guess it was worth staying up late.”
It was an impressive performance by Pattison, who belied his lack of top-level experience by clinging on determinedly to the inside of the inside lane and finding enough acceleration coming off the final bend to stay clear of the chasing pack.
“Before the race my coach told me I could race to win or race for a medal. I said I wanted to win,” said Pattison, who was the second-slowest coming into the nine-man final field.
“I don’t care if I come fourth or eighth, no-one remembers that. Top three is what it’s all about and I’ve just managed that
“One of the last people I saw today before I got on the bus was (new 1500m champion and fellow Briton) Josh Kerr. Before I could even say well done to him, he said well done to me.
“This is just crazy, that a great champion like him comes to me like that. This whole experience is really insane.”
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