'What just happened': Athletics world stunned by 'shocking' moment

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Donavan Brazier, pictured here finishing last in the 800m at the US Olympic trials.
Donavan Brazier finished last in the 800m at the US Olympic trials. Image: NBC

The athletics world was left in disbelief on Monday as 800m world champion Donavan Brazier finished last at the US Olympic trials.

Brazier suffered a sensational upset at the US Olympic track and field trials in Oregon as Clayton Murphy won the 800m final.

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The 2016 Olympic bronze medallist, Murphy produced a devastating finish to power to victory, overtaking Isaiah Jewett in the home stretch in a world-leading time of 1min 43.17sec.

Jewett, a student at the University of Southern California, finished second with a personal best of 1:43.85 to book his ticket to Tokyo, while Bryce Hoppel finished third in 1:44.14.

But it was Brazier's performance that provided the biggest shock of the trials so far.

The 24-year-old, who won gold at the 2019 world championships, had been looking to atone for his disappointing showing at the 2016 Olympic trials when he surprisingly bombed out in the opening round.

He had looked comfortable during Saturday's semi-finals, easily qualifying in second place from his heat behind Murphy.

In Monday's final he looked well-positioned heading into the final 200m, but was unable to find an extra gear as Murphy passed him and the front-runners pulled away down the stretch.

Clayton Murphy, pictured here celebrates his victory in the 800m at the US Olympic trials.
Clayton Murphy celebrates his victory in the 800m at the US Olympic trials. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Brazier later said he had miscalculated his race, pushing too hard on the opening lap and leaving himself critically short of power in the closing stages.

"I think I might have made a move a little too early and tried to get in a better position in the first 300-350 and paid the price in the last 200," Brazier said.

"I'm very sad. I knew with about 200 left when Clayton passed me and I couldn't match it."

Brazier said that while he had faced some fitness issues heading into trials, his failure to qualify was down to running a sub-standard race.

"I'm having some things bugging me, but they're things that someone of championship calibre should be able to push through and nothing that I can make excuses for this race," he said.

"I just ran pretty shitty. But I'll come back from this. I've been down worse before."

Fans and commentators were also left in shock.

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Jenny Simpson also bombs out

Brazier's shocker wasn't the only one of the day, with fellow track champion Jenny Simpson also bombing out.

The former world champion finished 10th in the 1500 meters, well behind winner Elle Purrier St. Pierre.

“It's hard to believe,” she said. "I think what will be shocking will be watching the Olympics on TV."

Simpson, who took bronze in Rio to become the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in the 1500m, was done almost before she started. 

There was heavy jostling at the start that knocked five or six runners off stride.

“No one went down,” she said. “Maybe they should have called the race back. That was extreme.”

In the men's triple jump, two-time Olympic silver medallist Will Claye - competing in the absence of injured Olympic champion Christian Taylor - won with a leap of 17.21m.

And in the men's pole-vault, another reigning world champion in Sam Kendricks suffered a rare defeat. 

Kendricks, the 2017 and 2019 world championships gold medallist, finished second behind Chris Nilsen.

with agencies

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