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He may not have won a medal, but Peter Bol certainly won the hearts of Australia with his inspirational display at the Tokyo Olympics.
The 27-year-old gave himself every chance to win the 800m on Wednesday night with a brave display of front-running, only to come up just short and finish fourth.
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The Sudanese-born Aussie surged into the lead with 450 metres to run, only to be mowed down by the two-pronged Kenyan challenge of Emmanuel Korir and Ferguson Rotich in the final straight.
The bronze went to Poland's Patryk Dobek, with Bol hanging tough to finish fourth in a brilliant time of 1:45.92.
Bol was clearly gutted to miss a medal after winning his semi-final, but his post-race comments showed his absolute class and captivated Australians watching on TV.
"The goal was to win so we didn't get the job done," said Bol, who was born in Sudan and spent six years in Egypt as a youngster before arriving in Australia with his family as a 10-year-old.
"But I'm proud of where we are, we're here and the best part of this is that it has not been a journey just about myself, but having the whole nation behind me.
"That's power in sports and we did that tonight.
"It was tough because you know some of those guys have got better PBs than me.
"I felt strength from the whole nation behind me. I'm disappointed with fourth at the Olympics.
"Five years ago I ran 1:49 and got knocked out in the first round. But we want more for ourselves.
"To Australia I’m thankful, and to everyone in Australia because we’re just human at the end of the day. We inspired the whole nation and that’s the goal.”
Australia erupts over inspirational Peter Bol
Legendary commentator Bruce McAvaney summed up the thoughts of the nation, saying “we are all so proud of him.”
“For a fleeting moment on the turn, I thought Peter might be able to hold on to a medal. He has run magnificently,” he said on Channel 7.
“There was a maturity beyond his experience, not beyond his years but beyond his experience.
“The fairytale didn’t quite happen, but boy oh boy it was a beautiful read for just about the whole of the journey.
“This is the bit I love just as much. He can’t win the medal, but he wants to finish fourth.
"He wants to get the highest placing possible. That’s the pride of a champion. We saw one tonight.”
Fans flocked to social media to praise Bol for his gutsy display and post-race interview.
He’s totally spent, and then Peter Bol wins the quote of the Olympics from an Australian (shading Kaylee)
“To Australia I’m thankful, and to everyone in Australia because we’re just human at the end of the day. We inspired the whole nation and that’s the goal.”
You fkn legend.
— Adam Peacock (@adampeacock3) August 4, 2021
Such an awesome run to watch! Everyone thrilled to see you represent yourself, your country and family so magnificently! Well done!
— TomRehn9 (@tomrehn9) August 4, 2021
— Jess Fox OLY (@jessfoxcanoe) August 4, 2021
— Sean Marshall (@scmarshall85) August 4, 2021
@pbol800 You don't need to be grateful or thankful to Australia.
It's Australia who should thank you. You put in the hard work.
And you do inspire.
And thank you to the Sudanese community in Australia to being part of the nation.
You are Sudanese, and you are Australian.
— Jason - "G'day!" 🦖🇦🇺 (@GDayJason) August 4, 2021
The humility in the man is unbelievable. You showed amazing effort as an athlete but should how genuinely kind & humble you are as a human. You are someone I want my kids to look upto. Thank You.
— Laura McDiarmid (@laurajmcdiarmid) August 4, 2021
Makes you proud to be an Australian when you have people like this representing our country. What a legend
— jake (@jaketh14) August 4, 2021
Absolute legend! Lots of sports persons could take a leaf from this guy’s book on being gracious no matter where you finish. #Tokyo2020
— WhyTheFaceDude (@WhyTheFaceDude) August 4, 2021
Bol was bidding to become the first Australian man to win an individual Olympic medal on the track since Rick Mitchell took silver in the 400m at the 1980 Moscow Games.
Australia's most recent Olympic male track gold medallist was Ralph Doubell, who won the 800m in 1968 in Mexico City.
Watch 'Mind Games', the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:
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