By Mitch Phillips
EUGENE, Ore. (Reuters) -American Olympic champion Athing Mu added the world 800 metres title to her resume on Sunday as the 20-year-old showed experience beyond her years to cleverly squeeze out Briton Keely Hodgkinson in a breathless neck-and-neck finish.
Mu took up the running with 300m to go but Hodgkinson, also second behind her in the Tokyo Olympics, went with her and when the American drifted slightly wide on the inside lane coming into the home straight the Briton, also 20, half-squeezed into the gap and looked set to go past.
Mu though, fairly and gradually, eased back across and kept her shoulder and pumping elbow in front of her rival, shutting the door to take the tape in one minute, 56.30 seconds, with Hodgkinson second in 1:56.38.
Kenya’s Mary Moraa won the battle for bronze in a personal best of 1:56.71, edging Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji who also ran her best time of 1:57.02.
“It was a fast competition and I love competing against other fast women, said Mu, who completed a day to remember by collecting the inaugural championships team trophy for the United States from World Athletics head Seb Coe.
“I really just wanted to be consistent this year and to continue with the wins that I have been having. Today, it was a little bit harder but it was very nice to do it at home – 1,000 percent. The crowd is amazing.”
Hodgkinson said she thought she could get past Mu in the last 100m.
“I went to the inside, but the gap wasn’t there. I ran to the line, gave it everything and I am happy with world silver,” she added. “I got so close, but it is what it is and I am proud to have given myself a chance out there.
“Athing is a great athlete. We are both 20 and have many years ahead of us and we’ll meet on a world podium again.”
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Peter Rutherford)