Clayton Murphy on Monday became the first American in 24 years to win a medal in the 800-meter after pulling off an unlikely bronze-medal finish.
Team USA hasn’t won an 800-meter medal since the 1992 games in Barcelona when Johnny Gray captured the bronze. In fact, the 21-year-old Murphy wasn’t alive when that happened!
While Gray won the medal after holding onto an early lead, Murphy took the opposite strategy, working his way through the crowd before making a strong finish.
Clayton Murphy makes strong finish
With nearly 250 meters left in the race, Murphy used a blistering kick to overtake Frenchman Pierre-Ambroise Bosse before securing a podium finish.
Murphy finished with a personal best lap of 1 minute and 42.93 seconds, behind Kenya’s world-record holder David Rudisha (1 minute and 42.15 seconds) and Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi (1 minute and 42.61 seconds).
After the race, Murphy admitted that he had a game plan. “There was a little bit of plan to get out hard and go after it. But there wasn’t a super deadset plan. It was just to have fun with it. I knew we were out fast. … I was just going to keep pushing, pushing, pushing.”
Boris Berian, the other American in the race, came in eighth with a time of 1 minute and 46.15 seconds.
The 800-meter race has been a major hurdle for Team USA to overcome. During the 2012 London Games, Duane Solomon and Nick Symmonds tried to end the drought but came in fourth and fifth respectively.
Murphy, who hails from the small town of Akron, Ohio, never dreamt of winning an Olympic medal. “I don’t know if (winning a medal) ever was a reality. The big goal I had was making the final. A medal for me was going to be icing on the cake.
“I just wanted to have fun with it, and enjoy the minute and 40-some seconds I was out on the track. You never know how many times you’re going to run in the Olympics. It’s super exciting,” added the 21-year-old sprinter.
Clayton Murphy capped off another great day for Team USA which continues to lead the Rio Olympics tally with a total of 75 medals (26 gold, 23 silver and 26 bronze).