Last week, we said Donavan Brazier’s story best illustrated the do-or-die nature of the trials. Five years ago, in 2016, Brazier won the N.C.A.A. 800-meter title in 1 minute 43.55 seconds, the second-fastest time in the world that year. A few weeks later, he failed to qualify for the Rio Games.
So he approached this year’s trials with the hope of changing that narrative. And he was expected to do so. The question wasn’t if Brazier would qualify — it was who would come in second and third place.
Instead, he suffered a devastating upset, leaving spectators, athletes and members of the news media in shock.
“What happened to the champion?” a broadcaster asked as the 24-year-old crossed the finish line in last place in the finals.
The reigning world champion was once again denied his chance at the Olympic Games in one of the most notable upsets of the trials.
Clayton Murphy, the 2016 Olympics bronze medalist, won the event in 1:43.17, followed by the N.C.A.A. champion Isaiah Jewett and Bryce Hoppel.
In interviews after the race, Brazier did his best to hold his head up. One off day can be just that, he said.
“I’m still going to feel like I’m the best 800-meter runner in the world when I go into meets,” he said. “Today, just, I obviously wasn’t.”
Here are some more notable performances from Eugene:
Erriyon Knighton: The 17-year-old Knighton pointed at the clock as he flew through a 200-meter semi-final heat in first place. He beat Noah Lyles, again. His time in the first heat, 20.04, broke the high school record that Lyles set at the 2016 U.S. track and field Olympic trials. Lyles learned his record had fallen while both he and Knighton were participating in a news conference: “Hey Erriyon, you broke my record, bro,” he shouted across the room. In a separate video, Knighton is seen learning that he beat Lyles’s record: “I did? What was it?” he said, cheering.
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