A model of consistency and self-belief, Peter Bol looks every chance to win Australia’s first-ever 800m world championships medal in Eugene.
By his own admission, Bol was lucky to get through to the title race after finishing third and outside the automatic qualifying spots in the opening semi-final.
But having dodged a bullet and advanced as the second non-automatic qualifier, the Tokyo Olympics hero has the chance to re-set against a field which – reigning Olympic champ Emmanuel Korir aside – is light on for runners who have enjoyed major success in the past.
“Yesterday was just a bit of a bad race for Pete and that’s out of the way now so we can refresh for the final,” his coach Justin Rinaldi told AAP.
“He didn’t feel as though he had the same pop in the last 100 metres that he had in the heat.
“Sometimes that happens, you can have a slightly off day and that can be the difference between second and third.
“But he pulled up well after t he race so I think he’ll be fine.”
Rinaldi reckons Sudanese-born Canadian Marco Arop is the slight favourite in Saturday’s final (Sunday AEST) ahead of Algerian pair Djamel Sedjati and Slimane Moula.
Korir headlines a three-pronged Kenyan strike force.
Britain’s Max Burgin, the fastest 800m runner in the world this year, withdrew with injury before the event started, while Tokyo Games bronze medallist Patryk Dobek from Poland and reigning world champ Donovan Brazier from the US were eliminated in the opening round.
“The 800 has been pretty wide open for the last few years and there’s been no clear favourite,” Rinadi said.
“This is a wide-open final in my mind.”
Bol, 30, burst to prominence at last year’s Tokyo Olympics when he twice bettered the Australian record and then finished a gallant fourth in the final.
He has backed up superbly in 2022, again lowering the national mark to one minute 44.00 seconds and is now ranked No.3 in the world.
“Peter got quite a lot of media attention, his name was in the press and it could take your focus away from what you want to do,” Rinaldi added.
“But he’s turned up to training every day, done exactly the same things he’s done for the last five years, trained hard.
“He believes he belongs there now and he’s shown that throughout the Olympics and the races he’s done this year.”
Aside from one race in Birmingham when he had a minor injury concern, the super-consistent Bol has finished in the top two in every 800m race he has contested this year except for his semi in Eugene.
He is the first Australian man or woman to reach a world championship 800m final.