Donavan Brazier not making excuses after another setback

EUGENE, Ore. — Donavan Brazier didn’t want to hear it.

Brazier didn’t want to hear about the injury that will require surgery next week.

The 2019 World 800-meter champion didn’t want to hear any talk about a Hayward Field curse.

He didn’t want to hear about a lack of races.

Brazier, arguably the most gifted half-miler of his generation, didn’t want to hear any excuses for his failure to make it out of the first round of the World Championships 800 competition on Wednesday night at Hayward Field.

Brazier was a non-qualifying sixth in his heat, running 1 minute, 46.72 seconds, well off the American record-setting 1:42.34 he ran to win the 2019 World title in Doha.

“My expectations were very high,” Brazier said. “I didn’t expect to go out there and do that but I did. And I guess that’s just the reality check for me and where I need to be next year indoors and next year outdoors.

“But 2022 is a wrap for me.”

Brazier, 25, will undergo surgery next week to repair a heel injury that has plagued him through the past two seasons.

“There are plenty of athletes who have gone through way worse and I have performed better than I just did so by no means can I make the excuse for my performance out there,” he said. “I’m not where I need to be.”

But for much of Wednesday’s race, he was. So, Brazier was asked, what went wrong?

“That’s the scary part is nothing,” he said. “I was on the rail the entire time. I was able to hug the shoulder of Peter Bol and the Spaniard and they finished in the top three (to automatically advance) and I didn’t. So just a lack of fitness, a lack of confidence, just a lack of focus and being there.

“Yeah, that’s it.”

Wednesday’s elimination was Brazier’s latest debacle at Hayward Field.

Brazier made his college debut for Texas A&M in January 2016 by breaking the American indoor junior (Under 19) record with a 1:45.55 record. Brazier won the NCAA outdoor title that June in 1:43.55, setting the collegiate record and knocking nearly a second off of Jim Ryun’s 1966 American junior record, and then promptly turned pro, signing a high-profile contract with Nike. But he failed to make it out of the first round at the Olympic Trials

Brazier entered 2021 not only as the favorite to win the first U.S. 800 gold medal since Dave Wottle in 1972 but to also possibly threaten David Rudisha of Kenya’s world record of 1:40.91.

But again he unraveled in Tracktown U.S.A., fading to eighth and last in the final 200 meters of the Olympic Trials final.

“Really bad timing I guess, right?” Brazier said.

A year later Brazier’s timing isn’t any better.

“I mean it’s really hard,” he said. “To go from best in the world to where next week I’ll be on crutches. It (expletive) sucks. It really sucks. But I think other than that I could really compete, at least make it to the final and if you make it to the final, of course, anything can happen. But I didn’t allow myself to get that opportunity.”

Again Brazier declined to hide behind his injuries.

“It makes me feel like an injury-prone athlete, that I keep having surgery after surgery you know,” he said  “And I keep saying ‘once I do this, I’ll be good. Once I do that, I’ll be good.’ I haven’t been good in three years, you know, and that’s a real, a real bad reality check for me.

“I don’t want to be that one-and-done runner. … I want to be the Allyson Felixes and the Dalilah Muhammads, all the legendary athletes, the Galen Rupps. I’m doing a poor job of that right now.”

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