MOSCOW (AFP) – Mohammed Aman was outmuscled and jostled, but belied his diminutive size to produce a devastating sprint and claim a first-ever medal of any colour for Ethiopia in the world 800m by winning gold on Tuesday.
The two-lap event had sadly been shorn of the sublime talents of the injured David Rudisha, the Kenyan who broke the world record in winning the Olympic title last year.
But, in his absence, Aman, the 19-year-old world indoor champion who has twice got the better of Rudisha, stepped into the void with some style.
The race was bunched for all but the final 200 metres, fancied American Duane Solomon bossing his way into the front as Frenchman Pierre-Ambroise Bosse almost sideswiped Aman coming out of the first corner run in lanes.
At the bell, American Nick Symmonds came racing through, Aman again muscled out of the way and then boxed in behind the leading American duo.
The field spread with 200m to go in the run-in to the home strait. Symmonds went wide around Solomon, but Aman worked to go wider and outsprinted the American to the line for victory in 1min 43.31sec.
Symmonds held on for silver in 1:43.55, with a fast-advancing Ayanleh Souleiman claiming bronze in 1:43.76, a first medal for Djibouti since Ahmed Salah won silver in the marathon in the 1991 Tokyo worlds.
Solomon, who finished fourth in the London Olympic final in a time that in all previous finals would have seen him win a medal, faded to sixth behind Poland's Marcin Lewandowski and fifth-place Briton Andrew Osagie.