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Donavan Brazier upset in Trials 800m final, misses Olympics

EUGENE, OREGON - JUNE 21: Donavan Brazier reacts after the Men's 800 Meters Final during day four of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 21, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
EUGENE, OREGON - JUNE 21: Donavan Brazier reacts after the Men's 800 Meters Final during day four of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 21, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Donavan Brazier, reigning world champion at 800m, finished last on Monday in the event's final at the U.S. Trials in Eugene, Oregon, missing his second straight Olympic team.

The American record-holder was in second place through 400m but fell apart in the final 200m, finishing eighth in 1:47.88. He was 19th overall at the 2016 Trials.

Clayton Murphy, bronze medalist at the 2016 Rio Games, won in a world-lead 1:43.17, followed by 2021 NCAA champion Isaiah Jewett (1:43.85) and Bryce Hoppel (1:44.14), fourth-place finisher at the 2019 World Championships. The 26-year-old defended his Trials title from 2016, claimed by clocking 1:44.76.

Tokyo will be Murphy's second Games appearance, while Jewett and Hoppel both make their first Olympic teams.

It's been nearly a half-century since the U.S. won an Olympic gold medal in the men’s 800m. Dave Wottle last captured the title at the 1972 Munich Games.

SEE MORE: Rio 2016: David Rudisha defends 800m gold, USA's Murphy 3rd

Jewett took the field out, splitting 25.25 at 200m, 50.60 at 400m and 1:15.66 at 1200m. He led for all but 50m of the race before being passed by Murphy, who broke 25 seconds in his third 200m and negative-split the 400s.

Brazier's splits through 1200m – 25.50, 25.50 and 25.59 – were as close to perfect as one can get, but he closed in a uncharacteristic 31.30.

"I think I might've made a move a little too early, and try to get in better position that first 300 to 350 [meters] … paid the price last 200 [meters]," Brazier said after the race. "I think without about 200 [meters] left I knew, I tried matching Clayton's kick when he passed me and couldn't match it, and there were just seven people that were better than me today."

Brazier (1:45.00), Brannon Kidder (1:45.06) and Isaiah Harris (1:45.25) were Friday's top first-round qualifiers; and Hoppel (1:46.00), Harris (1:46.16) and Jewett (1:46.18) were Saturday's top semifinal qualifiers.

SEE MORE: Brazier re-watches record-breaking 800m win from Doha 2019

Going into Trials, Brazier had yet to run sub-1:45 outdoors this season with only a single 800m race under his belt from May, and a 1500m in late April on the same Hayward Field track.

He had also been unbeaten on U.S. soil in fully completed outdoor 800m races since the semifinals of the 2017 U.S. Championships, at which he went on to win the title. He didn't finish a race last July in Portland, Oregon.

Murphy dealt Brazier that first competitive domestic outdoor loss in four years from the slow section of Saturday's semifinals. The two entered Sunday's final with the fifth- and seventh-best semifinal times.

SEE MORE: 2019 Worlds: Brazier blitzes in historic 800m win

Asked whether he was healthy, Brazier said he wasn't 100% headed into the competition but left no room for excuses.

"I have the best strength coach, I have the best massage therapist, I have the best coach, I have the best supporting staff group I could ask for it," he said. "So if I can't make it with them, and I can't overcome tweaks and things like that, then I can't do it with anyone.

"I literally have the best of everything going into this meet. I think that's why it makes it so hard, cause it's not only I failed myself but I failed a supporting cast of five, 15 people on it, it sucks."

The Grand Rapids, Michigan, native said he didn't enter Monday's final with any particular race plan.

"I've been able to win from the front, I've been able to win from the back, so I don't know if it was just over-confidence going into the race thinking I can do whatever the hell I want and come out successful but maybe the lack of race plan is what got me."

SEE MORE: Brazier tops his own U.S. indoor 800m record

Brazier is also entered in the 1500m, the rounds for which begin Thursday, but when asked after Monday's final if he planned to lace up, he first said he was unsure, then said, "probably not."

One thing's for sure: Brazier will be back.

"The guys that beat me, they can have their moment, and I'm happy for them, but I'll come back from this," Brazier said. "I've been down worse before."