Canada's Marco Arop cruises into 800m final at World Athletics Championships

·2 min read
Canada's Marco Arop, middle, seen in a previous event at the 2022 World Athletics Championships, qualified to the 800-metre final by finishing second in Thursday's semifinal in Eugene, Ore. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images - image credit)
Canada's Marco Arop, middle, seen in a previous event at the 2022 World Athletics Championships, qualified to the 800-metre final by finishing second in Thursday's semifinal in Eugene, Ore. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images - image credit)

What a difference a year has made for Canada's Marco Arop.

At the Tokyo Olympics last summer, Arop sputtered down the stretch in his semifinal and failed to qualify for the final.

As disappointing as that moment was for Arop, he's used it as fuel over the past year.

And on Thursday night at the world championships in Eugene, Ore., Arop learned from his past mistakes, earning him a spot in Saturday's 800-metre final.

"Everything is coming together at the right time," Arop told CBC Sports after the race.

"I was happy with it."

WATCH l Arop through to 800m final at athletics worlds:

He was tactically brilliant throughout the first part of the race, staying in the middle of the pack before making his move with about 300 metres left.

His 6-foot-4 frame gracefully powered past the runners to the front of the pack, putting him in an ideal position to close out the race.

Arop was passed just at the line but was in control throughout, locking up second spot in his semifinal heat and earning a direct qualifying spot in the final in a time of 1:45.12.

"I knew I had a clear path to the finish and I had a feeling someone was coming," he said after the race.

"It's been a great first two rounds but if I can't get it done in the final I won't feel like I completed anything."

Arop seemed relaxed as he was introduced to the crowd for Thursday night's semifinal. As the announcer said his name and the camera got into his face, Arop started shadow boxing and then kissed the maple leaf on his uniform.

He seems to be more comfortable and confident than ever.

The 23-year-old from Edmonton posted the world's third fastest time of the year at the beginning of July.

In May, he won the Birmingham Diamond League event.

"It definitely was a confidence builder to win in Birmingham just because it sort of reinforces and confirms that if I trust my instincts in a race, if I go out and not worry too much about the outcome and just allow it to play itself out, good things will happen. And that's exactly what happened there," he said.

WATCH l Breaking down what sets Marco Arop apart from the pack:

That's what Arop has been focusing on over the past year. For the longest time his strategy has been to get out front and stay out front.

But after Tokyo, he's changed the way he runs and it's paying off, now with one last race to go at the world championships.

"I feel great. It's so much better when I'm not forcing things and letting the race come to me," he said.

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