Brenda Martinez gets historic 800 bronze at world track championships

Brenda Martinez celebrates after earning a bronze medal in the women's 800-meter final at the world track championships Sunday in Moscow.
(Ivan Sekretarev / Associated Press)

Brenda Martinez of Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday became the first American woman to win a medal in the 800 at the world track and field championships, using a late kick to finish third at the Luzhniki Stadium track in Moscow on the final day of competition.

According to USA Track and Field, the UC Riverside alumna was eighth at 200 meters and seventh at 400 meters but managed to find her way through traffic to make another of her late pushes toward the finish line. Martinez, who trains in Big Bear and is coached by Joe Vigil, finished in a personal-best 1 minute, 57.91 seconds, behind Eunice Sum of Kenya (1:57.38) and Mariya Savinova of Russia (1:57.80).

Alysia Johnson Montano, the five-time U.S. champion in the 800, was the early leader and was timed in 56.06 seconds at the 400-meter mark. However, she finished fourth in 1:57.95. Ajee Wilson of Neptune, N.J., finished sixth in 1:58.21, an American junior record.

Martinez, who talked about her medal hopes here before the competition, said she was jittery before her race on Sunday.

“I had to really calm my nerves. I knew it was probably the biggest race of my life,” Martinez told USA Track and Field’s website.


“I just wanted to give everything I had. Again I had to go by 58 [seconds] and stay relaxed. On that last turn I really had to dig deep. I saw everyone around me. I knew that last 100, I had to give it everything I had.”

U.S. athletes won five medals on Sunday for a total of 25 in the competition, comprised of six gold, 14 silver, and five bronze.

Matt Centrowitz of Portland, Ore., won a silver medal in the 1,500, one step up the podium from his finish in the London Olympics. He made a move on the final straightaway to grab second in 3:36.78, behind repeat champion Asbel Kiprop of Kenya (3:36.28) and just ahead of Johan Cronje of South Africa (3:36.83).

Will Claye of Gainesville, Fla., won the bronze medal in the triple jump with a leap of 57 feet, 5 3/4 inches (17.52 meters).

The U.S. men’s 400-meter relay team finished second to the Usain Bolt-led Jamaicans. Justin Gatlin anchored the U.S. quartet, which finished in 37.66 seconds, behind Jamaica’s 37.36. Canada took third after Great Britain was disqualified.

The U.S. women’s 400-meter relay, minus the injured Allyson Felix (torn hamstring) and Carmelita Jeter (quadriceps), rallied to take a medal on Sunday. Octavious Freeman ran a strong final leg that moved the quartet up from seventh to third, and the group was elevated to second later, after France was disqualified. Jeneba Tarmoh, Alexandria Anderson, and English Gardner ran the first three legs. Jamaica won in a world championships-record time of 41.29 seconds, with the U.S. second in 42.75 and Great Britain and Northern Ireland third in 42.87.

Here’s a link to results and race reports on the website of the International Assn. of Athletics Federations, the governing body of track and field.


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