In an incredible start to the track and field leg of the Tokyo Games, runner Nagmeldin ‘Peter’ Bol has become the first Australian man in *53* years to make it to the 800 metre final at the Olympic Games. Fifty three years.
Bol is the first Australian to compete in the 800 metre final since Aussie Ralph Doubell took gold at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. And not only did Bol make it to the final, he also topped his semi-final run, setting a new Aussie and Oceania record with a time of 1.44.11.
“I put myself in the best position to qualify,” the 27-year-old told reporters after his race.
“Even if I didn’t, I would have been happy with it.”
Born in Sudan, Bol and his family fled civil war when he was just four years old. They lived in Egypt for four years before immigrating to Australia. At first, the family settled in Townsville, before moving to Perth.
And then Bol found athletics when he was 16.
“Shortly after an athletics school carnival one of my teachers, Helen Leahy approached me and convinced me to join an athletics club promising to help me find a mentor, a club and a coach,” Bol explained, as per his Athletics Australia bio.
“I thought it was a pretty good deal especially because it meant I’d be fitter for basketball so I agreed and she delivered.”
Within just a couple of years, Bol won the national junior 800m title in 2013. He then moved to Melbourne in 2015 to be coached by Justin Rinaldi and train with fellow track and field athlete Alex Rowe.
And it’s only been onwards and upwards from there.
You can catch Peter Bol’s highly anticipated race in the 800 metre Olympic final tonight on Channel 7. The starter’s gun is set to sound at 10:05pm AEST but I’d tune a little earlier just in case!
Alternatively, head to the 7Plus app for literally every other sport at the Games. There are replays and highlights there too, if you just want to relive Emma McKeon‘s seven-medal win at Tokyo.