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Olympian Duane Solomon earns USATF Athlete of the Week honors

INDIANAPOLIS -- Olympian Duane Solomon earns USA Track & Field Athlete of the Week honors after regaining the top 800-meter time for 2014 with his finish at the IAAF International World Challenge in Melbourne, Australia, March 22.

“There are so many great athletes that run for Team USA,” said Solomon. “To be singled out is a great honor because it lets me know that I’m being watched and that people recognize me and the hard work I have put in. It feels great to be acknowledged."

Solomon (Los Angeles) initially set the year’s top mark March 15, when he ran 1:45.95 at Sydney Track Classic. He slipped to No. 2 after Brazil's Kleberson Davide ran 1:45.30 March 16 at the South American Games, but Solomon reclaimed the top spot, leading the the IWC field in Melbourne to a 1:45.17. He now holds two of the top three 800m finishes for 2014, and he still has room to improve. 

“Melbourne was different for me because I was more acclimated,” said Solomon. “I was able to sleep during the night and I felt good during training. My body felt like it was ready to race, and I knew that I wanted to run a decent time.

“When we came through the first lap, I felt really good and comfortable. After the rabbit veered off, I basically just picked it up every 50 meters, and I knew that I had the race already won. I just tried to maintain what I had and run all the way through the line.”

Despite setting and maintaining the world’s current pace for the 800m, Solomon not only wants to remain at the top; he also hopes break the record. Solomon set a PR when he ran 1:42.82, placing fourth the London 2012 Olympic Games and putting himself second all-time in U.S. history behind Johnny Gray, his coach.

“For the past two years, we have been trying to get the mark,” he said, “but we’ve had obligations to make teams, so it’s been hard to single out the American record. Now that there are not any other World teams to make this year, we want to take this time to really work towards getting a new American record. That’s the big goal we have this year.”

Prior to 2013 Solomon had claimed a pair of USA Indoor titles along with USA Outdoor and USA Indoor runner-up finishes. He also claimed the NACAC U23 title in the 800m when he was just a sophomore in 2006.

Solomon will compete next at Mt. SAC before preparing for IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas.

2014 Winners: January 15, Chris Derrick; January 22, Galen Rupp; January 29, Galen Rupp; February 5, Alexa Efraimson; February 12, Mike Rutt; Feb. 19, Bernard Lagat; Feb. 26, Sharon Day-Monroe; March 3, David Torrence; March 13, Francena McCorory; March 19, Irene Obera; March 26, Duane Solomon.

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