Jamaica’s Natoya Goule Now a Global Challenger over 800m
Fresh off her July 13, 2018 impressive performance at the Rabat stop of the IAAF Diamond League, Jamaica’s 800-meter specialist Natoya Goule stepped up her game several notches for a Jamaica record in Monaco today (20), in a race against some of the most formidable names over the distance.
Among the line-up were South Africa’s Caster Semenya, the current world’s # 1 in the two-lap event and reigning Olympic and World champion; Ajee Wilson, USA’s 2018 women’s 800m outdoor champion; Margaret Wambui of Kenya; and the tenacious and consistent Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi. This was one of the few Diamond League races that had no pace-setters, leaving athletes to determine their own pace.
At the sound of the starters gun, the favorite Semenya went out with a blast as if she were going for a record. She ran the first 400m in a spirited time of 55 seconds. Niyonsaba and Wilson went with her, while Goule tucked herself in fourth position going into the final lap. With about 200 meters to go, Goule made her move and past both Wilson and Niyonsaba, creating a stir in the stadium as she started to close the gap on Semenya. Her bold move caused commentators to note the possibility of Semenya being beaten in the event for the first time in over a year. However, the South African was too strong and crossed the finish line in 1:54.90 for gold, Niyonsaba (1:55.96) got the better of Goule (1:56.15) close to the line for second. Goule’s third-place time broke the Jamaican record set less than two weeks before.
On June 30, Goule erased Kenia Sinclair’s Jamaica record of 1:57.88 with 1:57.69 for fifth place. Semenya won that race in 1:54.26, the fourth fastest women’s 800m time ever. The world record stands t 1:53.28.
The 27-year-old Goule had a stellar high school career in Jamaica and then held her own as a standout at South Plains Junior College, Louisiana State University (LSU), and Clemson University, all in the US. She seems to have changed her race strategy in 2018 and has been enjoying much success with the new approach. Her last four races have propelled her in the global spotlight as a challenger for the top spots.