Max Burgin on path to stardom after obliterating rivals to win British 800m title

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Max Burgin of Halifax Harriers & AC reacts as he crosses the finish line to win the Mens 800m Final during the Muller UK Athletics Championships at Manchester Regional Arena on June 26, 2022 in Manchester, England. - GETTY IMAGES
Max Burgin of Halifax Harriers & AC reacts as he crosses the finish line to win the Mens 800m Final during the Muller UK Athletics Championships at Manchester Regional Arena on June 26, 2022 in Manchester, England. - GETTY IMAGES

Whisper it, for the comparison is entirely unfair to an athlete so young, but there might just be something reminiscent of David Rudisha about Max Burgin. There is one major difference though: the great Kenyan did not projectile vomit in public after every race.

Just like Rudisha when setting the 800 metres world record at the London Olympics, Burgin obliterated his rivals to claim the British title on Sunday in such stunning, fearless, front-running fashion that it is impossible not to be wowed by a man surely destined to be the country’s next great middle-distance star.

If that was not eye-catching enough, the 20-year-old Yorkshireman then promptly threw up midway through his post-race television interview on the infield. “I emptied the tank figuratively and literally,” he joked, having regained his composure some time later.

As the fastest man in the world this year, Burgin knew he had the speed to beat arguably the toughest field at these British Championships in Manchester, just like he knows he can do likewise at next month’s World Championships.

Yet with that weight of expectation resting on his shoulders, he still managed to produce the type of awe-inspiring performance that will make every 800m runner worldwide take notice, seizing control just 200m into the race and grinding his rivals into submission behind him. When Rudisha won his first Olympic title in 2012 he scarcely saw another athlete; neither did Burgin here.

Max Burgin of Halifax competes during the Men's 800 Metres Heat Three during Day Two of the Muller UK Athletics Championships at Manchester Regional Arena on June 25, 2022 in Manchester, England. - GETTY IMAGES
Max Burgin of Halifax competes during the Men's 800 Metres Heat Three during Day Two of the Muller UK Athletics Championships at Manchester Regional Arena on June 25, 2022 in Manchester, England. - GETTY IMAGES

His winning time of 1min 44.54sec was the quickest ever run on this Manchester track. Daniel Rowden claimed silver, with Kyle Langford closing fast for bronze.

“Everyone knew what I was going to do,” said Burgin, who has just finished the first year of a history degree at the University of Leeds. “The wind did throw into doubt whether front-running was the best idea but I stuck with the plan and it paid off.

“My times are up there with what the best are doing at the moment but World Championships are a different kettle of fish, what with three rounds and the speed with which the rounds are run. It will definitely be a different challenge but one that I will be looking forward to. I’ll go in with high hopes, high ambitions and see how far they take me.”

Those high hopes have been there for some time. Already holding European 800m records at Under-18 and Under-20 level, plus British 800m records at Under-15, Under-17 and Under-20 level, despite frequent injury problems, his world-leading 1:43.52 set a fortnight ago puts him behind only Seb Coe, Steve Cram and Peter Elliott in the senior all-time British rankings. Illustrious company that he seems destined to join.

Of his rather less dignified exploits after crossing the finish line, which caused the medal ceremony to be delayed, he joked: “I knew that was coming. That’s just me after every race. I put that much into it that I’m in a bit of a hole afterwards.

“That was quite a good day for me - it was only 10-15 minutes. I’ve been up to half an hour before I can start walking round again.”

Jemma Reekie declared her intention to go one better than her fourth-place finish at last year’s Olympics by making the women’s world 800m podium next month. Attempting to bounce back from “a rollercoaster season” that began by contracting glandular fever, Reekie won the British title in 2:06.03.

Jemma Reekie celebrates with her medal after winning the Women's 800m final during day three of the Muller UK Athletics Championships held at the Manchester Regional Arena. - PA
Jemma Reekie celebrates with her medal after winning the Women's 800m final during day three of the Muller UK Athletics Championships held at the Manchester Regional Arena. - PA

A year on from the heartache of losing his Olympic 4x100m silver medal, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake declared himself ready for “a second wind” in the sport after winning the British 200m title in 20.05sec - his fastest time since 2018.

Mitchell-Blake, Britain’s fourth-leg runner in Tokyo, received the baton in the lead only to be overhauled by the Italians in the closing strides. The British team was later stripped of its medal due to CJ Ujah’s positive drugs test.

“I don’t think you’ll ever get over it,” said Mitchell-Blake. “It’s something that will be there for life, but you have to find your best self and control your own destiny moving forward.

“It’s been a turbulent couple of years hampered by injuries. I’ve slowly become forgotten but I’ve made a couple of changes and I’m in the shape of my life.”

The same can be said for Daryll Neita, who followed up victory over Dina Asher-Smith in the 100m by claiming the British 200m title before declaring: “There are two of us now. I’m here to stay.”

With world champion Asher-Smith not contesting the longer sprint, Neita prevailed in 22.34sec, although she is not eligible for World Championships selection due to an illegally strong tailwind. Olympic bronze medalist Holly Bradshaw won the pole vault.

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