The Men’s 800m starts today. Isaiah Harris is in the event, having taken second behind Bryce Hoppel in the USATF  800m; watch his progress. Thanks to Deji for this intriguing story. 

Isaiah Harris: From NCAA Champion to World Championships Contender 

When Isaiah Harris made his first World Championship appearance in London in 2017 at the age of 19, the Lewistown, ME, native has since come unstuck in his quest to qualify for major championships, missing out on World Championship qualification in Doha in 2019 and the Olympic trials in 2021. However, since teaming up with the Brooks Beast in 2022, he has qualified for this year’s world championships in Budapest and has set his sights on winning a medal in the event 

From his victorious days as an NCAA champion in 2018 to his present quest for global glory, Harris’ journey is one of transformation, dedication, and the pursuit of excellence. As the World Championships in Budapest draw near, all eyes are on this remarkable athlete, who aims to cement his name on the international stage.

The Genesis of a Champion: NCAA Triumph and Beyond

Isaiah Harris’ story is one of a young athlete’s meteoric rise, propelled by innate talent and a relentless work ethic. His ascension to the spotlight began during his collegiate years when he represented Penn State University. It was in the midst of intense NCAA competition that Harris announced his arrival as a formidable force in middle-distance running. In 2018, he clinched the coveted NCAA title in the 800m with a then-lifetime best of 1:44.76.

Isaiah Harris, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, July 6-10, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris

While his NCAA triumph was a monumental milestone, it merely served as a stepping stone for Harris’ ambition. Armed with the momentum of his victory, he made the leap to professional competition. The transition from collegiate to professional racing is a formidable challenge, demanding a recalibration of training, mindset, and approach. Yet, for Harris, it was an opportunity to carve his legacy on an even grander scale.

The Pursuit of Global Glory: World Championship Qualification

Harris’s journey to the World Championships in Budapest is a narrative of determination and resilience. His qualification for the global stage underscores his unwavering commitment to his craft. The 800m stands as an actual test of an athlete’s capabilities, demanding not just raw speed but tactical finesse and the ability to endure the grueling pace.

In 2022, Harris took his 1:44.42 personal best for 800m and 3:42.63 personal best for 1,500m to the Brooks Beasts to train with Coach Danny Mackey. Since then, he’s put the disappointment of missing out on the last two major championships behind him. 

Isaiah Harris, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, July 6-10, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris

Having started his outdoor season in May with a 1:46.93s run at the Track Festival, he was able to lower his time as the season wore on, putting him in prime shape ahead of the United States outdoor championships. He followed it up with another 1:45.11 running at the New York Grand Prix before going to place second at the US trials with 1:46.68s. 

Budapest Beckons: A Potential Medal Contender

As the World Championships in Budapest approach, Harris emerges as a potential medal contender in the 800m. His journey from a victorious NCAA champion to a professional athlete with global aspirations has been a testament to his resolve. While the road to a medal is fraught with challenges, Harris’ consistent improvement and unyielding dedication position him as a formidable adversary on the track.

After his qualification to the worlds, Harris alluded that Mackey has a way of building him up for the worlds, which had potentially put him in the right frame to medal. 

Isaiah Harris, 2023 USATF Champs 800m, photo by Kevin Morris

“The way Danny coaches us is fine, and we usually don’t put up amazing times in January, but when we hit July and August, the times usually drop fast.” Consistency is everything, and if we can stay healthy, I know we will drop fast times.”

The World Championships offers Harris a platform to etch his name in the annals of athletic history. With each stride, he carries the dreams of a nation and the weight of his own aspirations. While the competition will be fierce, Harris’ journey has imbued him with the resilience and fortitude required to navigate the intricacies of high-stakes racing. Budapest becomes a destination and a battleground where he will unleash his potential and vie for global recognition.

Isaiah Harris, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, July 6-10, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris.

Currently ranked 17th in the men’s 800m, Harris will come up against formidable candidates over the distance in Budapest. Kenya’s Emmanuel Korir secured gold at the event in Oregon, while Algeria’s Djamel Sedjati and Canada’s Marco Arop earned silver and bronze. Korir’s teammate, Emmanuel Wanyonyi, clinched fourth place. 

The Men’s 800 meters is truly an open event; few athletes have put their stamp on the event in 2023. Isaiah Harris sees that as a great opportunity.

Regardless of whatever happens, Harris knows he has an opportunity to etch a name for himself, and Budapest presents him with that chance.