Like Us On Facebook
Facebook Pagelike Widget
May 24, 2017

Nobody’s been better at the Pre Classic than Maria Mutola

I’m going to guess that maybe a chunk of our readership has never heard of Maria Mutola.

Citius fans seem to skew younger, trendier, meme-literate, with tremendous purchasing power (advertisers, hello); and while they’re hungry for track news, commentary, and history, they don’t always know about what came before them. Track’s oral history is scantily passed along, it seems, and as such, should-be-legends like Mutola tend to be reduced to alliterative names at the top of World Championships results pages.

Well read on dear reader, and learn of perhaps the most dominant middle-distance athlete of all time.

Pre Classic dominance

For starters–and most relevant to this week’s Pre Classic theme–Maria Mutola won an event at the Pacific Northwest’s own Diamond League meet 16 times, 12 of those victories coming in the 800m:

  • 1992    Mutola………………….. 1:58.67
  • 1993    Mutola………………….. 2:32.57  (1,000m)
  • 1994    Mutola………………….. 2:33.33 (1,000m)
  • 1995    Mutola………………….. 2:32.33  (1,000m)
  • 1996    Mutola………………….. 4:06.86  (1,500m)
  • 1997    Mutola………………….. 1:57.57 
  • 1998    Mutola………………….. 1:58.66
  • 1999    Mutola………………….. 2:00.30
  • 2000   Mutola………………….. 1:57.65
  • 2001    Mutola………………….. 1:58.90
  • 2003    Mutola………………….. 1:57.98
  • 2004    Mutola………………….. 1:57.78
  • 2005    Mutola………………….. 1:59.95
  • 2006    Mutola………………….. 1:58.86
  • 2007    Mutola………………….. 1:58.33
  • 2008    Mutola………………….. 1:59.24

Additional, perhaps more big-time dominance

  • Ran under 2:00.00 in the 800m 18 years in a row (1991-2008).
  • Ended her career with PBs of: 51.37 (400m); 1:22.87 (600m); 1:55.19 (800m); 2:29.34 (1,000m); 4:01.50 (1,500m)
  • Won the 800m at the 2000 Sydney Olympics
  • Won three outdoor World Titles in the 800m (1993, 2001, 2003)
  • Won seven indoor World Titles in the 800m (1993, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006)

And her story was pretty interesting too, times aside

Mutola was born and largely raised in the Southeastern African nation of Mozambique, where she played organized soccer with boys and was better than many of them. These early displays of athletic promise drew the attention of famed Mozambican poet Jose Craveirinha, who was also a major proponent of the nation’s sports scene. Craveirinha saw to it that Mutola was eventual transferred to a Springfield (Oregon) high school, where she met the coaches who would guide her for the rest of her career and had access to superier facilities and general athletic infrastructure.

She wound up relocating to South Africa in the early 1990s but was still coached by the coach that she met in Springfield. That’s where she really hit her stride and became the world-beater that struck fear into half-milers the world over. And she has coached Caster Semenya.

So here’s to Maria Mutola, who probably has a faster 800m personal best than you, and has certainly won more Prefontaine Classic titles than you as well! Tell your friends. Inform your elderly relatives. Tweet about it. Let’s do a better job as a bunch of nerds of preserving the historical performances of our extremely niche sport!

Scroll to top