NJ's Ajee' Wilson Wins Gold In 800 At World Championships


After so many near misses at gold on the global stage, New Jersey native Ajee' Wilson finally grabbed that elusive gold medal when she used a powerful surge over the final 400 to pull away and win the women's 800-meter run in 1:59.09 at the World Indoor Championships on Sunday in Belgrade, Serbia.

Wilson, who graduated from Neptune's Academy of Allied Health and Science in 2012, usually wins her races by going to the lead quickly and dictating the pace, but this time she used a different tactic, and she executed it to perfection.   

Sitting in fourth place with about 225 meters to go, Wilson swung wide and began her decisive move just before the start of the bell lap as she jumped to the front. Then she just poured it and pulled away on the backstretch as Wilson hammered out a 29.55 final 200 to secure her first gold medal on the world stage. Wilson won by nearly a second and half over Freweyni Hailu of Ethiopia, who earned the silver in 2:00.54. Halimah Nakaayi of Uganda, the reigning World Outdoor 800 champ, earned the bronze in 2:00.66. 

The 27-year-old Wilson, a two-time Olympian, has been the face of the women's 800 in the U.S. for the last decade. She came agonizingly close winning gold on the global stage on several occasions in the past. Wilson was second at the World Indoor Championships in both 2016 and 2018, and third at the World Outdoor Championships in 2017 and 2019, and in 2017, she earned a bronze medal in the 800 at the Olympic Games in Rio.     

Wilson, who lives in Philadelphia,  qualified for the World Championships by winning her sixth straight U.S. national indoor title last month. That was the 12th national title of her career (indoors and outdoors combined).

In other NJ highlights at the World Championships, several members of NJ's remarkable Class of 2014, had great performances.

Josette Norris (Tenfaly High-Class of 2014) ran tough and finished a strong fifth in the women's 1,500 in 4:04.71. American triple jump record holder Keturah Orji, a 2014 Mount Olive High grad, finished fifth in the triple jump with a mark of 14.42 meters. Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela won the triple jump with a leap of 15.74 meters, an All Conditions World Record!!! 

Olivia Baker, who graduated from Columbia High in 2014), ran 2:02.25 to place sixth in in her heat of the 800 and failed to advance.      

On the men's side, Josh Awotunde (Delsea High-Class of 2013) threw 71-2.25 to place fifth in the shot put.