How Australian Runner Peter Bol Became A National Hero

Turn up the Pete.

How Australian Runner Peter Bol Became A National Hero

Peter Bol is an Australian athlete and middle-distance runner who had the eyes of the nation watching him during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when he made the final of the 800m track event. It was this achievement that caused many Australians to find out Peter’s backstory, and they found out he didn’t have the easiest upbringing.

Peter Bol Quick Facts

Name: Nagmeldin “Peter” Bol
Age: 28
DoB: 22 February 1994
Nationality: Sudanese
Height: 5 ft 10 in / 1.78m
Instagram: @pbol800 – 48.5k followers

Peter Bol Background

Peter Bol was born in Khartoum, Sudan – an area which is now known as South Sudan – in Northeast Africa. Peter and his family fled to Egypt when Peter was 4 years old. During the 1990s, Sudan was under the leadership of Omar al-Bashir, who in 1989, staged a military coup to overthrow the presiding democratic government.

Once his coup was successful, al Bashir introduced a totalitarian regime in Sudan (then known as the Republic of Sudan) and he continued to rule until 2019 when he was eventually overthrown. During al Bashir’s reign, he invited Osama bin Laden to the country, which saw the United States of America deem the country to be a state sponsor of terrorism.

Six years after fleeing to Egypt, Peter and his family migrated to Australia, initially arriving in Toowoomba, Queensland. Shortly after, the family moved to Perth, Western Australia. It has been previously claimed that Peter Bol and his family once lived in a refugee camp, but Bol insists this isn’t true.

Peter Bol Athletics Career

Image: @pbol800

Peter Bol attended St. Norbert college in Perth on a basketball scholarship and he graduated with a degree in construction management from Curtin University. However, one of his school teachers noticed his innate running ability and convinced him to pursue an athletics career.

He agreed, and at the age of 16, he joined an athletics club and settled on the 800m as the event he was going to make his own. In 2013, Peter Bol won the junior championships in the 800m, setting a new national record at the same time, with a time of 1:48.90. His times improved over the next couple of years, posting a sub-1:48 in 2014 and a sub-1:47 in 2015.

Showing clear talent and promise, Peter moved to Melbourne later in 2015 to train with his new coach, Justin Rinaldi and training partner Alex Rowe, himself one of the fastest male Australian athletes over 800m

Rio 2016 Olympics

Peter Bol eyed up the 2016 Rio Olympics but had to qualify first. He did so, after posting a 1:45.78 time in Germany (he needed a 1:45.80 to qualify) and made sure he secured his spot when he posted a 1:45.41 a month later in Belgium.

While making it to the Rio 2016 Olympics was a huge achievement for Peter Bol, he, unfortunately, didn’t make it past the heats, having finished sixth with a 1:49.36.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Upon his return to Australia after the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Peter Bol began posting some seriously quick times, and he became the fourth-fastest Australian ever over 800m with a time of 1:44.56.

Peter secured his place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (delayed due to Covid) with a time of 1:44.88, which he set in the Gold Coast in June 2021. Peter fared much better in the heats at the 2020 Olympics, finishing second and posting a national record at the same time, with a 1:44.13.

Peter Bol winning his Olympic semi-final. Image: @pbol800

Peter followed this up with a win in his semi-final in yet another Australian record time of 1:44.11, cementing his place in the 800m final and winning the support of the nation at the same time.

In the 800m final, Peter Bol was leading the pack until the very last bend, when his competitors found some extra energy and overtook, leaving Peter to finish in fourth place. However, it was the highest place finish for an Australian male in an individual track event since 1988.

Some 2.46 million Australians were tuned in on Channel 7 for Peter Bol’s 800m final but Peter didn’t let the pressure get to him, with Athletics Australia quoting him as saying “In simple terms, I was calm, focused, and having fun with it at the same time.”

Commonwealth Games 2022

Peter Bol will once again be running for Australia when he makes his Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham, England. He’s definitely going to be eyeing up a medal and hopes to become the first Australian to win the men’s 800m since Peter Bourke did so in 1982.

And that elusive Commonwealth Games medal is now a very real possibility after the Australian runner cruised his way into the 800m final, after winning in a time of 1:47.01 seconds.