Former Refugee Joseph Deng Breaks 50-Year-Old Record For 800m Sprint

Joseph Deng set the new record Saturday morning.

One of Australia's oldest athletics records has been broken after former refugee Joseph Deng ran the nation's fastest-ever 800m at the Diamond League athletics meet in Monaco.

While the 20-year-old finished seventh in the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) meet, he finished with a time of 1:44.21, scraping past the previous Australian record by one fifth of a second.

The previous Australian record of 1:44.40 was set by gold medalist Ralph Doubell at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

It was equaled by Alex Rowe in Monaco 46 years later, but never beaten until Deng's effort overnight.

Speaking after the race, Deng said if "felt great" to be the new record holder.

"I knew it was going to be fast so my coach and I talked about it and he said just stick in fifth or sixth position and you'll go through pretty quick," said Deng, who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp to a South Sudanese mother.

"It feels great because the guy that was equal to the record, he ran down here four years ago as part of our training squad, so yeah it feels great to have the record now.

"I knew it was going to be fast so my coach and I talked about it and he said 'just stick in fifth or sixth position and you'll go through pretty quick'.

"This was my last race of the season so I'm done now and I'm back in Australia next week."