Alfred Kipketer rues his men 800m final moment of ‘madness’

Kenya's Alfred Kipketer (R), Kenya's David Lekuta Rudisha (C) and USA's Boris Berian compete in ...
Kenya's Alfred Kipketer (R), Kenya's David Lekuta Rudisha (C) and USA's Boris Berian compete in the Men's 800m Final during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 15, 2016. OLIVIER MORIN / AFP

Former World Junior Champion Alfred Kipketer regretted his moment of ‘madness’ where he took off in suicidal pace during the men 800m final at Rio 2016 Olympics before he was forced down the order to seventh.

Kipketer who won the junior title at the 2014 edition in Eugene, Oregon acknowledged his ill-advised sudden surge that saw him cross 400m inside the world record place in a race won by countryman David Rudisha (1:42.16) burned him out.

The Donetsk 2013 World Youth champion, who defeated Rudisha at the Eldoret Kenyan Trials for Rio 2016 in July, almost anchored the field despite running a blistering speed of 23 seconds in the first 200m.

Speaking to Citizen Digital, Kipketer rued passing over the chance of medalling on his Olympics debut after failing to stick to the strategy they had agreed pre-race.

“We had not planned I run the way I ran. There was a problem because none of my colleagues wanted to run behind me, so from the gun I charged with all the power.

“I can’t blame anybody but there was no communication or teamwork that people expect with the three of us in the finals. We are however, all proud of David Rudisha for that gold, at the end of the day it is Kenya that won,” a disappointed Kipketer told.

Unperturbed by the searing pace, Rudisha opted to slow down and work his rhythm before surging for victory with a sustained kick from 600m ahead of Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi and American Clayton Murphy who rounded the podium.

“Whenever such things happen, you are left with the feeling you should have done better. It should have been better for me as a person and for Kenya at large.

“I am happy I learnt a big lesson for the future. Very soon I will realise my dream of winning my country gold in a major event at the senior level,” the 20 year-old athlete said.

Rudisha, whose win made him the first man to defend the Olympics two-lap race title since New Zealand’s Peter Snell in1964, could become the first man to notch the treble if he decided to go for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

Bernard Ouma, the Secretary General of Kenya Athletics Coaches Association, raised concerns over the tactics employed on the material day.

“I cannot be sure what exactly happened but I feel Kipketer was sacrificed for Rudisha to win. I have a firsthand experience with one of my athletes during the Beijing World Championships when he was being sacrificed in the same way in the 1500m for the others.

“He called me for advice and I strongly advised him against that. Team work is like what we saw between Helen Obiri and Vivian Cheruiyot in 5000m women finals. As much as they were working to defeat Ayana (Almaz), both finished in the medal bracket,” he claimed.

“When an athlete goes for such a big competition, there is a personal legacy to leave. For Kipketer it will never be written he was a champion in Rio,” explained the Rongai Athletics coach added.

The third Kenyan in the race, Ferguson Rotich, finished fifth.

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Story By Jacob Icia
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