Greatness as King David Rudisha delivers second gold
David Lekuta Rudisha entered the annals of men 800m and indeed athletics greatness when he became the first man to defend the Olympics title in Rio de Janeiro with a flying 1:42.15 for Kenya’s second gold medal of the 31st edition of the Summer Games.
‘King David’ as he is known brushed aside concerns over foul weather in the lead up to the delayed final to take over from his compatriot and 2014 World Junior champion, Alfred Kipketer, who took off shortly after the gun like a rocket and posted the suicidal 49.23 at 400m.
At the back-straight, the world record holder and two-time world champion attacked his countryman and got him with just over 300m before opening up those elegant strides that have taken 800m to hitherto uncharted waters and accelerated down the homestretch to history.
Behind him Olympics 1500m champion, Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi set a national record at the distance of 1:42.61 for silver as American Clayton Murphy left the blue tartan of the Rio Olympics stadium with a lifetime best of 1:42.93 for the bronze.
“I dedicate this win to all my fans all over the world and above all to my country; Kenya. To all those who woke up at 4am to watch the race and for all your steadfast support throughout the years,” the now two-time Olympics champion wrote on his official Facebook page moments after his latest crowning moment.
Rudisha, who produced the run of the London Games in 2012 to win gold in a world record of 1:40.91, roared through the line to claim his second Olympic gold, Makhloufi out-sprinting Bosse, who eased up too early to allow Murphy in for an unexpected bronze.
It capped a memorable return to the throne most thought the 27 year-old Kenyan had vacated when injury in the run-up to the New York IAAF Diamond League meeting cost him the defense of the world title he had won in Daegu, South Korea in 2011.
At that point in his career, his numbers in the prestigious two-lap since between 2010 and 2012 were staggering. Rudisha first equalled and then broke the world record thrice, dipped under 1:42 seven times besides being the only man to go under 1:41.
“That performance is no joke, those fast times. I have run under 1:42 more than any other person. I don’t think anybody will run like that any time soon. I was in the best shape of my career at the time,” he said before travelling to Brazil to defend his Olympics crown with question marks over his ability to remain untouchable.
As a country set their alarm clocks to wake up at the originally scheduled time of 4:25am (+3GMT) in the early hours of Tuesday morning to witness their ‘King’ in action, the drama was only heightened when the programme was pushed back before the start.
Over the years, increment weather has been biggest Achilles Heel to Rudisha, having lost races in wet conditions to key rivals such as Ethiopian Mohammed Aman, the 2013 world champion, Nijel Amos, the Commonwealth Games winner in 2014 and Ferguson Rotich (1:43.55) a fifth finisher here in Rio who has beaten him thrice this season.
Track and field organisers were forced to suspend athletics competition at the Rio Olympic Stadium this morning because of heavy rain with the final of the men’s pole vault and qualifying in the women’s discus and men’s 110m hurdles halted as concerns mounted over Rudisha.
But when the appointed hour came, nothing could stop the greatest male 800m runner of all time from having a date with destiny as he fulfilled his favourite role to perfection, to join other stars of track and field in Brazil such as Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and newly coined men 400m record holder, Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa in the lights.
Kipketer paid for his scorching start with a seventh finish in 1:46.02 but to his credit, he is one for the future once the great Rudisha exits the stage at a time when only he knows.
MEN 800M FINAL RESULTS
1 2696 David Lekuta Rudish KEN 1:42.15 SB
2 2009 Taoufik MAKHLOUFI ALG 1:42.61 NR
3 3091 Clayton MURPHY USA 1:42.93 PB
4 2415 Pierre-Ambroise BOSSE FRA 1:43.41 SB
5 2695 Ferguson Cheruiyot ROTICH KEN 1:43.55 SB
6 2844 Marcin LEWANDOWSKI POL 1:44.20 SB
7 2681 Alfred KIPKETER KEN 1:46.02
8 3050 Boris BERIAN USA 1:46.15
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