NAIROBI, Kenya, June 9 – He promised an American all-comers record before the race and David Rudisha went ahead to not only destroy the previous standard but also crushed any ambitions his Olympics rivals harbour at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York.
Making his American debut at the sixth stop of the 2012 Samsung Diamond League (SDL) at the Big Apple, Rudisha left the quality field for dead from the 600m mark as he stopped the timer at a staggering 1:41.74, for an emphatic victory that was also the loudest statement of intent ahead of the Summer Games.
Such was the brutal, forceful and ultimately majestic display of 800m running that compatriot and 2007 World Champion, Alfred Kirwa (1:44.49) a street behind as Norway’s Vebjorn Rodal previous US record from Atlanta 96 Olympics of 1:42.48 was left in smithereens.
Rudisha’s own previous World Lead of 1:43.10 achieved at the opening SDL meeting in Doha (May 11) was crushed by his glittering fifth sub 1:42 career performance in two seasons as he gifted the New York event with a new meet best.
With his regular pacemaker, Sammy Tangui, unavailable due to commitments at Kenya Defence Forces, American Matthew Scherer did a fantastic rabbit job of taking the runners through the lap in 49.09.
At the time, Rudisha had just freed himself from a tangle with the pack that involved Kirwa, Commonwealth champion, Boaz Lalang and Worlds silver medallist, Abubaker Kaki of Sudan who won at the Pre Fontaine Classic last week.
The African and Continental Cup titleholder then raced in front at the back straight, charging away from the challengers in jaw dropping fashion as the crowd sensed they were in for something special hence the decibels went up.
Glancing at the clock, Rudisha powered to the tape with such pop as the scorching pace he had set saw Kaki retire from the race.
Britain’s Andrew Osagie continued his rapid improvement by edging out Lalang (1:44.83) for third in a lifetime best of 1:44.61 with both returning season bests.
Rudisha first breached the sub 1:42 barrier at the Heusden-Zolder meeting on July 10 two seasons ago where he ran 1:41.51. Since then, two world record setting performances of 1:41.09 (August 22) and 1:41.01 (August 29) the same season have been followed by the 1:41.33 achieved last year and Saturday’s effort in New York.
“I always prefer setting myself targets when training so that I retain my focus and push myself hard since preparing for competition is not easy. If I achieve my goal for New York, it will be another boost to my morale ahead of London,” Rudisha, 23, said before his departure to New York.
Rudisha has already been penned for the Paris leg of the 14-meet series where he is scheduled to clash against Ethiopian World Indoor titleholder, Mohammed Aman who snapped his 26-race winning streak last September in Italy.
“It was a fast time,” Rudisha told AFP after the race. “It felt good for my first time in the United States. I’m in great shape and I’m expecting to perform well in London.”
Elsewhere at the same meeting in the all Ethiopian showdown, double Olympic champion, Tirunesh Dibaba also fired a telling statement ahead of London when she stopped archrival Meseret Defar (14:57.02) with a winning performance of 14:50.80.
Only Kenya’s reigning double World Champion, Vivian Cheruiyot has run faster than Tirunesh who is finding her feet after two seasons of injury enforced absence.