NAIROBI, Kenya, June 25- David Rudisha was not considered worthy of receiving a wildcard to the 2008 Beijing Kenyan Olympic team despite winning the African title in April 2008 after tendon injury saw him miss the Trials.
Instead, Wilfred Bungei, Boaz Lalang and Alfred Kirwa Yego the top three finishers in that order at the selection event, travelled to Beijing.
Rudisha, a Form 4 student at St Francis High in Kamuron at the time, retreated back to school to study for his O Levels later that year as he wistfully watched the Olympics final on television.
“I was very happy that Bungei won the gold but I was disappointed I was not in the team since I wanted to travel there so badly,” he confessed in the knowledge that much effort was put into securing him the wildcard.
It emerged the third finish by Kirwa, then the reigning World Champion, made it untenable for Athletics Kenya (AK) to grant Rudisha outside selection.
Four years later, Rudisha did not require any lottery in selection after earning his right to compete in London with an astounding performance that places him as an Olympics champion-elect as he announced he would also seek to lower his own 1:41.01 world record.
“First of all I’m very happy to make the team for such a big competition. I’m very excited since is my first Olympics after I missed in 2008 due to a tendon injury that made me not run at the trials.
“This comes at the right time whereby I feel I’m in the shape of my life. Running a world lead two weeks ago and running the altitude record here is fantastic,” he proclaimed soon after hammering the Nyayo National Stadium in an altitude record of 1:42.12 to win the Kenyan Trials.
From the gun, the world record holder moved to the lead at the first curve before turning on the style by accelerating from the chasing pack at 600m to run the second fastest time of the year as his previous altitude record of 1:42.84 clocked in 2010 was blown apart.
“I’m really optimistic. This is the only major title I’m missing on my table. I’m doing all my best and the way I started training this year I did a lot of work with my coach. I hope when I get there, I shall win the Olympics and doing other great things like maybe even breaking the world record again
“There is no need of breaking the world record at the Olympics, I hope for a great race since what matters is winning the gold medal. Running 1:42.12 without a pacesetter and running from the front, I do not think anybody has ever done that before and it’s fantastic.”
Besides featuring in his two-lap speciality, Rudisha is also aiming at emulating his father, Daniel, who won silver at the 1968 Mexico Olympics as a member of the Kenyan 4X400m relay team.
“We already have the silver medal when my father ran in 1968 and I want to better it and bring home the gold medal that is my ambition and mission this year.
“I will be participating in the 4X400m. I’m willing and free to participate we hope we will work as at team, I will do my best.”
With supporters mobbing him after he finished his race after cheering him to the rafters as he powered away from the competition, Rudisha was aware the enormity of the aspiration he carries for fans as he gave them a jaw-dropping exhibition of running.
“I’m very happy Kenyans love sport and they love athletics. They were cheering even when the start list was being read and I wanted to deliver something special for them and for those who are not able to come and watch us race in Europe.
“I gave them my best. If I wanted to run slow pace, win nice and comfortable, I could have done that but the passion and feelings we have for our supporters motivate us to go train hard and win for our nation.”
As part of the squad aiming to surpass Kenya’s performance in Beijing where the athletes won six gold, four silver and four bronze, Rudisha is confident the class of London 2012 will deliver on their promise to make history.
“We have a lot of hopes for Kenya since we are blessed with many of athletes who are working hard to raise our flag high. We have been good ambassadors and I’m telling Kenyans to have hopes, let them pray for us and when we go there we hope we are going to do our best and deliver as many gold medals as possible.”