NAIROBI, Kenya, May 3- Olympic champion and record holder, David Rudisha, sent a stern warning to pretenders to his throne by lowering his career best over 400m to 45.15 on his first outing this season in Nairobi on Friday.
If any one sought to establish whether he was motivated enough after winning it all at the tender age of 24 to go out to break new frontiers in his career, the 1:40.91 standard bearer in men’s 800m answered in the most emphatic of fashions on an overcast afternoon at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
In punishing elevation, Rudisha tore up the thick tartan at Kenya’s pristine sporting cathedral to win his 400m heat at the last AK/NBK National Track and Field Series meet to better his previous 45.50 lifetime best ran in Sydney in 2010.
Running from Lane 3, Rudisha nosed in front from the gun before motoring past the first, second and homestretch curves to drop his rivals and leave him racing against the clock in the last 100m.
Even he could not at first believe his time when it was said to him as his face lit up in a huge smile.
“I’m happy to start here at home and to do such time here in Kasarani is good. The last time I competed here was in 2006 in the Trials for the World Juniors and to come here and run that is a good thing.
“I know my spirit is not bad. I always like doing 400m before starting my main season to be confident with my speed and I’m happy with the time,” he stated ahead of his Diamond League bow in Doha on May 10.
“I was expecting to do my (400m) PB last year but unfortunately I was unlucky since I had a stomach ache when I got there before the competition. I was in good form last year,” the Olympics and World titleholder said of his 45.82 winning time in Sydney last year.
The marquee athlete also disclosed he would feature in only a few races before the Moscow Worlds in August where he is seeking to hold on to the title he won in Daegu in 2011.
“I sat down with my coach to strategise and put down the times I ran last year. It was tough to the body. My coach always advises me not to wait for my body to tell me I’m tired.
“That is why I decided to take more rest this time,” Rudisha explained why he skipped his traditional season opener in the Land Down under.
He is scheduled to compete at the Doha, New York and Pre Fontaine legs of the Diamond League and one other race before embarking on a title defence.
“I Doha, I will know where my exact shape is and rectify the mistakes I will have made. The season is on from next week and it was a good thing to start here,” he explained.
Rudisha’s coach, Brother Colm O’Connell underscored need for his signature runner to have launched the season with such a blistering performance to underline his credentials for the campaign in the face of stern competition.
“He was wondering whether he could pull himself up again to the level he has been running in the last few years. There was a bit of anxiety and now that we have put this behind us over 400m, I think people are looking at him with confidence for this year.
“For somebody who has achieved what he has done, the difference between being a good athlete and a great athlete is somebody who can pull motivation out of nowhere.
“David is Olympic champion, world champion, record holder you might wonder, what next? What can he do? What is left to achieve? Great athletes can be able to move a notch higher in their motivation and that is something David has to look at this season,” the Patrician clergyman added.
“He is become an athlete of occasion, he can handle the tag of favouritism. When the occasion demands it, he generally performs. This year he is running sparingly, four or five races between now and Moscow which are few for an 800m runner.
“Hopefully, all his races will be quality races with a specific target in mind,” the coach added.
With his scorching cameo at the meet, Rudisha left to prepare for his Diamond League onslaught, forgoing Saturday’s finals at the domestic event.
To underpin his performance, the second fastest athlete on the day ran 50.7 as once again; the athlete who was leaner than everyone is used to showed it will take something extraordinary to topple him from his perch.
“He is aware that there are those who are ready to take over his mantle once he slips and it is up to them to figure out how they will close the gap on David. It took a world record to win the Olympics last year, showing how he has taken it to the next level but he cannot rest on his laurels,” his coach stressed.