NAIROBI, July 14- Whenever David Lekuta Rudisha runs, Kenya runs with him. Those who watched his latest conquest at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York on Saturday night across the nation went to bed a happy lot with hope taking the place of despair.
Goodwill messages on social media went on until the wee hours of the morning after their icon, the Olympics men 800m champion and world record holder dug deep for victory. The King is Back was a resonating theme.
Rudisha remains unbeaten in the 800m at the Adidas Grand Prix that was the midway point of the 14-meet 2015 IAAF Diamond League.
For his fourth straight appearance the Kenyan had set himself a goal of running a 1:43 and setting the world leading mark.
Coming off a muscle spasm sustained in Ostrava two weeks ago that caused anxiety countrywide, he was able to fulfil the first part of his agenda, but came just short of achieving the second one.
The pace maker carried Rudisha through the first lap in 50.10.
The 2011 Daegu world champion was ahead of the competition in a comfortable enough position not to go all out in the closing stages and ended up winning in 1:43.58, just 0.02 slower than Mohammed Aman’s world-leading time.
“I was cautious today. I started easier and I didn’t push too hard in the end,” said the Olympic champion. “Now it’s time to go back to Kenya for two more weeks of training.”
Behind Rudisha, there was a surprise runner-up. USA’s Boris Berian lowered his personal best by almost one-and-a-half seconds, from 1:45.30 to 1:43.84.
The 22-year-old will now approach the US Championships as the fastest man in the country and one of the favourites for a team berth for the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015.
France’s Pierre-Ambroise Bosse finished third in a European-leading mark of 1:43.88.
Having recovered from his latest setback in Europe, Rudisha is due to fly home and head straight to his Iten training camp to sharpen for his next outing at the July 9 Lausanne Diamond League showdown.
Despite the fact he did not face his main rank challengers in the circuit including Aman, Botswana’s Nijel Amos and Poland’s Adam Kuzczot who have given him a sterner test, there’s hope Rudisha can work his way back to the top after two years of injury nightmare.
“It was pleasing to see him run from the front in his usual technique and he wanted to run faster. It was a good sign and it put Kenyan minds at ease. He will have good training in the weeks ahead of his next race in Lausanne on July 9,” his coach, Brother Colm O’Connell noted.
Although it’s still to bet the house on a second World Championships gold medal on him, there was no mistaking the fighting qualities of the high Masai Moran warrior who set the astonishing 1:40.91 standard at the 2012 London Olympics are still alive.
What remains is to match that with the speed which made him almost untouchable over two laps.
-Additional material from IAAF