NAIROBI, Kenya, July 30- It continues to be an astonishing season for David Rudisha.Not only did he defend his 800m Africa title on Friday, he clocked an astonishing 1:42.84, a mark previously deemed impossible at altitude.
“Yesterday (Thursday) I was feeling great and I knew I was going to run a fast time because I ran at a relaxed pace and today the pace was even so I’m really happy,” said Rudisha who led the hosts to a clean sweep with former world champion in second position and Jackson Kivuva in third.
“Today I was feeling great that’s why I decided to push myself and go faster,” he added.
Rudisha who set the fastest time in Belgium last month would not be drawn into talk about setting a new world record.
The odds on favourite, the question was not whether he would win but how fats he would go with the 6’3” athlete going through the first lap in 51.59 seconds before accelerating further after the bell and only a momentous pause as he came for the finish prevented him from setting an even more astonishing mark.
Vociferous fans including Prime Minister Raila Odinga who was making his first public appearance since leaving hospital were on their feet to cheer the defending champion as he cruised down the home stretch.
Eight hundred metre legends Billy Konchella and Sammy Kosgey stepped onto the track to congratulate the now two time African winner as he took his lap of honour alongside Kirwa and Kivuva.
Rudisha refused to be drawn into talk that the world record was within reach. “The world record is still far. I still want to run 1.42. I will think about the world record later,” said the 22 year old.
Nyayo did not have to wait long to see another title remain home when Richard Mateelong held on to his 3000m steeplechase title. He crossed the line in 8:23.54 at the same time giving the rapturous crowd his trademark salute.
World and former Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi took silver in 8:26.13. “I am very happy to retain my title. At first the pressure was on because we were running at home but I thank God we made it,” said Mateelong.
Olympic champion Nancy Lagat lived up to the pre race hype to reclaim
the 1500m title she last won in 2004. Lagat won the race in a time of 4:10.43 while Gelete Burka from Ethiopia finished second in 4:11.12 while Btissam Lakhouad 4:11.81.
“To be honest the race was very tough because their was alot of pressure from my counterparts from Ethiopia and Morocco but I thank God for seeing me through,” said Lagat.
“I’m not disappointed about the time I set because at championships there are no pacemakers but my intention was not to get good time but to win gold,” she added.