SINGAPORE, August 23 – Wilson Kipketer on Monday said he was not surprised to hear that David Rudisha had smashed his long-standing 800m world record, forecasting a big future for the young Kenyan runner.
Denmark’s Kenyan-born Kipketer had held the record since August 1997 before Rudisha shaved two hundredths of a second from the mark by running 1min 41.09sec in Berlin, Germany on Sunday.
"I wasn’t a bit surprised to hear the news," said the three-times world champion in Singapore, where he is attending the inaugural Youth Olympics as an athlete role model.
"David has been running well all this year, and even last year, and I thought he could do it one day. In a way it was good to see it broken after so many years."
Kipketer believes it is a positive outcome for athletics, in which he is still involved as a coach and consultant.
"It’s great to see it go to Africa after being in Europe for so many years," the 37-year-old told reporters.
"Sebastian Coe held it for 11 years, then I held it for 13. It’s also good to divide the records between the continents."
The 1997 world indoor champion sees a bright future for Rudisha.
"Rudisha is the young blood, like Usain Bolt in the 100m. Usain is 24 and David only 21, so they are part of the new generation of athletics stars," he said.
"This is one step for Rudisha to becoming a big man in athletics. Let’s see if he can now win a World Championships or an Olympic gold medal."
Kipketer won Olympic silver and bronze, but never gold, as he was forced to sit out the 1996 Olympic Games while he waited to be granted Danish citizenship following a switch in nationality from his native Kenya.
Rudisha, the African record holder and a world junior champion over 800 metres in 2006, had been been threatening to break the record for some time, so promising had been his recent form on the track.
"This was my first real attempt to break the world record, I knew I was good, I had trained hard," said the Kenyan after setting the new mark at the World Challenge meet at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium.
"Now that I have run that time, I can say I have the ability to improve and go faster.
"I am very happy, it feels great to have the world record."