NAIROBI, November 23 – Newly crowned IAAF World athlete of the year David Rudisha jetted back to the country to a warm welcome on Tuesday night.
The plane carrying the 21 year old touched down at 7:15pm and he disembarked to a welcoming party that included his wife Lizzy and his daughter, Assistant Minister of Sports Kabando wa Kabando, close relatives and friends.
Dancers dressed in traditional Masai regalia carrying milk in traditional gourds were also at hand to welcome their warrior.
“I am very happy to be back home and am overwhelmed by the reception. That the assistant minister of sports, our area MP and others all came out to welcome me was a pleasant surprise,” said Rudisha.
Rudisha became the first Kenyan to win the coveted award in Monaco last Sunday at the IAAF Athletics Gala.
“I am very happy to win the athlete of the year award especially as I was the first Kenyan to win. It is usually won by sprinters but this time it has come to Kenya and I want to encourage fellow athletes that this everything is possible so long as you work hard,” he said.
The IAAF accolade was the culmination of a fantastic year for the athlete who set the world alight by breaking the 13 year old 800 metres world record-not once but twice in a span of a golden week in late August.
He set a new world best of 1:41.09 in Berlin on August 22 and a week later, he improved it to 1:41.01 in Rieti Italy.
The record was the cherry of a great season during which he was unbeaten in all competitions. In addition to the World record, he won the Diamond league and retained his African Championships title in Nairobi in late July.
“This has been a tremendous year for me because of breaking two records and also running 11 finals without losing. I would like to say thanks to everyone who contributed to these achievements-my coaches, family and manager. I also want to thank Kenyans for their support throughout of the year,” said Rudisha.
Rudisha says that he has already set his sights on next year, “It will be more hard work and training, and staying healthy. It’s an important year because of World Championships and also prepare for the 2012 Olympics.”