Athletics Athletics

Rudisha promises Lord Coe a London blast


NAIROBI, Kenya, July 31- The crown prince of 800m running and world record holder, David Rudisha pledged to deliver a gift wrapped dazzling performance to his friend and inspiration, Lord Sebastian Coe, the London 2012 Olympics Organising Committee chairman.

“He is a very good friend of mine. We have met in a few places and had a chat. He liked me and is one of the best middle distance runners. Before I broke the world record, he told me you are gonna do it.

“We have been friends since and I’m happy to go to London where he has organised the Olympics. It is a morale for me to go there,” the world champion said as he departed for his Olympics debut as the overwhelming favourite to accomplish what the great Lord Coe did not, win an Olympics medal over 800m.

Rudisha will compete on the heats and semis on August 6 and 7 to seek a place in the final eight for the medal showdown two days later. He is also listed as a participant in the Kenyan 4X400m relay whose heats begin a day after the final.

The Kenyan mid distance running icon believes he is in the condition of tearing apart Norwegian Vebjorn Rodal’s Olympics record of 1:42.58 set at the Atlanta Olympics that stood as the American soil record until Rudisha turned up at the Adidas Diamond League meeting in New York in June and smashed it with a rampant 1:41.74 victory.

“I’m in a very good shape and the other day I dropped the altitude record here in Nairobi that was almost 1:41. The Olympics record is 1:41 and half and I expect to dip that,” the two-time African and Continental gold medallist emphasised.

With talk that he would attempt the improbable and go after his own 1:41.01 world best in London that would gift his friend and billions watching around the globe a track classic that would embed his Olympics legend, Rudisha moved to temper expectations.

“We expect a lot but for the world record, there are a lot of things to consider, the environment and the weather but the main goal is to win the Olympics,” he stressed.

“This year, I have been running very well and London will be tough as a championship competition. I’m doing my best and I believe in myself that I will do well,” he assured.

Coe is a predecessor of the overall Team Kenya captain as a world record holder in the two-lap distance having broken it twice, running 1:42.33 in 1979 and 1:41.73 in 1981, a mark that stood until 1997 when Kenyan born Dane Wilson Kipketer matched it before lowering it to 1:41.24 and 1:41.11, the standard that stood for 13 years until Rudisha’s arrival on the equation.

Rudisha joined the sanctified group of Coe, Kipketer and Cuban legend, Alberto Juantorena, the 1976 Olympics champion in August 2010 when he first broke the world record with 1:41.09 in Berlin before demolishing his own mark a week later in Rieti to the current standard. The quartet shares the honour of having the world 800m record twice in their careers.

“David is a fantastic athlete; he is a great ambassador for African athletics but he is also a great ambassador for world athletics.

“For somebody putting together an Olympics Games it is great for track and field to have David Rudisha coming to London as a world champion,” Lord Coe said a day after Rudisha won the world title in Daegu last summer.

The two mid distance luminaries had been brought together at an International Sports Press Association (AIPS) luncheon.

Having dipped under 1:42 twice this year, few can bet against the runner nicknamed the ‘Pride of Africa’ when he won the 2006 World Junior championships in Beijing against delivering on his pledge to his idol who besides being one of only three men who has posted a 1:41, has thus far, put up an enthralling serving of the quadrennial sporting carnival.