Athletics Athletics

The grand stage is set for ‘King David’


RUDISHA-WR-CLOCKNAIROBI, Kenya, May 29- Olympic champion and world record holder, David Lekuta Rudisha makes running look so easy. Watching his fluid powerful paces pound the track almost in slow motion belies the fact he is literally flying when he is at or near his unassailable best.

On Saturday, the men 800m icon, 25, who was nicknamed the ‘Pride of Africa’ when he won the 2006 World Junior title in Beijing returns to competition after sitting out for just over a year injured at the Pre Fontaine Classic- the third stop of the 2014 IAAF Diamond League in Eugene, Oregon.

As the world waits in bated breath for the comeback of the athlete known at home as ‘King David’ in Oregon, the training track of Safaricom Stadium in Nairobi gave a glimpse of what to expect when he did a solo speed work out in the run-up to the Pre Classic.

At the end of it, the powerful athlete was all smiles, quipping, “Did you see that! I ran at race pace!”

The relief in his voice was palpable since, even he, the seemingly indestructible force in 800m running, was not sure he would ever get back anywhere near the imposing shape that has seen him break the world record thrice to the staggering 1:40.91 standard he motored to at the grandest stage of the 2012 London Olympics final.

Forget the records, Olympics and world titles, annihilating world class competition or even the scarcely believable 14 career sub 1:43 races, Rudisha mission in Oregon is simple – to just finish an 800m race for the first time since May 25 last year when he won the Adidas New York Diamond League meet in 1:45.15.

“I’m very happy my injury is almost fully healed. So far I feel my body responding well and what I will be very happy about is that my training has been good and I’m looking forward for my first race in Eugene.

“Since I’ve been out for long, I don’t want to speculate but after my first race, I will know exactly where my shape is. I’m almost doing similar type of training as I did last year,” he added after his work out in Nairobi.

Down memory lane

Even for the most accomplished of global sports icons, a long injury lay-off is a nightmare and for Rudisha, the end of his world title defence three months before Moscow left him with golden memories of his astounding 2012 season to hold on to.

“It was a great year for me; I achieved all things I wanted in an Olympics year. My greatest dream was to win the Olympics championships and to break the world record was a tremendous achievement.

“Coming to 2013, I did my good preparation early in the season, starting my races locally and I ran my personal best in 400m of 45.15 here,” he stated pointing to the nearby stadium where he achieved his landmark over one lap on May 3.