NAIROBI, June 13 – It was nothing close to scorching performances Olympic champion and world record holder, David Rudisha is famed for but victory on his return to the IAAF Diamond League circuit at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York on Saturday night was welcome relief for the men two-lap king.
For 700m, Rudisha who was returning to competitive running after suffering an injury scare two weeks ago in Ostrava, looked largely the part but faded on the homestretch to barely clinch the win in 1:43.49, his fourth in New York for his season’s best.
Being one of the two world record holders brought to spice up the meet, fellow headline act and Jamaica sprint ruler, Usain Bolt then took to the track to deliver a 20.30 triumph in the men 200m dash and like Rudisha, also needs to put in the hard work to be in tip top shape for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing in 10 weeks time.
Behind him, home runner Boris Berian chased hard to be rewarded with a second finish in 1:43.84 with France’s Pierre-Ambroise Bosse rounding the podium in 1:43.88.
Rudisha definitely has fond memories of Icahn Stadium, where, in 2012, he ran one of his best times – 1:41.74, his seventh-fastest race to date. Later that year, he won the Olympic 800m title in a world record of 1:40.91.
Since his Olympic victory, Rudisha had been plagued with injuries. In 2014, he had a consistent season of racing, but was defeated in his main championship final of the year at the Commonwealth Games.
“I wasn’t very fit, just working through my comeback,” Rudisha told IAAF pre-race. “But coming into that competition, I was thinking that I still could if not win then, at least, finish in the top three.”
“It was just a muscle spasm,” he said. “The best thing was that I was able to still train through my rehab. The Birmingham Diamond League came too soon, so we decided to be cautious and withdraw.”
In the corresponding women 800m race, 2007 world champion and Beijing Olympics silver medallist, Janeth Jepkosgei attacked in the homestretch for a second finish in 1:59.37 behind American favourite, Amee Wilson who returned 1:58.83.
The ‘Eldoret Express’ prevented a rare distance American podium shut out as home runners Chanelle Price (1:59.47), Molly Beckwith-Ludlow (1:59.47) and Brenda Martinez (2:00.33) followed each other across the line for positions three to five in that order.
– Longosiwa upset-
The men 5000m served up a stunning American victory with Ben True staying true to his name to time his finish to perfection in a 13:29.48 win over former Worlds silver medallist, Nicholas Willis who clocked 13:29.78.
With a strong East African presence led by Birmingham DL winner and Olympics 5000m bronze medallist, Thomas Longosiwa, Commonwealth champion,. Moses Kipsiro (Uganda) and feared Ethiopian Dejen Gebremeskel in the field, True’s victory served warning ahead of the Beijing Worlds.
Nixon Chepseba stepped up the distance to tow the field after the pacemakers dropped before Kipsiro took over to the bell and then Longosiwa stepped up at the back straight and heading to the final curve.
However, True and Willis attacked at the home straight to trump the Africans with Eritrea’s Nguse Amlosom taking bronze in 13:29.78 in a career best performance to complete the surprising podium.
Longosiwa (13:30.26) and Kipsiro (13:31.37) completed the top five.
After visa hitch denied DL leader and revelation, Virgina Nyambura a chance to chase her third victory in the circuit after Doha and Oslo, Ethiopia’s Continental Cup silver medallist, Hiwot Ayalew enjoyed a commanding women 3000 steeplechase win in a slow 9:25.26.
Home runner, Ashley Higginson (9:31.32) and Sviatlana Kudzelich (9:31.70) claimed the lesser medals.