NAIROBI, July 22 – On Saturday, Kenyan men 800m world record holder, David Rudisha, will travel back the sands of time when he competes at the 11th IAAF Diamond League meeting in London.
This was the venue when on a clear British summer night, Rudisha ran to the record books in stunning fashion when he obliterated his own world record to win the London 2012 Olympics gold in the simply staggering 1:40.91 in a race dubbed the ‘greatest 800m race in history.’
Andrew Osagie, the home runner who finished last in 1:43.77 in the epic two-lap final would have won Olympics gold at the Beijing 2008, Athens 2004 and Sydney 2000 games in further illustrating the majesty of a performance that simply blew the world away.
Since then however, the Kenyan icon has struggled to impose himself on the grand stage of 800m running since he suffered a freak serious knee injury as he prepared to run at the 2013 Adidas Grand Prix Diamond League (DL) meeting in New York.
With the IAAF World Championships in Beijing around the corner, Rudisha is determined more than ever to re-establish himself as the global force at the Chinese capital where he has unfinished business.
Another injury suffered during training in his home base of Iten in western Kenya ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics Trials saw Athletics Kenya (AK) decline to give him wildcard selection to China despite the fact he would have recovered in time to make his debut at the biggest sporting carnival on earth.
Rudisha recovered from that setback and also missing out on the world title at the 2009 Berlin Worlds to break the world record twice in 2010, bag the global title in 2011 in South Korea before his signature Olympics victory in 2012.
The man who has scaled the heights, set dizzying standards and also gone through his lows in a chequered career acknowledges running to the gold medal at Beijing’s iconic Birds’ Nest is the sternest test he faces since he burst to the global scene in 2006 as a World Junior champion at the Chinese capital.
He is hoping a return to the London Olympics Stadium this Saturday will inspire the fire in his belly to re-capture the world title won in 2013 by Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman after injury forced him out of a defence.
“Competing here will bring back the great memories of the Olympics and I’m sure the spectators will make another fantastic atmosphere.
“I’m working hard to be in my best form and this race will be a good test for me ahead of the Kenyan Trials the following week,” the two-time African champion declared ahead of his trip to London.
“I can’t wait to compete at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games and go back to the Stadium which has such a special place in my heart. Winning an Olympic gold medal and setting a world record was the highlight of my career and I’ll never forget it,” he added.
Following his incredible performance in London, the crown of ‘800m King’ or ‘King David’ as he’s referred to in Kenyan media circles has attracted the interest of his rivals including Aman and now, Botswana’s Nijel Amos.
Since following him home in London, Amos has grown to be the biggest challenger to Rudisha, forcing the great Kenyan to accept the silver medal at last year’s Commonwealth Games when he was admittedly, not fully fit having just return from his career threatening knee injury.
A fortnight ago, Amos was at it again, staying close to Rudisha at the Lausanne DL meeting as the front running master led through 600m before out-sprinting him to the honours over the homestretch to hand him a first defeat of the season.
Rudisha is still working towards full fitness – a series of injuries have hampered his progress in recent years – but this defeat will have hurt the world record holder who will want to return to the top in London.
“Losing to Nigel taught me a lot on the areas I need to improve in the time I have before the World Championships. I had a muscle pull in Ostrava that made me pull out of Birmingham Diamond League meeting then I won in New York and went to Lausanne.
“Despite coming second, I was happy I still ran 1:43.76 that was not far from my seasons’ best of 1:43.58 (New York). It means I can now run consistently fast which was my fear when I returned from injury. What remains now is hard training to improve my finishing for Beijing since the World Championships is my biggest aim,” the Kenyan star added.