NAIROBI, July 28 – Coming from a career threatening injury, Olympics champion and record holder, David Rudisha will put his status as the King on the line when he seeks to reclaim his 800m title at the August 22-30 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.
Rudisha, who has a season’s best of 1:43.58 ran in New York, will first battle for selection at this weekend’s Beijing Trials in an event that has attracted 21 athletes.
The 26 year-old superstar is up against Kenya’s fastest two-lapper in 2015, Robert Kiptoo (1:43.56) who is sixth in the Worlds’ list, London Olympics bronze medallist, Timothy Kitum and World junior champion, Alfred Kipketer.
Other notables invited in the two day star-studded event in the punishing elevation of Nairobi are; Bahamas World Relays silver winners, Ferguson Rotich and Job Kinyor, Olympics semi-finalist, Anthony Chemut and returning 2006 world junior silver medallist, Jackson Kivuva.
Rudisha, enters the Trials fresh from a second finish at the London IAAF Diamond League meet, smarting from a fifth successive defeat from Botswana’s Nijel Amos, the man he led to the line and stretcher at the London Olympics when he blasted to the 1:40.91 world record.
The clocks returned 1:44.57 against 1:44.67 in London with Rudisha expressing satisfaction he is reducing the gap between him and his rival-in-chief.
His loses to Amos have led a sizable number to declare the Botswana star has finally found his number but the Daegu Worlds champion is quietly confident he will soon return to the throne at the biggest stage of all.
“I’m glad I feel better than last year and I’m happy with the way my body is responding. Amos has dominated in my absence and I think he has done well because he is currently in good shape.
“He is still very strong but I’m happy I was able to compete with him this year,” the son of 1968 Olympics 4x400m relay silver, medallist Daniel Rudisha, underlined after returning from Lausanne where he was once again led to the altar by Amos (1:43.27 v 1:43.76).
Also in the 2011 Daegu World Champion’s radar is Ethiopian Mohammed Aman, who succeeded him in Moscow two years ago in the Kenyan icon’s absence following a knee injury.
The powerfully built athlete is hopeful his top form will be back by the time the starting gun to the men 800m rounds in Beijing is fired after a bumpy season that saw him drop out of the Ostrava Golden Spike due to a muscle pull competing in the rare 600m.
“I’ve identified my weak points so the few weeks remaining, I will work on them. It has been a tough. I’ve been having ups and down in my career but thanks to my coach and family they have been supportive and made me find my way back.
“I will try my best to come back strong in Beijing but since I’m still recovering, I have to be very careful and train smart otherwise I might end up causing more damage that may end my career completely.
“I’ve been taking it cautiously because I’m the only one who can tell how my body is responding. I needed three races before Trials but it didn’t go my way after missing Birmingham due to a muscle pull picked in Ostrava,” Rudisha, explained.
Beijing holds happy memories for Rudisha who announced his presence on the international scene when he won the 2006 World Junior title in the Chinese capital.
Nicknamed the ‘Pride of Africa’ for his fluid running, Beijing was to be the start of the his affiliation with the middle step of the podium and global super stardom.
He has since won an Olympics, world, two African, a Continental Cup titles, set the world record in 800m thrice (1:41.09, 1:41.01 and 1:40.91) besides being beaten by Amos to settle for last year’s Commonwealth Games silver.
After missing the Moscow ticket due to a combination of injury and attending the Recruit Training School to become a Kenya Defence Forces soldier Kitum is out to fight for selection.
His season’s best of 1:45.41 ran at the Rome Golden Gala DL meet is way off his closest challengers but gearing to have built enough wind in his sails to grab a Beijing place.
The former Commonwealth Youth Games champion, will be inspired by his second finish (1:45.5) at the National Championships behind 2008 Olympic and two-time world champion, Asbel Kiprop (1:45.4).
“If we team up with Rudisha, Rotich (Ferguson) and Kipketer, I’m sure we will bring back gold from Aman. I’m aiming to lower my personal best of 1:42.53 at the Trials,” the 20-year-old boldly predicted.
At the Nationals, Kitum edged out Kivuva who settled for bronze (1:45.7).
The man who followed Rudisha home in Beijing is trying to build momentum as he targets a podium finish at the Trials after battling back from a tendon injury.
“Expect good things from me. I’m coming from an injury I picked in 2012 that has seen me struggle to regain my fitness back but I’m happy to race again.”