Athletics Athletics

All bow as King David reclaims his throne

 Kenya's David Rudisha led from gun to tape in the 800m final in Beijing, claiming gold in 1min 45.84sec. PHOTO/AFP
Kenya’s David Rudisha led from gun to tape in the 800m final in Beijing, claiming gold in 1min 45.84sec. PHOTO/AFP

NAIROBI, August 25- Just like Jamaican superstar and admirer, Usain Bolt, David Rudisha has silenced his critics by reclaiming the world 800m title when he ditched his famed front running to deploy a tactical plot that none of his rivals could respond to at the Beijing Bird’s Nest.

The Olympics titleholder and world record holder will return from the Chinese capital once again a world champion, having won the world junior title there in 2006 as a precocious talent who was nicknamed the Pride of Africa.

“I would describe him the supreme tactical magician. He won the heat, semis and finals by sheer tactics. People were getting worried but I think the training he did since then and he was feeling he’s coming around nicely.

“Great for Kenya and for David. He was not in great shape and he was not the favourite but this is a great confident booster he would use this as a stepping stone to Rio Olympics and it went well,” his elated coach, Brother Colm O’Connell, told Capital Sport.

In truth, the race was pedestrian by Rudisha’s lofty standards, having ascended to the middle step of the podium in his last championship victory with the jaw-dropping 1:40.91 world record at the London 2012 Olympics.

Then, he led seven of the eight finalists to lifetime bests but on a hot Beijing night, Rudisha opted for brains over raw power, settling for the honours in 1:45.84, which was still off the 1:43.75 he won his first world title in Daegu 2011.

His triumph erased the nightmare of two injury plagued seasons that saw him miss out on a title defence in Moscow when he was injured at the New York Grand Prix IAAF Golden League meet that May.

After delicate knee hole surgery and an extended period of rehabilitation in Germany and Kenya, King David returned to the circuit mid last year where the emergence of Botswana star and Olympics silver medallist, Nijel Amos, left him in the shade, forcing him to accept a first career silver at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Five straight defeats to Amos and the shocking first loss on home soil at the Kenyan Trials on August 1 by Ferguson Rotich tore off the cloak of invincibility he had worked for three seasons between 2010 and 12 when he broke the world record thrice ahead of Beijing.

The stage was set for his redemption.

Rudisha did nothing to convince the watching world he had the ability to return to his roaring best when he literally, jogged through the heats to win in 1:48.31, the slowest time he has ever posted at a championship.

At the semis, he delivered a mortal blow to Amos, going out in an unusually sluggish pace before opening up his strides over the last 200m to win in 1:47.70 as the Commonwealth champion ended his interest in the medals by taking third in the notoriously slow race.

The stars aligned for the Kenyan megastar on when defending champion, Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia got himself disqualified for pushing.

“I don’t think it would made a difference with Aman and Amos. Maybe in the minor medals, not the gold because Rudisha was ready for this championship and knew how to deal with the opposition.

“He won the heats in 1:48 and semis in 1:47 then the final in 1:45. This is a fantastic display of tactical running,” the veteran coach and Patrician Brother added.

Running in temperatures of 24 degrees Celsius and 78 percent humidity, Rudisha worked his way to the front inside 100m and then eased to controlled strides as he led the field through 400m in 54.17, way off the 49.04 he ran en route to the world record in London.

Down the far straight, European champion Kszczot tried to force past Rudisha on the inside, but the Kenyan managed to muscle him off as the pack spread with runners looking for a clean line.

Tula sat in fourth behind Kenyan Rotich and Kszczot at 200 metres, all three fighting for two podium spots as Rudisha opened up and put in one final burst for the line.

At the final bend, Rudisha opened up his big fluid strides to go for the gold and by 50m to go, had separated him from the challengers with Poland’s European champion, Adam Kszczot the closest as Rotich desperately tried to find the kick to keep up.

On the outside, Tuka who had disengaged from the box was making a late spirited charge for the line, using his incredible finishing power over the last 30m but he could not reel in the front two as Kszczot took silver in 1:46.03 with the Bosnian winning bronze (1:46.30) and his country’s first medal of the 15th World Championships.

Finally, the King was back to his throne. All the doubters were given the answer the sought in another show of incredible recovery for the stocky, powerfully built two-lap beast who never knows when he’s beaten.

Rudisha recovered from missing out on the final of the Berlin Worlds in 2009 when he was knocked out of the semis by breaking Kenyan born Dane, Wilson Kipketer’s long-standing world record by running 1:41.09 and then 1:41.01 in 2010.

Then Daegu came and saw him crowned a world champion for the first time before he shot to history in London a year later.

His victory pushed Kenya’s tally to four gold, three silver and two bronze as his nation stood atop of the standings after Day 4 of the programme ahead of Great Britain and Jamaica.

Rudisha emulated Bolt who beat favourite and convicted drug cheat, Justin Gatlin in the men 100m final by coming to the Worlds as the underdog and surviving a an attempted coup to his majesty to show he is still the king of two-lap running.