NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 12 – World record-holder David Rudisha is on course to defend his Olympics title after dominating Heat 3 to progress to the semi-finals of the Rio games scheduled for Sunday morning.
Rudisha, will be joined by compatriots Ferguson Rotich and 2014 world junior champion Alfred Kipketer who also made it through from their Heats.
Rudisha’s Heat was the fastest as the two-time world champion comfortably cruised to victory in 1:45.09 ahead of South African’s Van rensburg Rynardt (1:45.67) who finished second while Rimmer Michael finished third (1:45.99) with all three automatically booking a slot in the semi.
“It was good,” said Rudisha, whose world record, gold medal-winning run at the London Games was one of the performances of those Olympics.
“It was just cruising to qualify for the semis tomorrow, which is main part of the competition as you have to secure your place in the final.
“I’m in good form, there’s no doubt about that. I’m very confident because I’m finding my finishing power in the last 100m, so I think I’m in a position to control my races again.”
Rudisha admitted to feeling the pressure of defending his title over the two-lap race.
“There is a lot of pressure, of course, coming here as defending champion, as a world record holder and as a world champion. There’s a lot of expectation,” he said.
“Last year and this year are completely different. I feel like I’m in better form, almost like my good years between 2010-12.
“My training’s been going well. I haven’t been performing well in some of the races I’ve had.
“I had a bad start in Shanghai, I came to Stockholm in bad weather. It only improved in Birmingham in the 600m and Budapest where I ran the world leading time.”
Rotich was the first Kenyan to race in Heat 2 where despite starting from behind he charged in the second lap to finish second in 1:46.00 behind Polish Adam Kszczot who won in 1:45.83 while third place went to Andres Arroyo of Puerto Rico (1:46.17)
Kenya’s winner at the Rio Olympics Trials Kipketer ensured the nation’s dreams of a podium sweep in Tuesday’s final is intact after winning Heat 4 in 1:46.61.
The second place went to Andrea Bube of Denmark (1:46.67) as Algerian Yassine Hethat took the automatic third place in 1:46.81.
However, Rudisha’s threat Amos Nijel of Botswana was upset in Heat 5, failing to make it to the semi-finals after finishing second last in 1:50.46.
It was the slowest race of all after reigning Olympics 1500m champion Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria won the race 1:49.17 ahead of Moroccan Moustafa Smaili (1:49.29) while Italian Giordano Benedetti was third (1:49.40).
Ethiopian Mohammed Aman also progressed from the last heat after finishing second.