Athletics Athletics

How injury crumbled Rudisha’s golden London dream

Kenya captain to London 2012 Olympics, David Rudisha, poses with his men 800m gold medal he won in a world record. NOC-K launched the fundraising drive to Rio on Thursday. PHOTO/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 3- “It’s a World Recoooooooord,”… the commentator bellowed as David Rudisha blazed through the finish line at the Olympic Stadium on that eventful chilly evening in London on August 9, 2012, fist in the air, jumping in ecstasy and wearing a smile as wide as Noah’s ark.

Rudisha, fondly referred to as ‘The King’ mesmerized the crown in the two lap race, one that IAAF president Lord Sebastian Coe to date marks as the best ever he has watched, clocking 1:40.91, lowering further the 1:41.01 world record mark he had set two years back in Rieti, Italy.

It was the epitome of his success; first ever Olympic medal and a world record topping up the humongous achievement.

“That stadium is very special and it is a place that is close to my heart since that is where I produced one of the best performances ever in my career. Winning the Olympics was a great achievement but going on to break the world record was something else. It is not a thing that happens often. I can never forget that feeling,” Rudisha told Capital Sport with a nostalgic smile on his face.

David Rudisha during a training session. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

The King of the two-lap race had hoped to go back to the same stadium five years on, though not with an aim of breaking his own record, but with the hope of successfully defending his world title.

The dream was cut short on Monday evening when team doctors confirmed that Rudisha had stretched his quad muscles and would not be travelling to London. The 28-year old had first felt a twitch on the muscle last Tuesday as he did some speed work.

He pulled off training and did some light work out on Thursday, before getting back to up his tempo on the track again on Friday.

“It is a huge disappointment, but that is the nature of sport,” Rudisha said after the news was confirmed his sojourn back to his ‘spiritual shrine’ was cut short.

Rudisha will not be defending his world 800m title due to injury. Photo/COURTESY

In a previous interview with Capital Sport before injury, Rudisha had spoken about how much he had expected to go back to London and win again, especially coming at a time when he felt his body was in tip top shape.

“Breaking the record is not something that happens every day. Going back there, there will be a lot of expectations to produce that same performance but my aim is to go and win. There is pressure but I will channel that pressure to push me work hard,” an expectant Rudisha said then.

But even in his absence, Rudisha has tipped the team of Emmanuel Korir, World U20 champion Kipyegon Bett and 2016 Diamond League winner Ferguson Rotich to defend the title he won in Beijing in 2015.

Emmanuel Korir lifts his hands in celebration after winning the 800m race during the Kenyan trials at the Nyayo Stadium on June 24, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

He is particularly fond of the two youngsters Korir and Bett who will be making their debuts in the World Championships. He sees them as potential replacements when he finally hangs his spikes.

“As a country we are proud that have so many upcoming athletes. As we are getting old, we hope in a few years we will be passing over the baton to them and it is good we are competing with them so that they get to learn and get experience especially in this upcoming major championship,” Rudisha commented.

He has advised them to ensure they leave a mark in London, noting that there is huge prestige that comes with the tag of a World Champion.

“It not only adds to your profile as an athlete, but it also motivates you to do better. They should strive to do well because this is a mission that they have been sent to by the country,” Rudisha, a career police officer added.

-Caution on Nijel-

Nijel Amos of Botswana, David Rudisha of Kenya and Musaeb Balla of Qatar cross the finish line in the men’s 800m semi-final during day two of the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 23, 2015. PHOTO/IAAF/Getty Images

He has cautioned them against an on form Nijel Amos with the Botswana national having finished second to Rudisha in London while he didn’t perform as well in the Rio Olympics last year.

Amos has a season’s best of 1:43.18, coincidentally set in London during the IAAF Diamond League. Apart from the win in the United Kingdom, Amos has also won in Rabat and Paris while he finished a distant 11th in his first race of the season in Rome in June.

“Amos is a strong competitor, I know him because I have raced against him several times. He was second behind me in London when he also set a World Junior Record. He is an experienced championship runner and he is someone we have to be careful about,” Rudisha advised.

The world record holder will now shift his attention to preparations for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia where he hopes to finally pick his first ever gold at that event. Rudisha also hopes to maintain his form until the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.