David Rudisha walked onto the track very calmly and deliberately. He had been preparing for this race for sometime. I was watching from the BBC radio office trackside in Engenhao Stadio Olimpico. As the race began, David Rudisha went out behind Alfred Kipkter, and then, made his move with 300 meters to go. His move was strong and deliberate as he ran to his second gold in the Olympic 800 meters. Jonathan Edwards asked me if I thought David Rudishas was the best EVER. After some hemming and hawing, I said yes. In retrospect, I should have agreed right away. David Rudisha has come back from injury and taken three years to slowly build himself back to the stature needed to win an Olympics. Will he do it again? Will we see him in Tokyo 2020?
Stay tuned. Here is the story from Justin Lagat on David Rudisha’s win and its importance to Kenyans.
David Rudisha wins gold in a day of more than one medal for Kenya in Rio
The biggest race for Kenyans on the fourth day of athletics was going to be the men’s 800m; two medals were being anticipated by many. In all the eight lanes, Kenyans occupied three of them leaving out two for the US athletes and the other three to Algeria, France and Poland.
As soon as the gun went off, Alfred Kipketer went out – perhaps a bit too hard – crossing the first 200m in 23.2 seconds and started to get swallowed just after the first 400m that he crossed in 49.23seconds. Rudisha, who had stayed just behind Kipketer started to push harder with 200m to go as Kipketer started paying for his early pace by slowly fading towards the back.
Rudisha was able to maintain a strong finish to win the race in a seasonal best time of 1:42.15, which is also a world leading time. He was able to defend his Olympic title and remain as the reigning king of the 800m. Perhaps we shall soon hear more talks again about the possibility of him competing against Usain Bolt in the 400m race! Taoufik Makhloufi finished second in 1:42.61 and Clayton Murphy finished third in 1:42.93, all of them recording their seasonal best time up to the sixth finisher. Other Kenyans; Ferguson Rotich and Kipketer finished in fifth and seventh respectively. Boris Berian, who many thought was going to be Rudisha’s biggest challenger, finished eighth.
The first medal of the day for Kenya had come from Hyvin Kiyeng who won a silver medal in the women 3000m steeplechase after Kenyan-born, Ruth Jebet of Bahrain ran a very fast race and stayed way ahead of the field to win a gold medal for her new country. For a moment, as Kiyeng came towards the bell, Emma Coburn of the US caught up with her and it appeared as though it was going to be a bronze medal for Kenya, but she fought harder from the last 200m and began to open some gap again. Emma Coburn finished third to take the bronze.
This race generated a lot of debate among Kenyan fans on social media. Others were asking whether Jebet can be persuaded to return and run for Kenya again, others wanted to know the circumstances that led to her running for Bahrain while others wanted to understand whether Kenyan athletes were being rewarded and celebrated enough in their own country and whether this could be the reason why they are opting to represent other countries in order to be able to fulfill their dreams in life and help their families.
Earlier on in the day, all the three Kenyans in the men 3000m steeplechase advanced to the finals, which should not be news. I am not sure which lane Ezekiel Kemboi finished on as he crossed the finish line in third position, but I did notice that he had not shaved his hair yet. Two heats were won by US athletes; Evan Jager and Hillary Bor while another heat was won by Conseslus Kipruto. The other Kenyan who got through to the finals is Brimin Kipruto. There will be three Kenyans and three Americans in the finals, among others, and should make an interesting race.