Rudisha aims high

Olympic champion targets World Championships
Last Updated 28 September 2012, 16:50 IST

 A smile perpetually stays on the face of David Lekuta Rudisha. His Olympic gold medal with a world record in the 800M in London has elevated him to a different plane but the Kenyan is happy maintaining a low key. He makes light of having no elaborate celebratory acts like an Usain Bolt or a Mo Farah but is deservedly proud of his achievements.

Far from being satiated, the 23-year-old promises to continue his quest to discover new domains, his sight already fixed on Rio Olympics.

Rudisha took the athletics world by a storm by becoming the first man to break a world record at the London Games, clocking a brilliant 1:40.91 in the final, improving his own two-year world record by one tenth of a second.

“It was the best moment of my life,” smiled Rudisha after watching the video of his Olympic run. “It was my first time in Olympics and I was going there to win. I was already a world record holder and world champion but an Olympic medal was missing,” said Rudisha, who is here as brand ambassador of the Airtel Delhi Half-Marathon.

"In our community (Masai tribe), 22-year-old men are considered warriors. So they say that I killed a lion by breaking the world record.”

Rudisha knew he was in a “world record shape” in London during the Kenyan trials at the high altitude in Nairobi, where he clocked 1:42.12.

“Before the warm ups for the final in London, I told my manager that if I finish the first 400M in 49 seconds, I can push in the last 400 to finish the race in 1:41,” said Rudisha, who had previously smashed the world record twice in 2010 in Berlin (1:41.09) and Rieti (1:41.01).

“I will now like to maintain my level. There are many athletes who have gone on to win Olympic medal more than once. I am already focussing on winning the World Championship in Moscow in 2013 and 2016 Rio Olympics.”

Rudisha draws inspiration from his father Daniel, a former 400M runner who had anchored Kenya to an Olympic silver medal in the 4x400M in 1968.

“My father said if you want to be an athlete you have to do better than me. I can now say that I am better in Olympics because of the gold medal. He wants me to achieve more. He is the one who inspires me.”

Ever since the London Olympics, many have been dreaming of a race between Bolt and Rudisha. Asked how he rated his chances, Rudisha, who called Bolt his good friend, said: “There is a fifty-fifty chance. Bolt is really fast but I am better in long distance.”

Rudisha said Indian athletes need “motivation” to perform better. “They need good infrastructure and training facilities. Like in India, where youngsters look upto Sachin Tendulkar for inspiration, we look upto our great Olympians.”

(Published 28 September 2012, 16:50 IST)

Follow us on