World class Rudisha has a chance at immortality

For some, it was one of the greatest races ever run, for many it may not have even been a blip on their radar; about an hour and a half before Usain Bolt became the first man to win the 200m at consecutive Olympic Games, David Rudisha ran the fastest ever 800m recorded. The world record at the London Games meant Rudisha has the top three and six of the eight fastest times ever run at said distance.

The spectacular nature of his Olympic race stems from the fact that it was the first time anyone had broken 101 seconds at 800m. While the difficulty in that might be hard to gauge for non-mathematicians, it means Rudisha averages a little over ten seconds for eight consecutive 100m sprints. Even the man himself found it difficult to realise the pace he was setting.

“It is very hard to determine how fast you are actually running but when you are motivated and running a fast race anything can happen. In London I gave everything and was left with nothing so I was expecting quite a fast time. I didn’t run the first lap as fast as I wanted so I really pushed myself in the second lap so I could break the record,” said Rudisha.

People now want to know if he could be the first to run 800m under 100 seconds and go from world-class to immortal. During Roger Bannister’s quest to run a sub four minute mile in 1954, many people thought not only was it an impossible achievement but if it was possible, it would result in certain death for the runner. While Rudisha’s attempt might not generate the same amount of prayer and handwringing, it would certainly bring accolades that would equal Bannister. And given that Rudisha has ticked all the boxes in his career thus far, is it an impossible task for him?

“That is the question that so many people are asking now. But my current world record is still a long way from being under 100 seconds. To reduce that, one second is between seven and eight meters so that would be very hard for me. We are still looking forward and I hope I still have a lot of good years left. We are going to try to see how fast I can go and I don’t want to promise anything but it is possible because I can still get better,” said Rudisha.

Besides an attempt at another world record, there is another potential step in his career. It is spoken about in hushed and hopeful tones backstage at Diamond League athletics events. It is a pipe dream some say, while others consider it to be a mouthwatering finale to two glittering careers; David Rudisha racing Usain Bolt over 400m.

The logistics would be messy and the training time consuming, but the payday would be huge, and likewise, the prestige. Could the showdown ever take place? Rudisha’s coach, Brother Colm O’Connell, is uncertain.

“The way David runs the 800m is very unique and for him to change to 400m would mean a complete change in style for him. At the moment it would be a big risk to start running 400m at the elite level. Bolt is sticking to defending his existing medals in the next Olympics also. They are both elite athletes and will be worrying about their own events. I’d be really cautious about David getting involved other than a once-off to see who would win,” said O’Connell.

Rudisha versus Bolt may just be a distant dream but their spectacular achievements this year are not. Whatever Rudisha decides to do in the build-up to the next Olympics, you can guarantee he will make his decision very, very fast. That has been his style so far anyway.

Will Slattery

Image Credit: Sportsfile

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