In the 2012 London Olympics, a 23-year old Kenyan 800 meters athlete- David Rudisha, ran what is up to this day referred to by many as the most iconic race in the field history.
He broke the 800 meters World Record after becoming the first athlete to run the two miles event under one minute and forty-one seconds after clocking (1:40:91).
David Rudisha is undoubtedly the greatest 800 meters athlete of all time, having the top three fastest times in the event’s history, going further, he has six of the top ten fastest times in the event and even more further he has ten of the top twenty fastest times in the event. This is nothing short of greatness.
How good was David Rudisha, how did he become the iconic athlete that he is? Walk with me through the incredible story of David Rudisha.
Born on December 17, 1988, Rudisha had the athlete’s DNA in his blood. More so, than many other legendary athletes. His father Daniel Rudisha, was a Silver medalist in the 1968 Olympics whilst his mother Naomi Rudisha, was a former 400 meters hurdler.
“When I was growing up, to be honest, I fell in love with my father’s Silver medal and kept asking myself, whether I would get one myself in the future, this shaped my athlete career since it motivated me.” He revealed via IAAF.
Rudisha established his running career at the St. Francis Kimuron High School in Elgeyo-Marakwet County. He went on to set his career’s wheels in motion after he won the 800 m titles at the 2006 World Junior Championships as well as the 2008 and 2010 African Championships.
In September 2009, Rudisha smashed the 800 meters African record (1:42:28), after running (1:42:01) in the IAAF Grand Prix meeting in Rieti, Italy. The 25-year-old African record was held by his compatriot Sammy Koskei.
Rudisha, a 6 ft. 3 athlete, used his body height to his advantage, with huge strides that covered a huge amount of ground while running. He combined this with a lethal and commanding pace that his opponents couldn’t keep up with. He was a force to reckon with!
On August 2010, Rudisha broke Wilson Kipketer’s 800 meters world record two days before the anniversary of that record with a time of 1:41.09 while racing in the ISTAF Berlin meeting in Germany.
Fast forward to 2012, the 800 meters athlete was in the form of his life, he earned a spot in the 2012 London Olympics after winning the national trials with an altitude record (1:42:12).
The history-defining moment dawned, it was the London Olympics! The rest was history after Rudisha did the unthinkable by running sub 1:41 seconds which no one had ever achieved.
He was in no man’s land, he broke his own 800 meters World record (1:41:09) by running (1:40:91).
“That race I was well prepared. I wanted to do something unique. I wanted to take a risk after the one lap which I ran for 49.2 seconds, I decided to push myself to unprecedented limits. Before the race I was targeting a 1:41. The World Record was not in my mind. I was so surprised that I had broken the World Record.” He said in an interview with IAAF.
In 2013 and 2014, Rudisha would be inactive after suffering a huge blow in his career after picking a finicky knee injury that halted his second to none- momentum in the event. Who knows what he could have achieved in the two seasons, it was a shame that the injury came at that particular time.
“In 2013 and 2014, when I had that pain in my knee, it was tough. I love running, but it is a short career. So no matter how hard it is, no matter how painful it is, I thought to myself: ‘If you love something you can do it.’ If it was not for the love of sport I would have struggled to come back.” He admitted via Guardian.
However, due to sheer unerring character, Rudisha would make a comeback. He would go on to win the 2015 World Championships held in Beijing in what was a slow race from his pedigree. He ran a time of 1:45:84 restoring his name in the limelight.
In 2016, during the Rio Olympics, Rudisha would make one last dance at the top. He won his second Olympic gold medal and defined that moment as the best in his life since he had to surmount a lot for that moment.
“It is great to win my second gold. It’s so great. I am so excited. It is the greatest moment of my career.” He said after the race
He amazingly ran the fastest time 1:42:16, since the 2012 London Olympics.
It is one thing to run the fastest times but it is completely different to be successful during big moments and in both these categories, Rudisha is the all-time greatest. Until next time, it’s a bye for me.