He admits his training is a little bit behind.
Written by: David Monti
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
After an extraordinary season where he set the world record twice, won the African title, was undefeated at 800 meters, and was named athlete of the year by both the IAAF and Track & Field News, David Rudisha is sticking with the same disciplined approach which brought him so much success in 2010.
Speaking to reporters via conference call today from his training base in Iten where he had just completed an 8-kilometer endurance run with a group of junior athletes, Rudisha admitted that his preparations for the summer season were a “little behind.” But, he said, the IAAF World Championships in Daegu were a long way off, and that he had plenty of time to get ready.
“My training has been good,” he said, sounding more like a coach. “The way I started this year, my progress is coming along very well. Compared to the season last year, I started a little bit late because of the celebrations.” He continued: “I am a little bit behind in my training.”
Rudisha, who turned 22 last December, will open his summer season at the Samsung Diamond League meeting in Doha on May 5. Following a similar path to last year, Rudisha competed twice in Australia in March, clocking 1:43.88 in Melbourne, 1:44.80 in Sydney, and winning both races by comfortable margins. Rudisha sees the Doha meeting as a welcoming and comfortable place for him to begin his long campaign which he hopes will culminate in his first world title.
“Up to now we have not won any world championship title,” he said, reminding reporters that he failed to make the final in the last world championships in Berlin. “The titles are very important to me. When you win the titles people are remembering you.”
Doha, which he called a “beautiful place,” has been good to Rudisha. He first competed there as an 18 year-old in 2007 as the reigning world junior champion, finishing sixth. He won in 2008, was fourth in 2009, and won again in 2010. As in previous years, he likes the meet as a way to test his early season fitness and improve his confidence.
“I just want to take my steps one-by-one, gradually improving, just like last year,” he explained. “In Doha, I expect to run a good race… just to open up.” He added: “That is my main focus.”
Rudisha has been aided in his career by consistent coaching from Brother Colm O’Connell at the St. Patrick’s School in Iten, and by Australian manager James Templeton who was instrumental in helping Rudisha plan his storybook 2010 season. Templeton, who has also managed the career of two-time Olympic medallist Bernard Lagat, has worked with Rudisha since he was a teenager.
“We have been working very well together with James since I was a junior athlete before I was running professionally, before I ran in Beijing in 2006 (at the world junior championships),” Rudisha said. “He has been supporting me in my school and giving me some facility for training. We have been working very well. We have planned everything. He gives me ideas, and then we sit down (and talk).”
Templeton counseled Rudisha to open his season Down Under last year, then progress through invitational meetings in Ostrava and Oslo, before returning to Kenya to compete in his national championships to gain selection for the African Championships which would also be held in Nairobi. Rudisha then returned to Europe to Lausanne, then Heusden where he made his first world record attempt, clocking an African record 1:41.51. He took two weeks away from racing, then won both his preliminary races at the African Championships before winning the gold medal.
Returning to Europe, Rudisha put on a remarkable display of middle distance running, setting the world record in Berlin (1:41.09), winning in Brussels (to lock up the Diamond League points title for his event), lowering his world record in Rieti (1:41.01), then winning the IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup in Split just for good measure. Those accomplishments led to a big celebration back home in Kenya.
“I must say it was really a good celebration,” Rudisha recalled. “It was wonderful. They prepared a very good reception. People were really happy. A lot of people attended that day.”
But Rudisha said that in recent months he has been fully back to the business of training, sometimes watching videos of Sebastian Coe on YouTube for inspiration and reading novels to help him relax. He said that all of his attention was focused on getting the world title, and that it was a mistake for him to focus only on one top rival, like Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki. He and Kaki have faced each other at 800 meters eight times since 2006, and Kaki has a 5-3 record over Rudisha, according to the athletics statistics service Tilastopaja Oy.
“I just want to say that there are other athletes who have been doing well,” he said, mentioning Kenya’s Boaz Lalang and Alfred Kirwa Yego, South Africa’s Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, and Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski. “Sometimes it is not good to focus on one guy.” He continued: “My main aim is not to focus on one person. Most important is to prepare myself to do well in races… That is my main aim.”
After Doha, Rudisha said he planned to compete in the Golden Gala in Rome on May 26, also part of the Samsung Diamond League, and the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava, part of the IAAF World Challenge series. He’ll run 800m in Rome and make his debut at 1000-meters in Ostrava.