David Rudisha Is Unstoppable At 800m

David Rudisha won his first World Championship gold Tuesday night. Photo: The Star

American Nick Symmonds was disappointed with his fifth-place showing.

By David Monti (c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

David Rudisha won his first World Championship gold Tuesday night. Photo: The Star

DAEGU — Surging to the lead from the gun and never relinquishing it, Kenya’s David Rudisha handily won his first world title at the 13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics here on Tuesday evening.

His was the first medal for a Kenyan man in these championships; Kenyan women have won seven. Rudisha, who has not been beaten over 800 meters in the last two seasons, was the first athlete to break from the pole, settling quickly into his stride in lane one.

Despite having the back of his left shoe shredded by the spikes of Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki, Rudisha was never challenged, finishing in 1:43.91. “It was a good show and I was very happy,” the world record holder told reporters after the race. “Today I’m very happy having a fantastic race in front of the crowd, being crowned as the world champion. It’s really a great feeling and I’m very proud.”

Behind Rudisha, Kaki exploded down the homestretch to catch Russia’s Yuriy Borzakovskiy inside of the last five meters to claim the silver medal in 1:44.41, just 9/100ths of a second ahead of the Russian.

Rudisha was impressed with Kaki’s performance. “I respect him because he is also very tough,” Rudisha said. “He’s the reason that when I go back there I have to train hard.”

Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski made an aggressive move to pass America’s Nick Symmonds around the final turn, a move which left Symmonds hemmed in and unable to swing out and start his sprint. Lewandowski saw it as his best chance to make the podium. “I didn’t see Nick in this race,” Lewandowski, the European champion, said. “I was really focused. I was just looking for one guy in front of me. So, I only concentrate about that. I want to make it the best race ever.”

Lewandowski finished fourth in 1:44.80 with Symmonds fifth in 1:45.12. Symmonds, who was sixth in these championships in 2009 in Berlin, was disappointed. “But you know, you spend all year dreaming about a medal,” Symmonds said. “You don’t dream about fifth place.”

In the other distance final tonight, the women’s 3000m steeplechase, Russia’s Yuliya Zaripova, who won the European Championships last summer under her maiden name Zarudneva, overwhelmed a strong field, including Samsung Diamond League points leader Milcah Cheymos Cheywa to in in a world-leading 9:07.03. The silver medalist from Berlin two years ago, her mark was just outside of the championships record. “Yes, it was as we planned,” Zaripova said, referring to her coach Mikhail Kuznetsov. “Everything went well according to our plan, and I’m satisfied with what happened.”

Zaripova led the entire race, and the others simply couldn’t keep up. However, her fast pace helped Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia push herself to a national record 9:11.97 and a silver medal. “I’m very happy with second place,” Ghribi said in French. “It’s also a great victory for Tunisia.”

Chemos, whom many people thought might win gold tonight, quickly made peace with getting the bronze medal, the same medal she earned in Berlin two years ago. “I’m sure that they (the Kenyan people) were expecting something good for them, but they have to accept, as I have accepted. And God willing, maybe next year I’ll do good.”

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