The 800m world-record holder has one goal: make the Kenyan team.
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
He may be the world record holder, reigning African and world champion, and the two-time IAAF Diamond League winner, but David Rudisha doesn’t see 2012 Olympic success as a given. Indeed, the man who won 34 consecutive 800m races through September of last year before suffering defeat, said today that he must first focus on making the Kenyan team.
“Even in Kenya, we have to make the team, first,” Rudisha reminded reporters on an international conference call today. Speaking from his training base in Iten he added, “In Kenya it’s quite difficult. There is no guarantee, of course. I cannot depend on the selection.”
In 2008, despite showing superb early-season form and winning his first African Championships title at just 19, Rudisha missed the Kenyan Trials with a minor calf injury and had to watch the Olympics on television where he saw compatriot Wilfred Bungei win the gold medal.
“Unlucky, I got injured before the Kenyan Trials and missed the entire season after that,” Rudisha lamented.
Now 23, Rudisha has focused his training first on getting into good shape for his Samsung Diamond League opener in Doha on May 11, then competing successfully in the Kenyan Olympic Trials in July where a victory would assure him of Olympic selection. “I want to cross the line and make the team automatically,” Rudisha said. “If I can do it myself, why don’t I go there and make the team? I think it’s a good way if you are healthy. You can go there and make the team.”
While it seems inconceivable that the Kenyan federation would leave Rudisha off of the Olympic team, his cautious outlook helps keep him focused on his daily training under Brother Colm O’Connell. Rudisha said he typically runs 70 to 80 kilometers per week (a low number for an elite middle distance runner), and he thinks constantly about competing in the Olympics and winning a medal like his father, Daniel, who won silver in the 4 x 400m relay in 1968. He realizes, however, that a step-by-step approach is the best way to achieve his dream.
“Every athlete who competes wants to win Olympics in his career,” Rudisha said. “Going there, I’m not going to lose. I’m going to win that title… At the end of the day when it comes to the final, we will know who trained well.”
Rudisha was vague about his competition plans between Doha and the Olympic Games, saying he would run between one and three races. He did, however, confirm his interest in running enough Diamond League events in order to win his third consecutive Diamond League points title.
“It’s a great thing to win Diamond League,” he said, adding, “racing and competing is part of the preparation for the Olympics, part of sharpening up. I don’t want to change anything from what I am doing.”
Rudisha has run four of the top six 800m times in history (the other two belong to Wilson Kipketer). His world record of 1:41.01 set in Rieti in 2010 came tantalizingly close to going under 1:41.00, something he said is possible. He demurred when asked if a man could break 1:40.00.
“To run sub-1:40 is quite tough,” Rudisha said with a laugh. “I will say in the beginning to do under 1:41 is possible, but to do sub-1:40, I still don’t know. I don’t know who can do that.”