The Kenyan clocked the fastest 800m in the world this year.
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
NEW YORK — One world lead, two meet records, and countless season bests in the distance events made for an exciting meet here at the adidas Grand Prix, highlighted by world champion David Rudisha’s 1:41.74 800m – the fastest time ever recorded on USA soil. The meet was the second and final meet of the Samsung Diamond League to be held in the United States this year.
Rudisha, making his American debut, went out with pacesetter Matt Scherer, hitting 49.09 seconds for 400m. Once Scherer stepped off, it was all the Rudisha show, as the lanky Kenyan began gapping the rest of the field by nearly ten meters down the backstretch.
“I decided to push a little bit,” said the 2011 IAAF World Champion at 800m.
Rudisha ran the rest of the race alone, coming down the final straight in typical fashion — fingers pointed straight, elbows pumping, a grimace etched across his face.
That grimace soon changed to a smile when the world record holder crossed the finish in 1:41.74, the fastest time run in the world this year and the ninth-fastest in history.
“It was a good race,” said Rudisha, stopping at that. After a brief period of laughter, he continued, “I was expecting to do a fast race today.”
Running lower than his predicted 1:42 (a time he had told reporters he was aiming for on a conference call last month), Rudisha caught the eye of many fellow elite athletes.
“That was unbelievable, a great performance,” said Bernard Lagat, the winner of the 1500m contested earlier in the day. “Count me as a fan of his.”
Lagat also noted that he believes Rudisha could have lowered his own world record of 1:41.01 if he had attempted to do so this afternoon. Rudisha tried to avoid thinking about that.
“No, I was just expecting to do something like 1:42,” he said. “I felt very strong.”
Behind the 23-year-old Rudisha was Alfred Kirwa Yego, finishing second in 1:44.49, and Andrew Osagie in third, 1:44.61. Robby Andrews, the highly touted American making his debut in an adidas kit, took fifth in 1:45.06. Abubaker Kaki pulled up and stopped at 450m, unable to continue.
“I did exactly what I wanted to do. I didn’t get second and I didn’t get third, but I got experience I need,” said Andrews, who grew up in nearby New Jersey and got a warm reception from the crowd.
In other events, a meet record was set by 19-year-old Ethiopian Fantu Magiso, who clocked 1:57.48 for the women’s 800m. Similar to Rudisha, once the rabbit pulled off it was all Magiso.
“I am happy for today, today is a good time,” said Magiso, who ran her final 400m in 59.36 seconds. “I train very, very hard in altitude so maybe someday I am going to be champion. An Olympic champion.”
World 1500m champion Jenny Simpson had an off day, finishing last amongst eight competitors in 2:05.79.
“I’m disappointed,” Simpson told reporters. “I wanted to run better today. I’m ahead of where I was last year.”
American Lagat won the 1500m down the homestretch, breaking the tape in 3:34.63. The performance, Lagat says, further solidifies his decision to run only the 5000m at the U.S. Olympic Trials later this month.
“It told me I’m strong, my speed is back, and I am confident now that I can do well in the 5000m, especially when it comes to everybody at the bell and the kick,” he said.
Tirunesh Dibaba made it two wins in two weeks by taking the 5000m over compatriot and key rival Meseret Defar in 14:50.80. Off of a slow early pace, Dibaba showed her tactical mastery by methodically tightening the screws on Defar in the final kilometers. She ran her last three laps in 66.92, 64.54 and 61.54. Dibaba said she still wasn’t sure whether she will double in both the 5000m and 10,000m at the Olympics; she already has qualified for the 10,000m with her win at last week’s Prefontaine Classic in a world-leading 30:24.39.
Cami Chapus and Bernie Montoya won the Girl’s and Boy’s High School adidas Dream Mile events, respectively. Chapus ran, 4:39.64, a personal best, to earn her second title in three years. Montoya, on the other hand, won his first Dream Mile, capping off a successful junior season.
“This is a dream,” said Montoya, from Yuma, Ariz. “This has to be the best thing that’s happened in my life.”