David Rudisha's Olympics & world record 800m win 'unbelievable'

The world may have tuned in to see Usain Bolt on Thursday, but they also saw another athlete guarantee his place in Olympic history.

Bolt took all the headlines with his stunning 200m gold, but it was the quiet and unassuming David Rudisha who became the first man to break a world record at the London Games with an equally brilliant performance in the 800m.

The 23-year-old Kenyan may have entered the Olympic Stadium under the radar of many this week, but he showed just why he was labelled by Lord Coe as "probably on paper the most impressive track and field athlete at these Games" as he broke his own world record.

David Rudisha

  • Born: 17 December 1988
  • Medals: 800m Olympic champion 2012; 800m world champion 2011; African 800m champion 2008, 2010; 800m world junior champion 2006
  • 800m personal best: 1:40.91 (world record)
  • 400m PB: 45.50 seconds

He also became the first man to run inside one minute 41 seconds, clocking 1:40.91.

Former Olympic medallist and BBC commentator Steve Cram was in no doubt about the quality of Rudisha's display in a race which saw seven of the eight runners set personal bests.

Such was the pace of the race that British runner Andrew Osagie - who finished last - set a new best of 1:43.77, a time which would have won him gold in Beijing, Athens and Sydney.

Cram said: "Simply unbelievable! That's the greatest ever 800m race anyone has ever run or that I have ever seen.

"What a privilege to be here. He was all on his own. How do you put that into words?

"David Rudisha is the Olympic champion. He talked a lot about putting on a show in these Olympics and he has just done that."

And Brendan Foster, Olympic bronze medallist and BBC commentator, said: "What a brilliant runner. He's the athlete that everyone admires."

Analysis

"That was a fantastic run by David Rudisha. What a brilliant runner. He's the athlete that everyone admires. He's trained by an Irish priest and managed by an Australian and lives in Germany. He's the pride of the stadium here."

In his short career, Rudisha has set the three fastest 800m times of all time and managed six of the fastest eight ever.

But before he smashed the record twice in a week at the age of 21, the 800m world record had historically not been an easy record to break.

The time of 1:41.73 set by London Games chief Coe in 1981 stood for more than 16 years before it was matched - and then improved - by Kenyan-born Dane, Wilson Kipketer.

He and Rudisha remain the only men ever to better Coe's figures, while 18-year-old Nijel Amos matched Coe's 31-year-old time in taking silver behind Rudisha in London.

Rudisha missed out on the Beijing Games through injury and revealed after his gold medal ceremony that he and his coach had meticulously plotted his path to the top after that setback.

"Sometimes when you get disappointment it makes you stronger," he said.

Fastest 800m runs in history

  • David Rudisha: 1:40.91
  • David Rudisha: 1:41.01
  • David Rudisha: 1:41.09
  • Wilson Kipketer: 1:41.11
  • Wilson Kipketer: 1:41.24

"I was still young when I missed Beijing. I was favourite to win a medal but I knew I had time. My coach advised me to stay at school and finish my exams. Even if I had gone and won the Olympics, I might not have handled the pressure. So I moved on.

"I missed the final of the World Championships in 2009, but I told the coach I would break the world record in 2010. Which I did.

"Then in 2011 I won the World Championships and now in 2012 it is the Olympics. That is how I have been working."

Perhaps more ominously for the rest of the world was his revelation that he only started learning about sport in 2002.

After 10 years, he has picked it up fairly well. Let's see what he can do in Rio.