Confident and balanced Rudisha in Monaco ahead of Daegu

Confident and balanced Rudisha in Monaco ahead of Daegu

Provided by IAAF


Monte-Carlo – World 800m record holder David Rudisha of Kenya was a picture of confidence this morning at a press conference in the Fairmont Hotel in Monte-Carlo, ahead of tomorrow’s Herculis 2011, the tenth leg of this year’s 14 meeting  Samsung Diamond League.

An enormous banner advertising the on-going World Backgammon Championships is currently draped across the foyer of the prestigious Fairmont Monte-Carlo. The venue which was formerly known as The Grand Hotel has played host to the global title event of one of the world’s oldest board games since 1979, with the 2011 championships reaching their conclusion today with the main finals starting at 2.30pm local time (CET).

Yet while the best backgammon players on the planet were preparing for their final battles, only a few metres away in an adjacent room, in front of the international athletics media Rudisha was setting-out his own World title ambitions this summer, and it was abundantly clear that it was no game for the 22-year-old Kenyan.

Rudisha having taken the national 800m championship title with three confident races last weekend, culminating in his 1:43.76 victory on Saturday (16), has already booked himself on the Kenyan team plane to Daegu, Korea, where the  IAAF World Championships will take place from 27 August to 4 September.

However, Rudisha who twice smashed the World record last year, has three further rounds in Daegu to negotiate, the last one as the winner, before he can claim the mantle of World champion. Therefore as the championships are now little more than a month away it was not surprising those possible memories of his first unsuccessful attempt at the World title two years ago in Berlin was one of the chief talking points today.

“It was really cold out there”

In 2009, as a former World Junior champion and one of the rising stars of the two lap event, Rudisha was disappointed not to have reached the final. Was his memory of what happened in Berlin something that burdened him now?

“No, there was nothing I could have done, the weather was the reason (for non-qualification) and some things you can’t control,” confirmed the modest and quietly spoken World record breaker.

“An hour before (the semi-final) it started raining heavily and so we didn’t have a good warm-up for the race. Rain delayed the start a little and that affected me. It was really cold out there”…these situations help to “confuse yourself, confuse your moral.”

Increased motivation

On reflection Rudisha is sure that the upset of Berlin will in the long term be of assistance to his title ambitions in Daegu.

Berlin “made me stronger, it gave me increased motivation to win my races, beat the guys who beat me there and break the World record.”

His frustration about the failure in Berlin directly led to his breaking of the continental record in Rieti (1:42.01, 6 Sep 2009) a few weeks after the World Championships, which in turn made him realise that the World record itself was a realistic possibility.

“The African record at the end of 2009 (season) was a very important step, as it made me know that I could come close to 1:41 and so the World record was possible for 2010.”

Settled backdrop

It is clear that Rudisha, who received the World Athlete of the Year award in Monte-Carlo last November, is a different runner to the one who finished third in the third and final heat of the 800m semi-finals in Berlin on 21 August 2009. In fact it’s true to say he’s a different man altogether.

Rudisha, a police officer by training, last December married Elizabeth Naanyu and they are the proud parents of a one and half year-old child, Charin Seyanoi.

“It’s good to find a balance in your life,” commented Rudisha about the joys of his new family circumstances and whether it might alter his sporting ambitions and even deflect his World title focus.

“They offer me moral support, they encourage me and want me to achieve my goals… and working together as a family this helps me. Life is good.”

Based on his two World records last year, “there is a lot of pressure and expectation (about Daegu) but I don’t think much about what I have done, it’s done.”

The Athletics World Championships is perhaps far removed from the games of dice and the strategic movement of pieces currently being played out on the backgammon boards of Monte-Carlo but as in all aspects of life there is always an element of luck involved.

In Berlin, luck dealt the then 20-year-old Rudisha an unhelpful, in fact an exceptionally cold and wet, virtual roll of the dice, which the more experienced athletes handled better than he.

Two years on and Rudisha exudes a serious confidence that leads one to conclude that even if the weather was to intervene negatively in Daegu that he now possesses the confidence and experience to remain in charge and achieve his sporting destiny.

Tomorrow at Herculis, assured of the warm and sunny weather of the Côte d'Azur, and paced by his training partner Sammy Tangui, Rudisha confidently expects a good pace and to lower his current world lead (1:43.46).

Chris Turner for the IAAF