David Rudisha achieves history by becoming the first athlete to hold world and Olympic 800m titles as well as the world record
The men’s 200m was anticipated as the climax of the seventh day of athletics where Usain Bolt, in his own words, was attempting to become a legend but David Rudisha first achieved legendary status with a performance which surely will be remembered as one of the greatest in Olympic history.
Running in a style not to dissimilar to previous world record-holder Wilson Kipketer when he was at his peak, Rudisha oozed on the pace from the gun, passing through 200m in 23.4 and 400m in 49.28 before the Kenyan kicked again down the back-straight, passing 600m in 1:14.30 which was 0.29 faster than his corresponding split when he set his previous world record in Rieti in 2010.
As great as Kipketer was, he never did what Rudisha achieved tonight, which was setting a world record at a major outdoor championships as his gun-to-tape 800m victory was rewarded with a world record of 1:40.91.
To underline the rarity of what Rudisha achieved, this was the first time a world record has been set in a middle-distance major outdoor championships race since 1980 when Nadezhda Olizarenko won the women’s 800m on home-soil at the Moscow Olympics.
This was also just the second time in post-war Olympic history a world record has been set in the men’s 800m final after Alberto Juantorena ran 1:43.50 in 1976.
Rudisha created more history by becoming the first athlete in history to simultaneously hold Olympic and world titles as well as the world record.
After the race, Rudisha commented: “I am very happy. I’ve waited for this moment for a very long time. To come here and get a world record is unbelievable. I had no doubt about winning. Today the weather was beautiful. I decided to go for it.”
As imperious as Rudisha was this evening, the Kenyan might not go unchallenged in upcoming seasons.
The silver medallist was 18-year-old reigning world junior champion Nijel Amos from Botswana, who didn’t even make the medals at the World Youth Championships last year. His PB this time last year stood at 1:47.28 but he came through strongly behind Rudisha in 1:41.73 to move to equal third on the world all-time lists with Sebastian Coe.
Timothy Kitum, who doesn’t turn 18 until November, took bronze in 1:42.53 to move into the world’s all-time top-ten.
What’s more, the silver and bronze medallists are also faster than Rudisha at their respective ages.
This was the greatest 800m in depth as every finisher set a best time for placing record. Andrew Osagie decimated his PB with a 1:43.77 performance but this could only suffice for eighth although he moves to fourth on the UK all-time lists behind Coe, Peter Elliott and Steve Cram.