Olympics champion and world record holder, David Rudisha effortlessly qualified for Saturday’s final of the men 800m with much to spare as day one of the Kenya Trials for IAAF Beijing World Championships closed on Friday.
The ‘King of 800m running’ who is battling hard to reclaim the throne he vacated following his victory at the 2011 Worlds in Daegu in the face of s furious onslaught led by Botswana’s Nijel Amos gave the sparse crowd a glimpse of what to expect on Saturday when he competes in the final.
Running in his preferred front running style from the gun, Rudisha hardly stepped out of first gear, arriving at the finish in 1:44.20 to lay a marker.
He could afford to decelerate as he came for the line as furiously fast closing Job Kinyor, a Medley Relay silver medallist at the Bahamas IAAF World Relays tried as hard as he could to catch up in vain before coming second in 1:44.60 ahead of Olympics bronze medallist, Timothy Kitum (1:46.00).
It was a huge relief for the 1:40.91 record holder who is only one race away from earning the right to contest for the global title he won in Daegu before injury forced him out of a possible defence in Moscow two years ago.
“I took it easy since it was the semi and all I wanted was to qualify. I’m waiting for tomorrow’s (Saturday) final and I’m glad elite athletes have made it so it will be a good race.
“If I make the team, I will have enough time to prepare myself to be back in top shape. I know it will not be easy at the World Championships but my fans can expect something good from me,” the two-time African and former Continental Cup champion added.
While the home front domination looks sealed, Rudisha is more concerned of working himself to the form that destroyed the entire London 2012 field including silver medallist, Nijel Amos of Botswana who has beaten him times since.
In the first race, Ferguson Rotich, also a silver winner in Bahamas in the Medley came from behind to crush the opposition in the final 100m in a frenetic first semi where the athletes crossed 400m in a punishing 51.00.
As the effects of the high altitude took their toll, the pace dropped drastically in the final lap as Rotich used his cast experience to prevail in the first semi in 1:44.10 ahead of Beijing 2006 World Junior silver medallist, Jackson Kivuva (1:45.0) and World Junior champion Alfred Kipketer who closed the top three in 1:45.2.
“I have never been in the senior team and that is my dream to make the World Championships,” Kipketer underpinned.
-End of reign-
It was the end of an era when David Kimutai finally lost a 20km Race Walking final for the first time in 13 years with Samuel Gathimba taking the honours in 1:23:12. Simon Wachira was second in 1:23:45.
Kimutai, the 43 year-old Kenya Defence Forces veteran was third in 1:24:41 followed home by his eternal bridesmaid, Sylvanus Wekesa (1:29:31) in fourth.
There were no similar upsets in the corresponding women’s race where African and 2010 Commonwealth winner, Grace Wanjiru, stopped the clock in 1:39:53 well clear of second placed Grace Thoithi (1:44:44) as Judith Cherop came for the bronze in 1:53:09.
The Trials will conclude with naming of the Kenyan squad for Beijing.