Athletics: David Rudisha eager to defend his Olympic 800m title

David Rudisha celebrating the win in the men’s 800m race at London Olympics on Aug 9, 2012.
David Rudisha celebrating the win in the men’s 800m race at London Olympics on Aug 9, 2012.PHOTO: ST FILE

ITEN, KENYA (AFP) - World 800 metres record-holder David Rudisha said on Wednesday he had fully recovered from injury and was ready to defend his Olympic title in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

"This is what I'm looking forward to," Rudisha said in Iten, a high altitude training ground for some of the world's best distance runners. "I know it's going to be tough, nothing is easy and everybody is looking for that title, but we are going to do our best."

After dominating the race for two consecutive years, a knee injury took Rudisha out of contention for the whole of 2013 and cast doubt on his Olympic defence.

However he bounced back last year to reclaim the world title in Beijing in August. Rudisha, 27, said his recovery and training were going well.

"So far so good. My body has responded very well. That problem was actually a tough one to overcome physically and mentally," Rudisha said, adding that he still sometimes feels "that nagging pain".

Rudisha's coach, Colm O'Connell, said the runner's confidence was also back.

"I think 2015 was important for Rudisha, in the sense that the victory in Beijing did re-establish him," he said.

O'Connell said Beijing was "a stepping stone to Rio" and that Rudisha was now "certainly in the mix" although he conceded that the runner "has to fight to regain his position as the king of 800m running".

Hot on Rudisha's heels - or perhaps in front of him - are contenders including former world and Commonwealth champion Nijel Amos of Botswana, Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia and Amel Tuka of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who set the fastest 800m time in the world in 2015.