Athletics: Rudisha reclaims 800m throne

David Rudisha's face shows the exertion of giving his all as he races to the finish line to win the 800m. The triumph erases the three years of pain and frustration when he was hobbled by a knee injury.
David Rudisha's face shows the exertion of giving his all as he races to the finish line to win the 800m. The triumph erases the three years of pain and frustration when he was hobbled by a knee injury.PHOTO: REUTERS

Knee injury prevented 2013 defence, Bolt and Gatlin on course for another showdown in 200m final tomorrow

BEIJING • Kenya's Olympic champion David Rudisha put three difficult years behind him by regaining the world 800m title while teenager Wang Jianan won China's first-ever world long jump medal yesterday.

Rudisha, still not back at his best after the knee injury that cost him his chance to defend the world title in 2013, kicked for home at the end of the back straight.

He held on to win gold in 1min 45.84sec. The strain of the last 50m was clear on the 26-year-old's face as he held off Pole Adam Kszczot.

There were no huge smiles from the quietly-spoken world record holder after crossing the line, just a single finger raised in celebration.

"This is really special for me," he said. "Despite the fact that I was coming from a bad injury that almost pushed me out of my career... to be back here and to prove to the world that I can win the World Championships, it means a lot."

After being exposed by faster finishers on several occasions since his return from the injury, Rudisha raced out to the front and tried to control the pace.

"The race today was more tactical, I was not going for anything fast," he said.

"I know for the last month I have been working on my speed and I was very confident coming here and I knew that if the pace is slow, I could win the championships."

In the absence of defending champion Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia and London Olympic silver medallist Nijel Amos, who both failed to reach the final, Kszczot won silver in 1:46.08.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's Amel Tuka, who has slashed more than 3sec off his personal best this year, finished third in 1:46.30 to win a first World Championships' medal for his country.

Wang, who turns 19 tomorrow, also made history at the Bird's Nest stadium, taking the long jump bronze with an 8.18m effort.

Britain's Olympic champion Greg Rutherford won his first long jump title in five World Championships' trips after he established an almost unbeatable advantage in his fourth attempt with 8.41m.

Fabrice Lapierre of Australia finished second in 8.24.

There were no medals on offer in the men's 200m yesterday but all eyes were still on Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin.

A tired Bolt and an emotionally fatigued Gatlin progressed towards their second blockbuster sprint showdown of the championships by easing through their heats.

Bolt, who beat Gatlin to retain his 100m title on Sunday, shot out of the blocks. He led for the entire race before easing up over the final 15m to cross the line in 20.28sec.

The Jamaican said he was feeling the effects of the 100m but will be looking to raise the pace in today's semi-finals before peaking for tomorrow's final. He could win a fourth straight 200m gold.

"Tired, tired, tired," said the Olympic champion and world record holder. "Everybody knows the 200 actually means more for me than the 100 so I'm trying to get through the rounds... and using as little energy as possible."

Gatlin, unbeaten in the 200m since 2013 and who owns the fastest time of the year (19.57sec), was even more dominant in the following heat. He maintained his form through the line to win in 20.19sec.

"The race felt good," said the American. "The 100m final was a difficult race for me, also emotionally. I made some mistakes at the end of the race but now I'm going for the 200."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2015, with the headline 'Rudisha reclaims 800m throne'. Print Edition | Subscribe