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Rudisha praised for setting 800m Africa mark

By | Published Wed, September 9th 2009 at 00:00, Updated Wed, September 9th 2009 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Joseph Ngure

Retired 800m runner Sammy Koskei has congratulated David Lekuta Rudisha for setting a new African record in the two laps event.

And veteran track coach Colm O’Connell said the 1:42.01 time set on Sunday night could be lowered with proper preparation.

Koskei, at 27, set the previous mark of 1:42.28 in Cologne, Germany, in 1984. The world record, 1:41.11, was set at the same venue by the now IAAF Ambassador Wilson Kipketer.

Rudisha, son of Daniel Rudisha of the 4x400m quartet that won a silver medal at the 1968 Mexico Games, is now the fourth fastest runner of all time after Kipketer, Sebastian Coe and Joachim Cruiz who managed 1:41.11, 1:41.73 and 1:41.77.

Rudisha, 20, an alumnus of St Francis Kimuron Secondary in Keiyo North, broke the 25-year continental record in the rather low key Rieti Grand Prix.

Kenya’s David Rudisha reacts after winning the men’s 800m final at the IAAF Grand Prix athletics meet in Rieti on Sunday. Rudisha won with a time of 1 minute 42.01sec, an African record. [PHOTO: REUTERS]

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Taken long

"It has taken long for the record to be broken. I am happy it was done by my fellow Kenyan, and I congratulate him," said Koskei, 52, from his farm in Kapsabet.

He added that it was a good gesture for sports since records are there to be broken. "We need to encourage young athletes to aim higher and not just winning races," said the veteran runner.

"I did not expect the record to fall in Rieti, the track is open and windy. It means the runner is in top shape and unfortunate he was eliminated in the semis at the World Championships," added Koskei, now a farmer and sports administrator in Nandi.

Rudisha, also the 2006 world junior champion, was entered in the meet at the 11th hour after his good show in Brussels on Friday night. His coach, O’Connell, said the athlete picked up late in the season after being out most of last year.

"He did not have a good season last year as he suffered an injury just when the national trials for Olympics were about to be held. He was also busy with his national exams," said the Irish clergy, a volunteer teacher at Tambach Teachers College.

Rudisha said his target was to run a sub-42 this season. Just as Koskei consented, O’Connell did not expect a lot in Rieti since the Grand Prix was not a high profile meet.

one more race

The coach for athletes from schools and colleges did not expect the former decathlete to go for a world record soon saying he was still young.

"It is possible he can attempt the global record in future. But as it took Kipketer (Wilson) a number of years, he has to move steadily and plan well," O’Connell told FeverPitch in Iten where Rushisha, Commonwealth Games 5,000m champion Augustine Choge and Isaac Songok, train.

Rudisha has one more race in the Thessalonica, Greece, before closing the season and plan for next year.

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