WILL FIGHT FOR MY CROWN: Rudisha vows to reclaim title, dares opposition in Rio

By JONATHAN KOMEN: Tuesday, August 2nd 2016 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Athletics
David Lekuta Rudisha of Kenya celebrates winning the men's 800 metres final during the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing

The writing is on the wall. And in a fortnight, the jury will deliver a landmark ruling on who is the real world’s 800m king.

Questions linger on whether ‘King’ David Rudisha can weather the expected challenge on his reign at the Olympic Games that start in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday.

Rudisha, the world 800m record holder and Olympic champion, faces an onslaught from teammates and a handful of global stars as he guns for a second bite at the cherry.

Ferguson Rotich, fourth at the Beijing worlds, has beaten Rudisha in two races – Shanghai and Stockholm Diamond League meetings – and the national trials in Eldoret, where 2014 world junior champion Alfred Kipketer won.

Rudisha finished fifth in Shanghai (1:46.24) and fourth in Stockholm (1:45.69) while Rotich won both Shanghai (1:45.68) and Stockholm (1:45.07) while Kipketer (1:45.93) finished third in Shanghai.

But Rudisha, who set a world leading time of 1:43.35 in Istvan Gyulai Memorial race in Szekesfehervar in Hungary, has dared his rivals to brace for tough duel in the Samba nation.

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“The performance impressed me a lot. In fact it gave me the confidence that I am heading in the right direction towards defending my title in Rio.

"I expect that everything will be different. In championships, anything can happen and it’s nobody’s race,” said Rudisha.

He is confident of a good show in Rio despite a third-finish at the national trials behind Kipketer and Rotich.

“Yes, I did not win at the national trials. But remember I lost to Rotich in trials for Beijing last year and then went ahead to win gold. So, there are no worries,” said Rudisha.

The Kenyan charges need to be at their best to counter fast-rising Frenchman Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, winner in Rabat and London meets as well as runner up in Birmingham and Stockholm Diamond League races.

“I will devise a good running strategy. I am a front runner and always dictate the pace in most races, which has helped me devise a winning formula,” he said.

It will be interesting to see Rudisha taking on Frenchman Pierre-Ambroise Bosse and Botswana’s Olympic silver medalist Nijel Amos, who have fired warning shots.

“I am training hard and the shape is picking up so well. I think in the next three weeks I will be in top form and I want to improve to gold in Rio. I want to run 1:42,” Amos told Feverpitch at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park during the Muller Anniversary Games in London.

He added: “I tried to push in Beijing but I did not perform well. It was not my day.”

But Pierre-Ambroise Bosse vowed to change pecking order. “I can now take anybody around this world. I have done a lot of work already and I am ready for them fully. Beating Nijel Amos here stands out as a good sign. I am ready for anyone,” he said in London.

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