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RUDISHA STARTS TITLE DEFENCE: Chepeng'etich also in action in 1,500m

ATHLETICS By Bismarck Mutahi in Rio de Janeiro | August 12th 2016
Kenya's David Lekuta Rudisha runs in round one of the men’s 800m at the World Athletic Championships at the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Olympic champion David Rudisha has not been in the best of form coming into the Olympics.
The world record holder has lost in a number of Diamond League races to compatriot Ferguson Rotich and also lost to youngster Alfred Kipketer at the Olympic trials in Eldoret.

But despite the poor showing by his high standards, Rudisha still comes to the Olympics with a world leading time (1:43.35) and that means his rivals will not be taking him lightly.

His London Olympics exploits are still fresh in the minds of many of his competitors. The jaw-dropping 1:40.91 doesn’t happen often in the Diamond League meetings, leave alone the Olympics.

And despite his erratic form, Rudisha is not concerned as he starts the defence of his title today at 10:10am (4:10pm Kenyan time). Actually, he will be among the first Kenyans to take to the track in Rio Olympics.
“You always feel the pressure being the champion, especially going to a race knowing all the competitors are out to get your medal,” he told IAAF.

“But I am also going there ready to do my best to defend my title and pick up that gold.”

Since arriving here, the lanky runner from Kilgoris in Narok County has kept a low profile. Not many know what to expect from the 800m king.

A scheduled press conference with his kit sponsors Adidas was called off at the last minute on Wednesday, but today fans and the media alike will be able to see what kind of form Rudisha is in even though it is just the first round of the 800m.

As usual, the threat for Rudisha in the two-lap race will be regular campaigner Adam Kszczot of Poland and Olympic silver medallist Nigel Amos of Botswana.

Youngster Kipketer will also be among those to be counted alongside Rotich.

Meanwhile, Faith Chepng’etich is Kenya’s hope for a gold medal in the women’s 1,500m.
Chepng’etich will be racing in the first round of the competition today at 8:30pm (2:30am Kenyan time on Saturday).

The world silver medallist will be hoping to take advantage of the woes that have faced world champion Genzebe Dibaba, which saw her coach arrested over doping allegations in Spain.

Chepng’etich has been in top form in the Diamond League meetings and she is yet to lose this season and also holds the world leading time of 3:56.41.

She will be battling for glory alongside Viola Lagat and Nancy Chepkwemoi.

Alphas Kishoyan, Alex Sampao and Raymond Kibet will also be in action at 3:03am Kenyan time in the 400m heats.

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