• David Rudisha storms to gold in 1min 40.91sec
• Kenyan runner avoids wild celebrations at finish
They say David Rudisha is ‘the greatest runner you’ve never heard of’. That is the line that has been rolled out by the headline writers at the BBC, Vanity Fair and a few others in recent weeks. You know him now. Rudisha, the greatest 800m runner in history, broke his own world record at the Olympic Stadium on Thursday night. He became the first man in history to run two laps of the track in under 1min 41sec, finishing in 1:40.91.
For a lap and a half, the 80,000 crowd, already giddy with anticipation of seeing Usain Bolt race Yohan Blake in the 200m final later that night, seemed to have been silenced, as through they were stunned by what Rudisha was doing. He led the race from the first bend to the finish line, running a series of split times that defied both belief and sense – 23.30sec for 200m, 49.28sec for 400m, 1min 14.30sec for 600m. On and on he went, his long. muscular stride carrying him smoothly along the track. Finally, as he kicked again around the final bend, it became clear that this was really happening, and the 80,000 erupted into life.
If you did not know Rudisha, it is only because he keeps such a low profile. There were no histrionics on the startline, and no exuberant celebrations at the finish. The only difference was that his smile was a little bigger at one end than it had been at the other. “I am very happy,” he said after he had completed a lap of honour together with his Kenyan teammate Timothy Kitum, who took bronze. “I’ve waited for this moment for a very long time. To come here and get a world record is unbelievable. I had no doubt about winning. Today the weather was beautiful – I decided to go for it.” Indeed it was. Outside the sun was setting, turning the sky a colour that must have been familiar to Rudisha, a twilight shade that he grew up with each night in Iten, up in the Rift Valley. It was a glorious day, falling towards the end of a wonderful Games, and it helped inspire him to produce one of the defining moments of the 2012 Olympics. …