Rudisha focused only on winning Olympic 800 gold

By RACHEL COHEN AP Sports Writer NEW YORK (AP) -- David Rudisha won't concentrate on running fast this summer. Make no mistake, the 800-meter world-record holder needs to hold a swift pace and summon a fierce finishing kick to win that elusive Olympic gold medal. But his training focuses on simply winning, in whatever time that takes. Seeking to lower his world record would require a different kind of preparation, which might leave him vulnerable to an upset in London. The 23-year-old Kenyan star won a world championship last year, and now every decision he makes revolves around capturing "the only main title I'm still lacking in my career." "I don't want to take any chances of doing anything else before I finish that task," Rudisha said on a conference call Tuesday. In 2010, Rudisha's training was all about the time. He worked on speed and splits, picking fast races to try to break the 13-year-old 800 world record. He accomplished that goal -- twice. In 2011, though, Rudisha honed in on the world championships. What mattered was tactics. His time of 1 minute, 43.91 seconds was nearly 3 seconds off his record of 1:41.01, but it was plenty quick enough for a dominating victory. Now we're in an Olympic year, and again winning takes precedence. "Even if the pace is slow in championships, you can still sprint well and still power in the last 200, which is always the main part when the race is slow," Rudisha said. He must ensure his body and mind are equipped for any scenario. "Championship is a little bit tricky," he said. "You have to be ready for all of these. You have to be ready for slow as well as fast race." Then after the Olympics are over, Rudisha can return to the business of lowering his world record. Setting a new standard demands "good planning," Rudisha said, and the lead-up to a major championship isn't the time for that. Rudisha raced a 400 in Sydney early this year to work on his speed, but now he'll compete only in the 800 so he doesn't lose his rhythm in his signature event. He ran a 1:43.10 in Doha earlier this month and believes he can post a 1:42 at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York City on June 9, his first appearance in the United States. That's exactly two months before the 800 is scheduled to be held in London. As Rudisha's goal of a 1:42 shows, he expects that by now, he should be far along in his training. The fastest 800 ever run on US soil is a 1:42.58 set by Vebjorn Rodal of Norway at the 1996 Olympics. "A 1:42 is not an easy thing to do," Rudisha said. "You have to be ready. You have to have that speed. You have to have that endurance. Everything is almost in position. It's just polishing toward the Olympics." The pressure to win an Olympic medal comes not only from Rudisha's recent success. His father, Daniel, won silver in the 1,600-meter relay at the 1968 Mexico City Games. The son would love to run in that relay in London, since it comes after the 800. All he needs is for his Kenyan teammates to qualify for the final. Rudisha enjoys speculating about Usain Bolt perhaps anchoring the Jamaican team in that race against him. As a 19-year-old in 2008, Rudisha appeared poised to make the Olympic team, but injuries kept him from qualifying for Beijing. He plans to compete at Kenya's Olympic trials this year even though he would seem guaranteed a wild-card entry, knowing the marathon world-record holder was left off the team. Rudisha isn't taking any chances when the goal is Olympic gold. "I need to be ready," he said, "for any situation that will come."


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment