David Lekuta Rudisha is a Kenyan middle distance runner. He is the current Olympic and world record holder in the 800 metres, as well as the current Olympic Champion at the distance. Rudisha was the first person to run under 1:41.00 for the event, and he holds the three fastest, six of the eight fastest, and half of the twenty fastest times ever run in this event. Rudisha has won a record 3 consecutive Track & Field Athlete of the Year awards, and also won the IAAF World Athlete of the Year award in 2010.
Born in Kilgoris, Narok County, Rudisha went to St. Patrick’s, Kimuron Secondary School in Iten, Keiyo District, which is known for nurturing several top runners including Wilson Kipketer, the previous 800 m world record holder, who had already held the record for several years before Rudisha joined the school. As a small shy Maasai boy, Rudisha was inspired to run by his father, Daniel Rudisha, who won a silver medal at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games as part of Kenya’s 4x400m relay team. His mother, Naomi, is a former 400m hurdler.
David’s Journey started in 2004, while in the last year of his primary school education, making it to the district and provisional levels, but never to the nationals. Then, he was competing in decathlon. In 2005, he linked up with veteran Irish coach, Brother Colm O’Connell, of St Patrick’s School in Iten, who enrolled him at the nearby St Francis Kamuron School for his secondary education so he could train on the grounds of St Patrick’s. That year, he represented Kenya at the East Africa Youth Championships over 400m in Arusha, Tanzania, where he clinched silver in 48.2. Having observed him in training, O’Connell advised him to switch to 800m, or at least double at both events, and a new star was born.
In 2006, he became the World junior champion over 800m in Beijing, and two years later in 2008, he struck gold again at the African Championships in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia. By 2010, the power and speed of Rudisha, was fully unleashed on the track world.
Rudisha kicked off 2010 in some style running a new personal best in 400 metres (45.50) in Sydney on 27 February. A 1:43.15 timing in 800 metres in Melbourne five days later indicated his early form. He next clocked 1:43.00 to win the opening Diamond League Meet in Doha on 14 May and followed it up with a 1:44.03 at the Golden Spike meet in Ostrava. On August 22, he broke Wilson Kipketer’s 800m world record – barely two days to the anniversary of that record that stood for almost 13 years – with a time of 1min, 41.09secs in Berlin. A week later, he lowered his own record at the Rieti Diamond League Meeting to 1:41.01. He also took gold for the second time at the Nairobi African Championships and became the youngest ever athlete to win the IAAF World Athlete of the Year award, as well as the Kenyan Sportsman of the Year award. In addition, he won gold at the Africa Continental Cup.
Rudisha capped that string of successes with gold at the 2011 Daegu World Championships. Rudisha completed the gun-to-tape victory as Sudan’s archrival and twice World Indoor champion, Abubaker Kaki (1:44.41) and Russian grand warrior of men 800m running Yuriy Borzakovskiy (1:44.49) joined him in the podium as silver and bronze winners.
The following year, Rudisha put on a stunning performance at the 2012 adidas Grand Prix in New York City and had spectators on their feet with a US all-comers 800m record of 1min 41.74secs. He then booked his place on the London-bound Kenyan Olympic team for the first time with a win at the national trials, running 1:42.12 minutes – the fastest ever recorded at altitude. But these were only dress rehearsals for the London show.
Running in London, Rudisha led from start to finish, winning gold in what was acclaimed “The Greatest 800m Race Ever.” He became the first runner to have broken the 1:41 barrier for 800m, the first person to win an Olympic 800m final with a world record since Cuba’s Alberto Juantorena in 1976, and the first reigning 800m world champion to win Olympic gold at that distance. His race splits were: 23.4secs for the first 200m, 25.88secs for the second, 25.02 for the third and 26.61 for the last.
Rudisha could not compete at the 2013 World Championships in Athletics because of an injury. He had a rough start in 2014 when he finished 7th at the Eugene meeting at the 2014 IAAF Diamond league, but then had a great comeback when he finished first at the 800m Glasgow and New york meetings.
Rudisha married his childhood sweetheart, Lizzy Naanyu,and they welcomed daughter Charlene on 31 January 2010.The couple lives in the outskirts of Eldoret when the husband is not training in Iten or globetrotting.
Rudisha says he draws encouragement from Konchellah, Japheth Kimutai and Yiampoy who are great kenyan athletes.
Sebastian Coe, organiser of the London Olympics who held the world record in 800 m for more than 16 years, during the 2010 Olympic Games declared that “It was the performance of the Games, not just of track and field but of the Games”. He added: “Bolt was good, Rudisha was magnificent. That is quite a big call but it was the most extraordinary piece of running I have probably ever seen.”