David 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 Olympic Games in Samba land nation.
Questions linger on whether ‘King’ Rudisha can weather the expected challenge on his reign at the Olympic Games that start in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday.
His fierce contender is Ferguson Rotich, who has beaten Rudisha in two Diamond League races Shanghai and Stockholm. 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.
At the National Rio trials in Eldoret, Rudisha came a distant third behind Rotich and the eventual winner the 2014 world junior champion Alfred Kipketer won. “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.
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 at Rio.
“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.
The Kenya 800m team need 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.
Also on the lookout will be Botswana’s Olympic silver medalist Nijel Amos, who has beaten Rudisha and Ferguson previously.