After having watched David Rudisha set the WR and win the gold medal in 2012 in London, I believed that I had seen the future of middle distance running. After that, a 1:40 for 800 meters was not too far off!
David Rudisha showed he was human. He was injured and found that cycle of injuries and fitness challenges that all of us find sometime in our careers. The only problem is, most of us are not the world record holders for 800 meters.
The battle back from injuries, for athletes of all levels, is very difficult.
For a world record holder, it has to be madness.
When speaking to David Rudisha, it is not apparent, at first, if it was difficult. But, it was. In 2013, Rudisha spent most of the year injured. In 2014, he was beat by runners he had destroyed before, and his second in the Commonwealth Games was a high watermark for Rudisha. He noted that he was happy to compete there, but he obviously did not like getting beat by Nijel Amos.
"I have learned that what I was missing from my training was the speed work. When I would do 300 meter repeats in 35 seconds, my knee would hurt. In 2015, I have been able to do 100 meter repeats, 150 repeats, 200 meters and 300 meters in 33 seconds, and there was no pain." A smile erupted on David Rudisha's face when he told this writer about that revelation.
The speed work gave him confidence. The lack of pain, a friend for the past 18 months, must have also allowed him to feel good.
In the rounds, Nijel Amos did not make them out. Mo Ama was disqualified for a rule violation. Part of the job for an elite athlete is to make it through the rounds.
As the Steve Forbert song from the 1970s noted (Cellophane City), " you can not win, if you do not play."
Rudisha had two formidable opponents: Adam Kszczot, the European champion, who is a masterful tactician. And most importantly, the new find of the year, Amel Tuka, from Bosnia Herzogovina, who caught all the fast guys in Monaco.
How would the front runner face these guys?
And that was what was truly special about David's race on Wednesday.
He did the absolute opposite of what everyone expected: He controlled the pace, took it slow, wait, pedestrian, an agonizing 54 second first lap. It kept him in control, and in the game.
When David Rudisha started to use that renewed 33 second 300 meter speed and that 22 second 200 meter speed, he was flying. But so, was Amel Tuka, who took off, after having been in a bit of a box, with 300 meters to go.
Rudisha began to fly, running his last full lap in 51.7, but that last 200 meters was where the damage was truly done: he covered that in just a shade ove 24 seconds.
" I felt confident and fast, " is how a smiling David Rudisha would speak about it on the afternoon after his glorious run.
"I was here to win, and this was the focus of my year," the soft spoken Rudisha told this writer.
In speaking to Wilson Kipketer, the former World Record holder and 1995 World Champion last April 2014, Wilson had noted a fear that David Rudisha might try and come back too quickly. " Coming back to great shape takes much time, " is how Wilson spoke, " I was not patient, and I had some tough times trying to return to my world record fitness."
David Rudisha is the zen master of the 800 meters. A man of quiet confidence, who has amazing endurance, amazing speed, and super human drive, David Rudisha knows that, still, he is not in WR shape, but he hopes to reach again before Rio.
As one knows, all eyes are on Rio for the 2016 Olympics.
David Rudisha has his focus.
A focus he never gave up on.