NAIROBI - In everyone’s book, world record holder David Lekuta Rudisha of Kenya is the men’s 800m most favourite in the London Games.
As he prepares to make his American racing debut on Saturday’s Adidas Grand Prix Diamond League meeting in New York, the 23-year-old world and Continental Cup champion and two-time African titleholder is all aware of the immense expectations on his shoulders.
“Everyone is waiting for a good performance from me and I’m working so hard to make sure I deliver. The pressure will motivate me to achieve my goal of bringing another Olympics medal to the Rudisha home and this time, my hope is it will be gold,” he said in his Iten training base before his departure to New York.
At the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, his father Daniel Rudisha went out on the track first as Kenya won the 4X400m relay silver, the first medal at the event for an African nation.
It is the hunger to supersede his elder’s achievement 44 years later that is spurring the world record holder to achieve London glory.
“I have taken over from him and moved a step up to 800m. My father brought Kenya a silver medal and I believe this is the right year for me to go to London and compete well,” he said.
“I grew up admiring his medal and dreamed that one day, I would have my own and since I was 15, I realized what it takes to be a champion. He helped me in training and encouraged me when he saw I had the talent to run and when I met my coach Brother Colm (O’Connell), the path to my career was opened,” the Daegu gold winner said.
Rudisha has fully embraced modern communication gadgetry, listening to his favorite tunes from his iPhone as he does his warm-up before training or competition, reading and watching material related to his race on his iPad , Samsung Galaxy Tab or his MacBook laptop as well as regularly updating his social network Facebook and Twitter accounts.
But the world record holder is aiming at following the well established path of the men 800m running greats that bestrode the track before him to realize his London dream.
Already, he has been ushered into the hallowed class of Cuba’s Alberto ‘Danger’ Juantorena, Lord Sebastian Coe and Wilson Kipketer, his predecessors as world record holder.
“I spend hours watching how they ran and to be in the same company as my idols is a great honor for me. I follow what they did to be great runners everyday and that is hard work in training, focus and determination,” he concedes.
Rudisha is however, not satisfied with just being at the same high table with the two-lap legends.
“Juantorena won the 800m gold medal at the Olympics and that is what I want to achieve as well. Although Lord Coe won an Olympic gold, it was in 1500m and Kipketer won silver when he had his chance,” he said.
“They are all my friends and when I have the chance, I listen to what they have to say to me since they are inspirational. Besides success on the track, they have moved on to be great ambassadors and for Lord Coe, he is the CEO of London Olympics so winning there would be special,” Rudisha asserts.
Since announcing his arrival to the global stage when he won the world junior 800m title in 2006, the man who broke the world record twice inside a week in 2010, first running 2:41.11 and then 2:41.01 in Berlin and Rieti, is all too aware of the threat from the competition.
“The 800m running is tough since every time. There are young guys coming through and those who have been at the top for many years are also around so it means you have to maintain top shape at all times to remain competitive,” he said.
New York will be Rudisha’s second appearance at this season’s Samsung Diamond League elite international circuit after he blasted to the world leading 1:43.10 in the opener in Doha last month.