Has the 800 metres found itself a new star? Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, from South Africa, ought to think of himself as such, after a shrewdly judged race in the 800m final at these 10th IAAF World Indoor Championships.
Mulaudzi thus added World Indoor gold to the World bronze he won in Paris last year and the Commonwealth title he took in Manchester in 2002, as he produced a perfectly judged effort on the final circuit to pass the early pace setter Osmar dos Santos, who was relegated on the line to third by Mohammed Rachid Ramzi, from Bahrain.
Mulaudzi clocked 1min 45.71sec, as Ramzi set an Asian record of 1:46.15, with dos Santos taking bronze in 1:46.26.
Perhaps the biggest shock of this final was the fifth and sixth placings of the two Kenyans, William Yiampoy and Joseph Mutua.
Dos Santos, as he had done in Saturday’s semi-final, took the early pace, passing the lap marker in 24.17, 50.74 and then 1:18.21, a tactic that began to unwind for the Brazilian as Mulaudzi moved to his shoulder just after the bell.
Dos Santos gamely resisted the challenge until 100 metres from the finish, but his South African rival had more finishing strength and pulled away from the fading dos Santos in the home straight.
Mulaudzi thus emulates the World Indoor title of his compatriot, Johan Botha, the winner of the 800m in Maebashi in 1999, although the 2004 winning time was the slowest at these championships since 1995.