28 JUL 2012 Preview

Men's 800 Metres - PREVIEW

Another sensational run by David Rudisha - 1:41.54 in Paris (Jean-Pierre Durand)Another sensational run by David Rudisha - 1:41.54 in Paris (Jean-Pierre Durand) © Copyright
One will have to dig pretty deep to find a bigger favourite on any programme at these Games than David Rudisha.

Indeed, such is the stature and current form of the 23-year-old World champion that some observers are even suggesting that he could break his own World record at London’s Olympic Stadium without the assistance of pacesetters. The Kenyan of course isn’t making any promises that an assault on his 1:41.01 is imminent but according to some media reports, he hasn’t entirely discounted the possibility either.

Rudisha arrives with the four fastest performances of the season, a pair of those - 1:41.74 in New York and 1:41.54 in Paris – in sub-1:42 territory. Underscoring his phenomenal Olympic year form was a 1:42.14 victory at the Kenyan trials in the high altitude of Nairobi. Norway's Vebjorn Rodal, who won the title in Atlanta in 1:42.58, will likely see his Olympic record fall after 16 years.

But can he lead a Kenyan sweep? Not likely.

Antony Chemut and Timothy Kitum illustrated that they are long on talent when they notched sub-1:44 PBs at altitude to secure their team spots, but at 19 and 17 respectively, are very short on experience. History too isn’t on their side - the last medal sweep in the event came courtesy of the U.S. in Stockholm 100 years ago.

With his dominance over the past three season, it’s easy to forget that Rudisha hasn’t been absolutely invincible. Ethiopian Mohamed Aman beat him late last season in Milan and has since gone on to take the World indoor title at the age of just 18. If he can pull off an upset here, he’ll become the first teenaged man to win an Olympic 800m title. His 1:43.51 season’s best came in Daegu back in May.

Yet oddly enough Aman isn't even the fastest teenager in the world this year. That honour goes to Nijel Amos of Botswana who made his presence felt with a sensational 1:43.11 national record in Mannheim in early June. More recently the 18-year-old clocked 1:43.79 to win the World junior title.

Experience is key here, however, not only in the ultimate battle for medals, but in the skirmishes to advance from the unforgiving rounds. That works in the favour of veterans Nick Symmonds of the US and 2004 Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy of Russia. Poles Adam Kszczot and Marcin Lewandowski can’t be discounted as medal hopes while sub-1:45 trio Michael Rimmer, Andrew Osagie and Gareth Warburton will be carrying home team hopes.

Not showing the best form is a familiar name, twice World indoor champion and 2011 World silver medallist Abubaker Kaki, who has been a shadow of his former self in his two most recent races, a distant fourth in London and even further back in ninth in Monaco.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF