David Lekuta Rudisha

Athlete Profile

  • COUNTRY
    Kenya Kenya
  • DATE OF BIRTH
    17 DEC 1988
David Rudisha wins the 800m at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (Getty Images)

Personal Best - Outdoor

Performance Wind Place Date
400 Metres 45.50 Sydney 27 FEB 2010
600 Metres 1:13.10 Birmingham (Alexander), GBR 05 JUN 2016
800 Metres 1:40.91 London (Olympic Stadium) 09 AUG 2012

Progression - Outdoor

400 Metres

Performance Place Date
2012 45.82 Sydney (SOPAC) 18 FEB
2010 45.50 Sydney 27 FEB
2005 48.20 Arusha 11 MAY

600 Metres

Performance Place Date
2016 1:13.10 Birmingham (Alexander), GBR 05 JUN
2014 1:13.71 Birmingham (Alexander), GBR 24 AUG

800 Metres

Performance Place Date
2016 1:42.15 Rio de Janeiro (Estádio Olímpico) 15 AUG
2015 1:43.58 New York City (Icahn), NY 13 JUN
2014 1:42.98 Monaco (Stade Louis II) 18 JUL
2013 1:43.87 Doha (Hamad Bin Suhaim) 10 MAY
2012 1:40.91 London (Olympic Stadium) 09 AUG
2011 1:41.33 Rieti (Guidobaldi) 10 SEP
2010 1:41.01 Rieti (Guidobaldi) 29 AUG
2009 1:42.01 Rieti 06 SEP
2008 1:43.72 Oslo (Bislett) 06 JUN
2007 1:44.15 Bruxelles (Boudewijnstadion) 14 SEP
2006 1:46.3 Nairobi 01 JUL
2005 1:51.2 Nairobi 15 JUN

Honours - 800 Metres

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
The XXXI Olympic Games 1 1:42.15 Rio de Janeiro (Estádio Olímpico) 15 AUG 2016
15th IAAF World Championships 1 1:45.84 Beijing (National Stadium) 25 AUG 2015
The XXX Olympic Games 1 1:40.91 London (Olympic Stadium) 09 AUG 2012
13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 1 1:43.91 Daegu (DS) 30 AUG 2011
1st IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup 2010 1 1:43.37 Split (Poljud Stadion) 05 SEP 2010
IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final 1 1:44.85 Thessaloníki 12 SEP 2009
12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 3sf3 1:45.40 Berlin (Olympiastadion) 21 AUG 2009
11th IAAF World Junior Championships 1 1:47.40 Beijing (Chaoyang Sport Center) 18 AUG 2006


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Updated 11 August 2016


David Lekuta RUDISHA, Kenya (800m)


Born: 17 December 1988, Kilgoris, Trans Mara District, Rift Valley Province

Coach: Brother Colm O’Connell

Manager: James Templeton

Camp: Iten

Height: 190 cm (6’3’’)

Sixth born in a family of seven


In one electrifying week in 2010, Rudisha ascended to the throne of 800 metres after twice breaking the World record to crown a memorable season, in which he proved his credentials as the new star of middle distance running.

His graceful and fluid running style, complete with long strides earned him the iconic nickname ‘Pride of Africa’ (also the motto of national air carrier, Kenya Airways) during the 2006 World Junior Championships in Beijing. Fours year later, Rudisha lived up to his moniker by becoming the first African to hold the World record over the distance after shattering a 13-year-old record held by Dane Wilson Kipketer.

On 22 August, 2010, Rudisha raced to a new World mark of 1:41.09 breaking Kipketer’s record by 0.02 seconds. Then in Rieti a week later, the lanky 21 year old bettered that mark with a new personal best time of 1:41.01 to complete a remarkable season in which he was unbeaten in 14 races.

After winning his first world title the following season in Daegu, South Korea, Rudisha reserved his best for London 2012 where he became the first human to dip under the 1:41 barrier in 800m when he blasted to 1:40.91 in the Olympics final in one of the finest individual performances ever witnessed in athletics.

However, since suffering a knee injury that forced him out of a world title defence in Moscow and erased a promising 2013 season, 11 defeats at his chosen distance including six to Botswana star Nijel Amos and back to back defeats at the Kenyan Trials, his cloak of invincibility has been removed as he battles to keep his place at the apex of his discipline.

Son of 1968 Olympic 4x400m relay silver, medallist Daniel Rudisha, the younger Rudisha got the athletics buzz from his famous parent who showed him his Olympic medal when he was younger to spur him to great things. “I realised I could run after finding out that my dad used to run and it gave me the morale that if he did it then maybe I could also run,” the younger Rudisha says. “He made me so proud because I knew he could do it,” said the elder Rudisha, who was overcome with emotion as his son brought home the junior gold.

David started running seriously in 2004, while in the last year of his primary school education, making it to the district and provisional levels, but never to the nationals. Then, he was competing in decathlon.

In 2005, he linked up with veteran Irish coach, Brother Colm O’Connell, of St Patrick’s School in Iten, who enrolled him at the nearby St Francis Kamuron School for his secondary education so he could train on the grounds of St Patrick’s. That year, he represented Kenya at the East Africa Youth Championships over 400m in Arusha, Tanzania, where he clinched silver in 48.2. Having observed him in training, O’Connell advised him to switch to 800m, or at least double at both events, and a new star was born.

In 2006, Rudisha finished sixth at the senior African Championship trials at Kasarani, setting his then personal best of 1:46.3. Weeks later, he sealed his place at the national junior team for the World Junior Championships in Beijing, running 1:47.20 at the event’s trials in Nairobi.

In the Chinese capital, Rudisha blasted to glory in style. Running in his first ever two-lap race away from home, he was quietly confident as he waited for his opportunity.

“The competition would be stiff because the Bahrain athlete Mansoor was claiming that he had run 1:44 and that we had no chance, so I kept quiet and decided to let my feet do the talking on the track,” he said after the race. In the final, he stayed cool behind the pack until the last 100m, when he produced a devastating kick to clinch gold in 1:47.40. “I was so happy and elated,” he continued. “It wasn’t easy but I had morale and wasn’t afraid of the competition. We had stiff competition but we gave ourselves the chance and drive to do well.”

At the 2007 Africa Junior Championships, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Rudisha stormed to 800m gold in 1:46.41. His first Golden League victory soon followed at the Weltklasse Meet in Zürich where he clocked 1:45.51. A week later, Rudisha roared past the field to register another victory at the Van Damme Memorial GP in Brussels (PB1:44.15).

In 2008, Rudisha qualified for the African Athletics Championships, in Addis Ababa, after clocking 1:47.2 in the third AK meet at Gusii Stadium.

His coach certainly believed he has the ability to go to the very top. “It’s too early to say whether he will be the next Wilson Kipketer but he certainly had the ability. All he needs is time to slowly develop and not rush.”

At the African Championships in Addis in early May, Rudisha lived up to expectations by motoring away to win the continental crown in 1:44.20.

Throughout the season, another 18 year old in the shape of World Indoor champion Abubaker Kaki was causing ripples on his own. The rising stars finally met on the track at the Golden League meet in Oslo where, despite his best efforts, Rudisha had to settle for second, setting a new personal best of 1:43.72. Six days later they faced up to each other again in Ostrava and again Rudisha came out second best (1:44.47) behind Kaki’s 1:43.80.

Shortly afterwards, disaster struck for Rudisha as he suffered shin and calf injuries while at the pre-Olympics training camp. The injuries meant he would not be fit for the 4 and 5 July Trials and despite sustained calls to include him in the Beijing squad automatically, Athletics Kenya (AK) refused, insisting that all Kenyan tickets for the Games would be earned at the selection event.

Hurt, Rudisha watched the Trials from the stands, the pain too much to bear as Wilfred Bungei, Boaz Lalang and World champion Alfred Kirwa Yego made the team.

“Although disappointed, I was very excited when Bungei won gold. He deserved it after all the effort he has made in his career. “My moment will come one day since I’m still young,” Rudisha said of his Olympics heartbreak.

He returned in 2009 at the 8 May Doha Super Grand Prix, where he finished fourth (1:44.78). Then in June, Rudisha was up against Kaki in Hengelo, where he timed 1:43.53 despite finishing fourth.

He then won the National Championships in June at a canter – which Coach O’Connell says helped get his confidence back. “After missing the Olympics, he was down for a long time mentally and it took a long while to raise him and get him to start running again. Even after the injury healed, it was still in his head. But when he ran the nationals and won three rounds, that was the turning point. He felt that he could again run freely and was back in shape.”

Having made the team for Berlin World Championships in August, Rudisha crushed out in a brutal semi-final where he got boxed in heat three, finishing third (1:45.40) and thus missing out on a place in the final.

Crucially, it was that defeat that made him change his tactics. From then he decided to run from the front and control the pace from there and avoid a repeat of Berlin.

On 6 September in Rieti, he recorded his standout performance of the year. Running in perfect conditions, Rudisha floated round the track beautifully, eating up ground with consummate ease as he posted a new African record of 1:42:01, breaking the previous record that had stood for 25 years.

Rudisha kicked off 2010 in style running a new personal best in 400 metres (45.50) in Sydney on 27 February.

4 June was a hugely important day for Rudisha as he lined against his Sudanese rival Kaki in Oslo. Having lost to him in their two previous meetings, Rudisha was determined to get his revenge and he duly did, with impressive front running, to triumph in 1:42.04.

At the African Athletics Championships in Nairobi, the question was not whether he would win, but how fast he would run. The powerful athlete did not disappoint, with a scintillating run that saw him stop the clock at an astonishing 1:42.84.

"I wanted to run a fast time to impress the home fans, maybe a 1:43, but even I could not believe it. Kenyans were expecting me to win and my aim was not to disappoint," the 21-year-old said afterwards.

He took a short break to recharge his batteries before taking to the blue track at the iconic Olympic stadium in Berlin on 22 August.

With Sammy Tangui as his pace maker, Rudisha went through the first 400 metres in 48.65 before taking over on the back straight. The lanky Kenyan pushed on from, there crossing the 600m mark in 1:14 and then gracefully powered home to break the long-standing record.

"Last year I had a bad time in Berlin. The weather was not very good and I did not make the final. So I did not want to talk too much about the World record before today's race,” a beaming Rudisha said afterwards. "But I knew it is my day,” he continued. “I trained very hard, the weather was good. I told the pacemaker to run the first lap under 49 seconds - he did a great job. The last 200m I had to push very hard - but I saw the clock 1:41.09 at the end. Fantastic, I am very happy to be the fastest 800 metres runner in the world."

Rudisha was not finished yet, and on 29 August, he stepped onto the Rieti track to have yet another go at the World record. His training partner, Tangui, paced him at a super-fast 48.20 in the first 400 metres, followed by Jackson Kivuva; with Rudisha taking the lead with 300 metres to go. Rudisha went through 600 metres in the lead in 1:14.56 and continued to push the pace with his smooth stride, stopping the clock at an astonishing 1:41.01.
“I just knew I was in good shape. The conditions were perfect. I expected to break two records in seven days,” said Rudisha adding, “I have always received a very warm welcome in Rieti. I love this track and the Rieti crowd, who have always given their support. This record is for them.”
His main goal in 2011 was to make the team for the World Championships and he easily made the team before running his seasonal best in Monaco in July (1:42.61).

His battles with Kaki have produced great races and when the duo lined up in London in early August, expectation was high of another great race. Rudisha duly delivered a masterful piece of front running, comfortably keeping Kaki at bay to win in 1:42.91 - an all-comers record in Britain.

At the World Championships in South Korea, Rudisha had one goal. Win a world title.

After going the heats and semis where he seemed not to move out of second gear, on August 30, Rudisha officially sat on top of the men 800m running after a seemingly effortless 1:43.91 triumph at the Daegu Sports Stadium to claim gold.

He survived being spiked on his left heel as the competitors scrambled to get their positions early on to assume the lead before unleashing a flawless display of front running, going through the opening lap in 51.33 before going on to win the title.

“It was tough, my shoe almost came off and I believe that would have been the end of my chances but thank God, it held.”

“I’m so happy for the victory since I was under a lot of pressure, I have never run a race under the kind of pressure I was in today but in the end, I finally made it. Being the world record holder, everybody was expecting me to win. I was very tense at the start,” he explained.

Two further victories on his return to the meetings circuit, the first in Rieti achieved in 1:41.33 (10 September) in a spirited chase for his World record that just fell short and 1:43.96 in the Diamond League Final in Brussels (16 September) earned his second Diamond Trophy in as many years along with its $40,000 jackpot.

However, Rudisha’s winning streak of 26 races over 800m was snapped by Ethiopian teenager, Mohammed Amman at the Notturna meeting in Milan on 18 September in wet conditions with the World champ running 1:43.57 against 1:43.50 posted by the winner.

In 2012 Rudisha ran in only five competitive races abroad with focus firmly on the Olympics.

Having gauged his speed at the 18 February Sydney Classic over 400m (45.82/2nd), Rudisha returned to familiar territory, winning the Melbourne Classic (1:44.33) on 3 March to lay the platform for the start of his proper season.

He delivered on his pre-race pledge to obliterate the American all-comers record on his United States debut at the 9 June New York Diamond League meet, when he stopped the timer at a staggering 1:41.74.

At the Kenyan OlympicTrials preliminary round on 21 July, Rudisha, paid mockery to the foul weather to give 15,000 supporters more reason to believe in their Moran when he adjusted his own 1:42.84 high elevation record down to a scarcely believable 1:42.12 during the final.

“I’m very happy since Kenyans love sport and they love athletics and they give us support. Even today, they cheered as the start list was being announced and that is why I always want to deliver something for them. If I wanted to run a slow race and win nice and comfortable, I would have done that but for those who are not able to come and watch us run in Europe, I try to do my best to show them how we perform there live. It’s such an honour.”

A 1:41.54 world lead in Paris on June 6 saw Rudisha make further history as the first 800m male athlete to record six career sub 1:42s, well ahead of Kipketer who had four and Coe and Joaquim Cruz who had one.

“I’m really optimistic. This is the only major title I’m missing on my table. I’m doing all my best and the way I started training this year I did a lot of work with my coach. I hope when I get there, I shall win the Olympics and maybe even break the world record again.

What followed was the finest moment of his career to date and a race that entered the annals of history as the best ever in men’s 800m and was later acclaimed as the best individual performance on the track in London 2012 earning a standing ovation from watching luminaries led by Lord Sebastian Coe.

Not only did he win the Olympic gold medal, but he smashed his own World record to leave the clock reading a scarcely believable 1:40.91 in a gun to tape performance where seven of the eight finalists ran to their personal bests.

A testament of the majestic performance was the fact Britain’s Andrew Osagie, who was last, managed a 1:43.77 lifetime best that would have won the Olympics title at the Beijing 2008, Athens 2004 and Sydney 2000 Games.

“It takes confidence and conviction, and Rudisha was good enough to do it. He led the field through the bell in 49.28s, and then began to open the gap with 300m to go. That’s not surprising, because everyone in the race was running above themselves just to reach the 500m mark at that pace. At 600m, which was passed in 1:14:30 (25.02s for the 200m split). Rudisha was clear, and on course for the record. He slowed in the final 200m, covering it in 26.61s, but it was enough to break 1:41, and claim Kenya’s second gold,” the Science of Sport summed up the landmark race.

Everything was shaping up for a rewarding 2013 and a successful world title defence in Russian when the Olympics champion easily won his opening two Diamond League races in Doha and New York although had he had foresight of the nightmare to follow his second outing, he would have opted out of the race.

He was jogging around the famous Central Park when he tripped and hurt his knee and initially, he thought it was nothing much but after running, it begun swelling and it was later diagnosed he needed corrective surgery.

“Soon after the injury occurred, I went to Germany for different check-ups and a first round of therapy. After coming back to Kenya, I had some rest, almost three months. We wanted to see if the problem would disappear on its own. But it didn’t. That’s when I went back to Tübingen.

“In October they did a key-hole surgery to check inside the knee. Fortunately, there was no serious damage found, even both meniscuses were still intact. They just found some small floating fragment, which they removed. Nevertheless, back in Kenya, I still felt the pain,” he narrated his injury in an interview with the IAAF.

His return in 2014 in Doha was the start of the series of defeats to Amos.

After the much publicised comeback in Eugene ended in a seventh place finish, Rudisha went on to lose to Amos for his first career silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and almost a month later, the Botswana star won the Diamond League final in Zurich as his Kenyan rival trooped third.

Despite being not anywhere near his top form, Rudisha’s 1:42.98 season’s best, run for fifth place at the Herculis meet in Monaco, also ranked fifth fastest of the year. The field was led home by Amos as he stretched his head-to-head count.

Rudisha launched 2015 keen to prove he was back and duly racked three successive victories at the Sydney and Melbourne Classic races in March before he opened his Diamond League campaign in New York with a brisk 1:43.58 win.

Then he admitted on his return home he was struggling to raise himself back to the level he was in the face of the crushing competition.

“It’s very tough. I don’t know how I can say it. In my career, I’ve been having a lot of ups and downs but I’m happy. I thank my coach and my family who have been supporting me and we have always been finding a way of fighting back and coming back which is a good thing. I always come stronger,” Rudisha told AP.

On 1 August, Rudisha looked well on course to complete a commanding victory at the Kenyan Trial for Beijing Worlds when Bahamas World Relays silver medallist Ferguson Rotich reeled him in for a surprise defeat.

Behind him, the astonished Rudisha barely held off the charging World Junior champion, Alfred Kipketer in 1:43.89 against 1:44.07 as both made Beijing.

At the World Championships, Rudisha lined up against Amos in the semis. When the gun went, Rudisha took the lead, but ran a conservative 54 second first lap before kicking away for victory. Unable to react to Rudisha’s change of tactics, Amos missed out on a place in the final.

In the final, Rudisha deployed similar tactics to win his second World title in 1:45.84.

Now a veteran at 27, Rudisha has had a stop and start 2016 so far. He finished fifth in his first Diamond League meet in May after confusion at the start, where many athletes, including the World record holder, hesitated after the starting gun went off. He then set a new African record in the rarely contested 600 metres race in Birmingham in June, clocking 1:13.10. However, another defeat followed in Stockholm - in wet conditions, which Rudisha notoriously dislikes.

At the Kenyan Olympic Trials, Rudisha produced a 1:43.4 run to win his heat and make the final. However, the final did not go quite according to plan, as he had to fight back on the home straight to snatch third position behind Kipketer and Rotich.

He finished his Rio preparations with 1:43.35 in Hungary on 18 July and he goes to Rio with the top two fastest times this year, electronic and hand-timed.


Personal life

Rudisha married his childhood sweetheart, Lizzy Naanyu, in a private ceremony at the back end of 2010 and they have two children. Wife Lizzy completed her studies at Moi University in Eldoret mid-2011 and the couple lives in the outskirts of Eldoret when the husband is not training in Iten or globetrotting.

“My family means everything to me and the birth of our daughter has enabled me to have more focus on my career and every time I compete, I dedicate my success to them,” Rudisha remarked.

O’Connell observes that Rudisha reminds him of two-time World champion Billy Konchellah. And the similarities are uncanny. First and foremost they come from the same area, Kilgoris -their homes are about 10km apart. Like Konchellah, he is Maasai, a tribe renowned for bravely.

Both are over six feet tall with long smooth strides and started as 400m sprinters before switching to the two-lap race.

“He is very level headed and always willing to learn,” O’Connell says. “He is always seeking to improve and work.”

Rudisha says he draws encouragement from Konchellah, Japheth Kimutai and Yiampoy. “I have met Yiampoy several times and he encourages me and advises me,” Rudisha said. “I have also watched Konchellah’s races and I think he was a great athlete.”


Personal Bests

400m: 45.50 (2010)
800m: 1:40.91 WR (2012)


Yearly Progression

800m: 2005-1:51.2; 2006: 1:46.3; 2007: 1:44.15; 2008 – 1:43.72; 2009 – 1:42.01 AR; 2010-1:41.01 WR; 2011-1:41.33; 2012-1:40.91 WR; 2013- 1:43.87; 2014-1:42.98; 2015- 1:43.58; 2016-1:43.35


Career Highlights

2005 2nd East-African Youth Championships (400m)
2006 1st World Junior Championships (800m)
2006 4th World Junior Championships (4x400m)
2007 1st African Junior Championships (800m)
2008 1st African Athletics Championships (800m)
2009 SF World Championships (800m)
2009 1st World Athletics Final (800m)
2010 1st African Athletics Championships (800m)
2010 1st Diamond League Race Final Standings (800m)
2011 1st World Championships (800m)
2011 1st Diamond League Race Final Standings (800m)
2012 1st Olympics Games (800m)
2014 2nd Commonwealth Games (800m)
2015 1st World Athletics Championships (800m)

 

Prepared by James Wokabi and Mutwiri Mutuota for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008-2016