Racing fans, be prepared – World record-holder David Rudisha is eager to lead a world-class 800m field on June 1 at the Prefontaine Classic, part of the IAAF Diamond League, where he will take on all seven of the other Olympic finalists from last year.
Rudisha, the 2012 Olympic gold medallist, is no stranger to racing the best in the world, having broken the 1:41 barrier in his London victory against them. But competing in Eugene will be his first chance to display his incredible talent at the historic Hayward Field.
The Kenyan superstar recognizes the significance of the event. “I’ve heard about the great crowd at Eugene. Bernard Lagat tells me it’s where they have a special interest in middle distances,” says the 24-year-old, whose appearance in Eugene will be just his second ever race in the US, following his victory in New York last year. “So I’m excited to go and run there for the first time. I hope to run well and give the crowd something to enjoy.”
When Rudisha runs, crowds enjoy. His talent in the 800m is at historical levels, as he now owns six of the eight fastest times in history, including his World record 1:40.91 set when winning the Olympic title in London.
Rudisha’s confirmation makes for a phenomenal Pre Classic field, as every 2012 Olympic finalist is confirmed. This also makes the men’s 800m the fifth of five events announced by the Pre Classic that will include every medallist from the London Olympics.
The silver and bronze medallists from London may still only be teenagers but they are already record-breakers in their own right. Silver medallist Nijel Amos of Botswana is one of only five men to run under 1:42, and the World junior champion is the fastest junior athlete in history. His 1:41.73 PB equals that of legendary Sebastian Coe, whose 1981 World record was set more than a decade before Amos was born.
Olympic bronze medallist Timothy Kitum of Kenya extends the youth movement, as his best of 1:42.53 is a world age-17 best.
Only one man has defeated Rudisha in the last three years, and he has done it twice. Amazingly, that person is still only 19 years old – Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia. Aman, the 2012 World Indoor champion, has spoiled undefeated seasons for Rudisha in 2011 and 2012. A finalist at both the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympics, his aim is on this summer’s World Championships in Moscow.
Two more world-class teenagers grace the Pre Classic field in Leonard Kosencha and Abraham Rotich, both of Kenya. Kosencha won the 2011 World Youth Championships over Aman, Kitum, and Amos. While still 19, Rotich is the only teenager in the field not eligible for junior records this year, as he will turn 20 before the end of the year.
Can any American compete with Rudisha and the speedy young threats? The Pre Classic includes the two best in Duane Solomon and Nick Symmonds. Just out of reach of the Olympic medals in London (fourth and fifth, respectively), each ran lifetime bests in that epic Olympic final. Both are using the Pre Classic to continue improvement, as they are the second and third fastest Americans ever.
Since 2007, no one in the world has a better record against Rudisha than Abubaker Kaki of Sudan, who defeated Aman in a thrilling race to win last year’s Pre Classic. A two-time World indoor champion, Kaki was the silver medallist behind Rudisha at the 2011 World Championships.
A year younger than Rudisha, Kaki was 5-1 against Rudisha through the 2009 season. It wasn’t until the end of the 2011 season that Rudisha pulled ahead and the Kenyan now leads 8-5. Kaki has had great success at the Pre Classic, having won the 1000m in 2010 as well as the 800m in 2011 and 2012. His 2011 victory in 1:43.68 is still the meeting and stadium record. Kaki was also the World junior record-holder from 2008 (1:42.69) until Amos’ run at London.
Three more sub-1:44 runners complete the field. Andrew Osagie of Great Britain is a London Olympic finalist who also won bronze at the 2012 World Indoor Championships. Adam Kszczcot of Poland is a two-time European indoor champion. Job Kinyor is a steadily rising Kenyan anxious for a return to Eugene, having started his best season at the Pre Classic last year.
Taken all together, this field is possibly as good as any seen in any invitational meet ever, anywhere.
Organisers for the IAAF
2013 IAAF Diamond League Calendar
Doha, QAT – 10 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
New York, USA – 25 May
Eugene, USA – 1 Jun
Rome, ITA – 6 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 13 Jun
Birmingham, GBR – 30 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 4 Jul
Paris, FRA – 6 Jul
Monaco, MON – 19 Jul
London, GBR – 26-27 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 22 Aug
Zürich, SUI – 29 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 6 Sep