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Wednesday 1 October 2014

The sporting moments that made 2012: A world record and a middle-distance renaissance

Published 30/12/2012 | 05:00

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When David Rudisha won the Olympic 800m final and broke the world record, his race was on the undercard for the main event of the night, the 200m final.

Most of the 80,000 people packed into the Olympic Stadium were eagerly anticipating the next round of the Bolt/Blake battle; Rudisha wasn't even on their radar.

He was expected to win the gold medal but what he did on the track that night was more than just win a big race. Rudisha woke the crowd up to the beauty of middle-distance running and made them believe in the impossible. And it wasn't just the time he ran that made people gasp; for most, 1.40.91 is just a combination of numbers, quickly forgotten.

It was the way he ran that made the spectators stand and stare; his technique, his grace, the ease with which he moved, he was mesmerising.

Watching the tall, broad athlete gliding along the track transported the imaginative to Rudisha's native lands in Kenya amongst the Masai tribe. Images of African wildlife, scorching sunshine, and endless plains were easily conjured up.

Rudisha looked every inch a warrior with his silver chain dancing around his neck, the defiant look on his face and his determined stride.

Before the race he warned his competitors that he was going for it, the cool dry evening reminded him of home and that inspired him to do something special, to make history.

He owned the race from the start, establishing a lead after just 200 metres and extending it with every stride. Not once did Rudisha relax or slide into cruise control – the world record was his own, but it was still one he wanted to break.

It was the final 200m that was most phenomenal; his burst of energy not only lifted the crowd but lifted his competitors too. Every last one of them powered home. The end result for the eight runners was the first track world record of the Games, seven personal bests and two national records.

Before the race, the Kenyan was known in many circles as 'the greatest runner you've never heard of,' but when he crossed the line that fateful Saturday night in August that changed because David Rudisha stole the show.

Sunday Indo Sport

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