Rudisha retains 800m title
Kenya's David Rudisha swept his rivals aside to become the first man since 1964 to successfully defend the Olympic 800m title.
Rudisha retained his title with a devastating final lap sprint. The world champion and world record holder hit top gear in the final 300 metres to become the first man since New Zealander Peter Snell in 1964 to take two consecutive 800m Olympic golds. The winner crossed the line in 1.42.15, ahead of Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi, while fast-finishing American Clayton Murphy grabbed bronze.
“I am so excited. It is the greatest moment of my career,” said Rudisha, who had been battling with injuries on the road to Rio. “It's been very difficult. I have stayed focused and positive. My coach has been great and given me hope.”
After setting a world record at the 2012 London Games, the injury-ravaged years that followed dented Rudisha’s confidence and caused him to miss the 2013 world championships. He struggled for much of the current season and came third in national Olympic trials. Yet the runner looked in total control of the Rio Games final as his long stride and fluid running style propelled him to victory.
The 27-year-old nicknamed ‘King David’ in Kenya crossed the line several metres ahead of Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi, the London Games gold medal winner over 1,500m, who has his sights set on another medal in the discipline in Rio. The 800m silver medal boosted his confidence ahead of the event.
“This race has a tradition in my country. I am so happy to make my country proud,” the Algerian said. “I dedicate this to the poor people.”
Bronze medallist Clayton Murphy set a personal best and felt privileged to compete against the legendary Kenyan Rudisha: “He is somebody I've looked up to since he broke the world record. It was an honour to race him. When I saw I could get bronze, I just kept pushing.”