2011 Worlds 800m Final: David Rudisha Gets The World Title He Deserves

Nick Symmonds Comes Up Short In Fifth

By LetsRun.com
August 30, 2011
Daegu, South Korea

(photo via TrackTownPhoto.com)

David Rudisha is the world's best 800m runner. On Tuesday night, he got the only thing missing on his resume the last two years, a Worlds title. Rudisha led wire-to-wire to win his first global crown and to extend his unbeaten streak to 24 straight races. The last time Rudisha lost was 2 years ago at the 2009 World Championships.

Rudisha immediately went to the front taking the field through a quick 23.81. Abubaker Kaki, the man who has come closest to beating Rudisha the last two years, was in 2nd. American Nick Symmonds was in last.

Rudisha slowed the pace down the pace considerably next 200m, as 400m was reached in 51.23, as 2004 Olympic gold medallist Russian Yuriy Borzakovskiy, and Symmonds moved up to 4th and 3rd, respectively, recognizing the slower pace.

On the backstretch, Rudisha still was leading, as Borzakovskiy trailed him on the outside with Kaki on the inside, as 600m was reached in 1:17.99. Heading to the final turn, Nick Symmonds got caught up in the field that was rearranging itself behind Rudisha as people tried to position themselves for the final 100m.  There was some contact with Symmonds. As they hit the final 100m, Rudisha was still in front and he did what many expected - he ran away from the field over the last 100m.

The battle was on for the lesser medals. Borzakovskiy was in second for most of the homestretch as he had positioned himself well behind Rudisha, but Kaki mounted a late charge to nip Borzakovskiy at the line.

Nick Symmonds had his worst race of the summer, as after getting caught up in traffic on the final turn, he did not have the strong finish he has exhibited all summer.

Nick Symmonds Talks About His Race
And The American Medal Drought

Symmonds Reflects On Missing An Opportunity To Medal And Getting Boxed On The Turn

After the finish, Symmonds put his hands on his head. He knew 800m finals do not come around very often and his chance for a medal was gone. Afterwards, Symmonds was talkative and gave an interesting interview. Symmonds believed he came up short because of how the race played out on the final turn. He said, "With 200 meters to go, I'm in fantastic position. If I ever wanted to win a medal this is right where I would want to be. No one would be crazy enough to pass on the right side on the last turn, but that is what Lewandowski had to do to get into the hunt. It cost me my lane and cost me my whole race. I thought when he was coming up on my shoulder, 'I've got to hold him off. I've got to hold him off'. To do so would have meant kicking from 150-160 meters out which also would have cost me the race. So it was kind of you're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't ... I just prayed something would open up and nothing did so I had to stop and move out and you'll never make a podium doing that the last 100m.'

Symmonds said getting bumped with about 200m to go did not affect him. "You get bumped all the time in the 800m."

Symmonds kept referring to getting boxed in (another observer who admitted to watching the race over 10 times said a hole opened up for Symmonds on the inside if he just stayed there (race video embedded below)). Nick said, "I had the legs. I thought 'Gosh My legs so good but I have no where to go.' That's the most frustrating part, knowing you had it and you just didn't create the space for yourself."

Symmonds, whose opening 200 of 24.4 was admittedly his fastest ever, did end up with his highest outdoor Worlds finish (he was sixth in '09). That was little consolation as he said, "You spend all year dreaming of a medal. You don't dream of fifth place. (The USA) hasn't had a medal since '97 and with a nation with the talent we have it just makes me sick we're not getting medals."

800m Final Race Video

All Of The Competitors Full Of Praise For Rudisha

Symmonds, like all of the competitors, was full of praise for Rudisha. Symmonds did admit to trying to think of ways to beat Rudisha, saying, "David Rudisha is a fantastic runner. He has so many tools I don't have but he's human and anyone can win on any given day ... The last hour as I was lining up here I spent an hour thinking 'How do I beat Rudisha?'"

But Borzakovskiy and Kaki, when asked about how do they beat Rudisha, did not have any concrete ways to go about it besides also expressing that Rudisha is human and anything can happen in a competition. Borzakovskiy said, "Of course I wanted to win but then I realized David is stronger than me and in better shape."

Rudisha has been on an incredible run the last two years. As much as the other competitors probably don't want to hear it, this World Championships may have been the time to beat Rudisha. Rudisha suffered an ankle injury this year and missed significant amounts of training. Rudisha said because of the injury he "stayed two months away from training." He said fortunately he had a big foundation before the injury and that made it easier to resume training at full strength after the injury.

Rudisha's race was a thing of beauty. Rudisha discussed afterwards how the one thing he wanted was the lead, as he tried running from behind at the 2009 World Championships and really struggled. So he took it out fast to get the lead. He went through in a very fast 23.8. Maintaining that pace would have been the easiest way for Rudisha to lose the race. So what did he do? He slowed the pace down the next 200m. Then he controlled the race from the front the last 400m. Perfect execution from Rudisha.

Up next for Rudisha is the Diamond League final and at some point this year a crack at his own world record (1:41.01). The bigger barrier is trying to dip under the sub-100-second mark (1:40:00). If Rudisha can get to that level, then the other competitors had better get used to running for second place. But they may already be used to it.


Alfred Kirwa Yego Entertains

Alfred Kirwa Yego, the 2007 World Champion, may have finished 7th, but he was all smiles afterwards. He went on a victory lap with his own Kenyan flag and Rudisha afterwards. Then when he talked to the press and LetsRun.com, he was still smiling (interview to the right) despite saying of the race, "23 for 200 is a little fast but I think it was good for him to get that position ... For me, it was not good at all." The interview is entertaining to say the least.

(Full press conference and excerpts from the medallists below)

1 6 664 David Lekuta Rudisha KEN 1:43.91
2 4 962 Abubaker Kaki SUD 1:44.41
3 5 905 Yuriy Borzakovskiy RUS 1:44.49
4 2 837 Marcin Lewandowski POL 1:44.80
5 3 1125 Nick Symmonds USA 1:45.12
6 7 834 Adam Kszczot POL 1:45.25
7 8 667 Alfred Kirwa Yego KEN 1:45.83
8 1 364 Mohammed Aman ETH 1:45.93

Splits: 23.81, 51.23, 1:17.99

Interviews: Nick Symmonds is Above Or Here

David Rudisha Reflects On His First World Title

Yuriy B On Bronze


Full Press Conference

Abubaker Kaki On Silver

More 800m On The Boards: *Mens 800 Final
*Nick Symmonds Post-Race Comments


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