David Rudisha Q&A As He Prepares For His First US Appearance
The World Record Holder at 800m, Who Will Compete At the 2012 adidas Grand Prix on June 9, 2012, Sounds Excited About Coming To US And Trying To Become 1st 800 World Record Holder To Win Olympic Title in 36 Years
May 29, 2012
On Tuesday morning, the organizers of the 2012 adidas Grand Prix held a teleconference with 800 meter world record holder and 2011 world champion David Rudisha in anticipation of his first US appearance at their meet in New York on June 9th. Rudisha will square off with his #1 rival, Worlds silver medallist Abubaker Kaki, plus former world champ Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, and American Robby Andrews. LetsRun.com was on the call and wanted to provide you with some of the highlights.
In general, Rudisha came across as a confident person who sounded truly excited to be coming to the US for the first time. He also revealed himself to be a true student of the sport, one who is familiar with the history of the sport, and one who doesn't seem fazed by trying to be the first 800 world record holder to win the Olympic 800 title since 1976. Considering Rudisha runs the majority of his races in rabbitted time trials in Europe, we asked him if he feared the championship style racing that is found at the Olympics and Rudisha sounded very confident when he said he did not.
This year I know is a very tough year because it's an Olympic year. The important thing is the training which so far is going on well and my body is responding. Everything is fine but I know this year is going to be tough as every competitor is working hard to perform their best at the Olympics.
On coming to the US for the 1st time:
Wow. I'm very excited to come to the US for the first time and to compete in New York. I used to hear about the city and the people. I'm so excited. This is also an adidas meet and they are my sponsors.
On who he is worried about in New York in general:
I always say I don't think it's good to focus on person or two persons as your rival. The key is to train hard and be ready for the competition.
Guys like Abubaker Kaki has been a very good rival for years and youngsters that are coming up like (Mohammed) Aman and the world youth (Leonard) Kosencha are very good.
On Whether He Thinks He Can Break 1:40.00:
The second world record that I did which was very close to 1:40 (1:41.01). To run 1:40 is possible. I am planning to still do that but it's tough.
My plan for the world record will be after the Olympics.
On the different types of training he would be doing because it's an Olympic year.
The way I trained in 2010 was different training because I was focusing on the world record and the fast races. Coming into 2011, I (did) tactical training. This year, I'm trying to mix the 2010 training with 2011 to see if I can after the Olympics still have that good training for the world record.
Tactical training - you do it on the track - to practice sprinting so if the pace is slow you can still sprint at the end.
On how he will use his races to gauge his preparedness for London?
(Races) are good to gauge your training as well as to keep you sharp.
I started in Australia with 1:44.33 (in March) and in Doha (in May) I did 1:43.1 so if everything is going to according to plan, I'll keep improving - so maybe what I'll be focusing on is something like 1:42 in New York.
On whether he's already on the Kenyan Olympic Team:
There is no need to take any risk (and skip the Kenyan Trials). I mean this year they left off the world record holder in the marathon as they are basing it off of this year's times. Normally, they select the top two to cross the line - the first two - and then normally they select one more off of reputation or something else. But I can't just sit back and wait for a wild-card.
On Brother Colm (O'Connell) and His 1st Ever 800:
Brother Colm (O'Connell) is one of the best coaches in Kenya. After about one month of training with him, he thought I could do a good 800. And I did well in my first 800 meters - I did 1:50 on a dirt track. I was very impressed. I didn't think I could even finish as I was a 400 meter runner (at the time).
He's like a mentor as he really discovered my talent.
(LetsRun.com's Question #1) Is David aware that the world record holder hasn't won the Olympic 800 since 1976 and does that make him a bit nervous?
Yeah (I'm aware). It's tough and I know there is a lot of pressure to win this Olympics and it means a lot to me. I know that Alberto Juantorena won the 400 and 800 in 1976 and since then with Sebastian Coe being the greatest and former world record holder - he didn't manage to win the 800 - but he won the 1500. So it's an added pressure on me but I'm really working hard so I can do it.
(LetsRun.com's Question #2) Nearly every race David runs in has a rabbit but the biggest race in the world - the Olympics - are a non-rabbitted race. Does David want to practice running some races this year without rabbits? Is he nervous if there isn't a rabbit?
Some of the races we have been doing with (his personal pace-setter Sammy) Tangui (and that's normal), and most races from 800 to 10,000 have a pace-setter.
(But) when it comes to championships of course, there are no pace-setters. I have been doing well (in those) even in high school - we didn't use to have pace setters. In the Kenyan trials, we normally don't have any pace-setters. We have been doing well on controlling race. I think I'm prepared for that and mentally I think I'm strong mentally. Except for Berlin, in all championships, going back to high school, I have done well. I think I'm ready and prepared for that know how to do championship running.
Go back to 400?
The 800 is my special event. The 400 is an exciting event and it's fun but the 800 is my main event. If you start swapping, you might lose the rhythm for the 800 so during the season I don't do any 400s.
On what his plan would be if someone else tried to take the pace out really hard in the Olympics?
I'm a front runner and I have been doing that since 2009. I've always been a front-runner. Sometimes you don't know. Somebody might try to push with a crazy pace. If someone tried to go like 47 for the first lap, you can't do that as you'll die.
The championships can be tricky - you have to think about all of the options during the race and be ready for any situation that will come. But I know I'm a good front-runner and I know how to control the pace. (But) if somebody decided to go in front (really fast), that would be better as it would be like somebody pacing for me.
On a potential clash with Usain Bolt:
I can say that the Olympic 4 x 400 would come after my 800 meters. I'm hoping the Kenyan team will get the qualifying team and make the final. If they want me on the team, I'm ready. I'll have no pressure as I'll have completed my individual event.
People have been asking me that because my father was medallist in the 4 x 400.
It would be fun to have the 800 meter world record holder against the 100 and 200 world record holder - to meet in the middle - just for fun.
What about an open race between him and Bolt in the open 400?
"Wow (laughs). Usain Bolt is a 100 and 200 (guy). I think it would be good for the fans. I don't really have the speed that he has but I have a little bit of the mileage.
On what in particular he wants to see in New York:
It's a beautiful city that you see in books. But I'm going there for one mission - I'm going for the competition. That is the important thing. I want to see that I'm improving and making progress towards the Olympics.
On whether he'd ever run the New York City marathon or any marathon in general like former 800 meter world record holder Wilson Kipketer who ran New York this year (Kipketer finished in 3:20:48).
It's quite interesting sometimes when you retire. You are free to do what you want, but not as a major competition. It's something that comes when you retire. (Something like that) will come later. I really want to concentrate on the Olympics but maybe after the Olympics, I could try some other events - maybe the 1500 or 1000 - but not until after the Olympics.
You can do it for fun but for me it's going to be a little difficult (to do a marathon). I don't think I can go that far.
On the pressures he faces at home in Kenya and how his family helps him cope:
It's very hard sometimes. There is family pressure and friend pressure and expectations from your country and the training is very demanding. All of it is very difficult.
But my family is understanding. They support me. I have a wife and one kid. They are very happy and praying for me.