Men's 800 Meter Final: David Rudisha Becomes A Legend By Winning Gold With A World Record In A Truly Historic 800

Duane Solomon And Nick Symmonds Run 1:42 And Don't Medal As Every Single Place 1 Through 8 Is An All Time Best Place For Time

August 9, 2012
London, England

King David has arrived on the biggest stage.

Kenya's David Rudisha, who came into the Olympic track and field action as the biggest favorite in the sport, more than lived up to the hype as he led wire to wire and won his first Olympic gold in legendary style as he broke his own world record by running 1:40.91 and became the first man in history to run 800 meters under 1:41.

In the process of becoming a legend, Rudisha in essence served as the rabbit for the seven other men in the field who all came up big in their own ways, as six of the seven other men ran a personal best time and the one man who didn't pr set a new seasonal best time.

The other two medals went to teen prodigies. 18-year old world junior champion Nijel Amos skipped the 1:42s entirely and lowered his pb from 1:43.11 to 1:41.73 (a 1.38 pb) to grab silver as 17-year old Kenyan Timothy Kitum set an even bigger personal best as he ran 1:42.53 (a 1.41 pb) for bronze.

The two Americans in the final both ran spectacular races as they became just the second and third Americans to run under 1:43 but ended up out of the medals. Duane Solomon was fourth in 1:42.82 and a fast-closing Nick Symmonds fifth in 1:42.95. Solomon's coach Johnny Gray is the American record holder at 1:42.60.

The Race
With such a fast race, it's pretty easy to understand what happened. Rudisha got out and went out fast from the gun and every else did as well. There was hardly any changing in positions for the first 600 meters and really until the last 100.

What was surprising though was while the pace was so hot, the others weren't conceding this race to Rudisha. Rudisha went through 200 in 23 and 400 in 49.28 but Sudan's Abubaker Kaki, (the silver medallist in 2011) Ethiopia's 18-year old Mohammad Aman (the only man to beat Rudisha in 2011 or 2012), and Amos were right behind Rudisha, one after another. Then there was a slight gap to Solomon and Kitum before another slight gap to Britain's Andrew Osiage and another gap to Symmonds. Screen shots below of what it looked like at 200 and 400.

The Scene at 200m

The Scene at 400m

As the runners completed the turn and began to enter the backstretch, the real racing began as Rudisha started to pull away from the field and there was bumping between Aman and Kaki as Aman moved into second.

Rudisha hit 600 in 1:14.30 and the world record assault was on as this was .29 ahead of what his 600 split was when he set his first world record of 1:41.01 and .24 ahead of what it was when he ran 1:41.09. At this point, Rudisha had a 6-7 meter lead on a group of four fellow Africans - Aman, Amos, Kitum and Kaki in that order - who would battle it out for the medals. The big mover on the turn was Amos as he separated himself from the other three and went after Rudisha.

"Went after" may not be the best description as he didn't really gain much, if any - he just stayed roughly 6 to 7 meters back the whole way. But let one thing be clear, if it wasn't for the fact that Rudisha was in the race and setting a new Olympic and world record, the talk would be all about the 18-year old Amos as he didn't really lose any ground to Rudisha over the final 200 which was covered in 26.61 by Rudisha.

When Rudisha crossed the line and saw the time on the scoreboard, a look of disbelief appeared on his face before he raised his arms in celebration.

Amos ended up a clear second in a new Botswana and world junior record of 1:41.73- well under the old Olympic record of Norway's Vebjørn Rodal of 1:42.58 from 1996 . Entering the final 100, Aman and Kitum were side by side in battle for third but Aman would soon fade as Kitum ended up a clear third in 1:42.53 as Aman ended up sixth in a new Ethiopian record of 1:43.20. Closing well at the end was the US's Duane Solomon as he moved from sixth at 700 to 4th at the finish (1:42.82), but the biggest gainer over the last 100 meters in terms of place was the American Nick Symmonds. Symmonds didn't make contact with anyone in the field until 700 meters in but he really closed well in the last 50 before finishing just behind Solomon in 1:42.95. Screen shots of the 600m and 700m marks below.

The Scene at 600m

The Scene at 700m

The race certainly wash historic for how fast it was. Every place set a all-time record for place as shown below:

The Fastes Places For Time in 800 Meter History
1. David Rudisha 1:40.91 (previous fastest winning time in an 800 race was obviously 1:41.01)
2. Nijel Amos 1:41.73 (previous fastest 2nd place performance was Abuaker Kaki's 1:42.23 in Oslo in 2010)
3. Timothy Kitum 1:42.53 (previous fastest 3rd place performance was Japheth Kimutai 's 1:42.69 in Brussels in 1999)
4. Duane Solomon 1:42.82 (previous fastest 4th place performance was Norberto Tellez's in Atlanta in 1996)
5. Nick Symmonds 1:42.95 ((previous fastest 5th place performance was Djabir Saïd-Guerni's 1:43.09 in Brussels in 1999)
6. Mohammaed Aman 1:43.20(previous fastest 6th place performance was Yuriy Borzakovskiy's 1:43.30 in Zurich in 2001)
7. Abubaker Kaki 1:43.32 (previous fastest 7th place performance was Alfred Kirwa Yego's 1:43.89 in Rieti in 2006)
8.Andrew Osagie 1:43.77 (previous fastest 8th place performance was Yuriy Borzakovskiy's 1:44.20 in Brussels in 2002)

The top three times tonight were better than the previous Olympic record which came from Atlanta 1996, which produced four performances between 1:42.58 and 1:42.85 as shown below.

Top 4 At The 1996 Olympics
1 1 1:42.58 Vebjørn Rodal NOR 1 Atlanta 1996
2 2 1:42.74 Hezekiel Sepeng RSA 2 Atlanta 1996
3 3 1:42.79 Fred Onyancha KEN 3 Atlanta 1996
4 4 1:42.85 Norberto Tellez CUB 4 Atlanta 1996

Tonight, one person broke 1:41, another 1:42 and five total were under 1:43.

Update: Rudisha Talks About World Record, Teenage Medallists Speak as Well

The night belonged to David Rudisha. His run was truly historic. Rudisha said, "Nobody has ever done the 800 world record without a pace setter. I though it was going to be difficult. I knew I could run 1:41 but breaking the world record is a different story."

(Someone has had to break the 800m world record at some point without a rabbit, but not in the more modern era. Stat guys email us).

Rudisha said he knew he was fit and was confident he could run in the 1:40s at some point this year but would need perfect conditions. After running the rounds here, he realized the track was fast. When he woke up on Thursday, Rudisha saw the weather was a perfectly sunny day and he prayed it would continue.

However, after running the rounds Rudisha said he has feeling "a little bit tired" and did not expect a world record.

500m into Thursday's final, Rudisha realized he was flying. Rudisha said, "When I approached the 500 meters (mark) I saw 61 and that is the pace I normally (come) close to when I go for the world record. Then I pushed on the back straight. Then I saw 1:14 at 600 and I then I knew I was in the world record bracket. I decided just to just push the last 200. The cheering was incredible and that helped support me to move on the last 100."

Rudisha had thrown caution out the window and was rewarded with the world record. As he said, "I knew I could do something special. I just felt it, so I decided to just try."

Rudisha's father was Daniel got a silver medal in the 4X400 for Kenya at the 1968 Olympics. David Rudisha is a real student of the sport and he said he found a magazine article where his dad talked about wanting to break the 400m world record. Rudisha said before the start of the race, he thought of his father who would be back home in Kenya watching the race on tv.

Rudisha almost needed a world record to win because of the two youngsters behind him. 18 year old World junior champion Nijel Amos not only dipped under 1:42 for the silver, but it was Botswana's first Olympic medal ever. Amos was taken off on a stretcher after the 800m, but told organizers he was fine, just short of breath after his momentous run.

Amos's rise in the support is phenomenal and he could challenge Rudisha for years to come.

Amos did not even take up the sport of Athletics until 2009, his last year of junior school in Botswana. has two results for him in 2010, a 2:26.92 1000m and 8:33.93 3000m. Last year was his final year of senior school and he ran 1:47.28 for 5th at the World Youth champs. This year his upward rise continued as he moved to South African High Performance Center for some training. He had not only been undefeated racing in mostly minor meets or junior races this year, but he had run 1:43.11 already and won the World Junior Champs in 1:43.79. When asked who his coach was he said he came to the Olympics with the national team coach, Mr Otsetswe. Amos sounds like the rawest talent the sport has ever seen.

Amos did have one advantage young talents in another era did not have, the ability to watch videos of David Rudisha on youtube. Amos said, "I watched Rudisha's videos when I started to run 800m. I learned a lot from him, he is my idol." Not a bad guy to emulate.

The bronze medallist Timothy Kitum at 17 is even younger than Amos. Kitum was the one guy in the field who had actually raced Amos before. Earlier this year Kitum was the silver medallist at the World Junior Champs behind Amos. Last year, Kitum beat Amos at the Commonwealth Youth Games. Kitum was also third at the World Youth Champs and Amos was fifth there. So last year both these youngsters were getting beat at the under 17 Championships and now they are Olympic medallists.

Kitum had the advantage of being teammates with Rudisha. Kitum said, "Rudisha told me everybody will run a personal best." Kitum said Rudisha also said he would go out in 48-49 and told Kitum not to go with him. Instead Rudisha told Kitum to split about 50 so "I could feel comfortable." Kitum followed the plan perfectly.

Update: American Duane Solomon and Nick Symmonds React on Joining the 1:42 Club and Not Medalling

The Americans Duane Solomon and Nick Symmonds both ran the races of their lives and both came up just short of the medals. Both were pleased with their performances with a tinge of hurt at having come so close to the medals.

Prior to Thursday, only one American had broken 1:43, American record holder Johnny Gray, who got the bronze at the 1992 Olympics. A month ago, Gray somehow predicted his pupil Solomon, a man who then had only broken 1:45 only once in his life in the Olympic Trials final to make the US team, would run 1:43 if he made the Olympic final. Gray also guaranteed Solomon would medal if he made the final. Solomon proved his coach wrong, he ran even faster, 1:42.83, but unbelievably it wasn't good enough for a medal.

Afterwards, Solomon said what everyone was thinking, "I expected 1:43 to medal. Man, it's crazy that 1:40 won the race and two 1:42s didn't medal. Rudisha showed he's on a different level and the best in the world."

Solomon was happy with running so fast, but he knew he was so close to an Olympic medal. He said, "It hurts a little bit because I was so close. I saw the line and I saw the guy was coming back to me. I just didn't have enough leeway to catch him. I guess I could have run kind of a different race but I can't really with a pr like that."

Duane said, "I expected some people to be tired today after two rounds" which clearly wasn't the case.

He added, "The training we do is very intense. We kind of compare it to racing. We train so hard it makes the races seem a little easier. No one expected the race to be this quick that is why we thought we could medal here with a 1:43. But not even the 1:42(s) that me and Nick ran got a medal. No one really expected that. And I don't think anyone saw a world record (coming) either."

Duane had no idea what was next for him, in a state of shock with how things played out. When asked what led to his dramatic improvement this year, he said, "I just followed the plan Johnny gave me... We just had to figure out what worked for me. This year we figured out what worked for me, we didn't have to travel to big meets to run quick. We just had to train hard, get a little base under me, and really work on things that didn't go right last year."

All year five time straight US champion Nick Symmonds was fixated on an Olympic medal. He ran the race of his life, even faster than he ever though was physically possible for him and he came home in fifth place, unbelievably as the second American. When Symmonds exited the track, we saw him smile and shake his head wondering what the hell just happened.

Immediately after the race, Nick already had a grasp on the historical significance of the race. "That was phenomenal. That race is going to go down in history as the greatest 800m ever run on all counts. You've got Rudisha setting a world record. You've got 8 people, almost all running personal bests. 1:43.7 - I said would probably win a medal here, if not gold, and it was good for last place here. What more can you ask out of an 8(00)? What more can you ask for me and Duane for bringing the product like that? I'm very proud of what we were able to accomplish," he said.

When asked whether he was upset of happy Nick said, "It's a mixed feeling. On one hand I'm devastated because I don't have medal. On the other hand I know a brought a phenomenal product tonight and did everything I could to get one. At least I can live with myself knowing I did everything possible."

Interestingly Nick said he ran faster tonight than he thought was possible. "I did everything possible. I brought a 1:42.9 which I never thought I'd humanly be able to do, redefining my own limits which is really what the sport is about, competing at the highest level and redefining what you are capable of. I just feel really honored," he said.

When pressed what he previously thought his absolutely limit was Nick said, "I thought I could run 1:43 mid maybe at one point in my life. I'm just not physically gifted enough to run 1:42 but it shows what I know." Prior to tonight, Nick had run 1:43.7 twice, 1:43.8 twice, and 1:43.9 once.

If he could do anything over again, what would have Nick changed? Nothing. "It you look at my splits, I ran the EXACT (Nick's emphasis) race I wanted to run... I ran 1:42.9 and it wasn't good enough for a medal so I did everything I can and I can sleep tonight," he said.

With 200 to go, Nick said he was thinking, "They'll have to come back to me there is no way they can hold this pace." Nick said he did not know Rudisha's pace but figured Rudisha had to be 1:14 at 600 which was correct.  

Nick said he was surprised with how well Duane Solomon did this year, but was full of praise for his teammate saying, "My hat goes off to him, that was an incredible race on his part."

In the past, Nick has said he is not a good time trialer. Now, he sees the possibility of Johnny Gray's record coming down. When asked about breaking Gray's record, Nick said, "If Duane keeps running well and I keep running well and we keep having match-offs in 2013 and are pushing each other every weekend I think we can do that. It would take combination of rabbits, weather and track surfaces and everything, but we're not very far off of it are we?"

Not far off at all, Nick. Nick said he had no idea what was next except he wanted to go hug his parents and coach and "go find a pint." We all should raise a pint to Nick and Duane.

A few quick takes and results below.

Quick Take (QT)#1: 1984 Olympic 1,500 silver medallist Steve Cram summed things up perfectly on BBC broadcast by simply saying, "What a privilege to be here."

QT #2: Rudisha told the BBC after the race: "I'm very happy. This is the moment I've been waiting for for a very long time to comer. To come here and break the world record is unbelievable. I had no doubt about winning but was waiting for perfect conditions to break the world record and today the weather was beautiful so I decided to just go for it.

QT #3: The Americans should be very proud of themselves. They both ran massive PBs. Solomon PRd by .62 and has PRd by 2.41 seconds on the year. Symmonds PRd by .80.

Solomon's coach  Johnny Gray, the American record holder, guaranteed a month ago that Solomon would medal as he said he was good enough to run 1:43 in the final and he hoped that Rudisha would drag him to a 1:42. Well Johnny's faith in Solomon was right on the money as Solomon ran 1:42. The guaranteed didn't prove to be correct but it's hard to fathom that 1:42.82 wouldn't medal. Solomon is now the fastest man at the Olympics at 800 without a medal.

Position Lane Bib Athlete Country Mark .
1 4 2319 David Lekuta Rudisha KEN 1:40.91 (WR)
2 5 1211 Nijel Amos BOT 1:41.73 (WJ)
3 3 2306 Timothy Kitum KEN 1:42.53 (PB)
4 7 3252 Duane Solomon USA 1:42.82 (PB)
5 8 3254 Nick Symmonds USA 1:42.95 (PB)
6 6 1678 Mohammed Aman ETH 1:43.20 (NR)
7 9 2967 Abubaker Kaki SUD 1:43.32 (SB)
8 2 1827 Andrew Osagie GBR 1:43.77 (PB)
Intermediate Bib Athlete nat Mark
400m 2319 David Lekuta Rudisha KEN 49.28
600m 2319 David Lekuta Rudisha KEN 1:14.30

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