May 25, 2013
Randall’s Island, NY- Considering David Rudisha‘s PR was almost two seconds faster than the next closest person in the race, there was very little question about who should cross the finish first in today’s 800 at the NYC adidas Grand Prix. However, the field did have a ray of hope given the windy and rainy conditions (mid 50s, 15+ mph winds at a minimum, people in the press area were wearing gloves), which seem to be Rudisha’s kryptonite.
In the end, though, there was none of that as Rudisha gapped the field with a lap to go and then stormed away in the final 100 to get the win in 1:45.14. The race started out with rabbit extraordinaire Matt Scherer taking them through the first lap in 50.64 with Rudisha in 2nd. 50.64 may sound slow but after the race, Rudisha told the press corps (interview embedded on the left) that given the horribly cool and windy conditions, he asked Scherer to go out in 50 as if he had gone too fast, he was afraid he might risk injury.
Amazingly at 50.64, Scherer had actually gapped the field slightly as Rudisha was just over 51 seconds for his first 400, and that gap grew a bit as they came by the bell. But then with about 300m to go, Rudisha turned it on and blew by Scherer, who dropped out and had a good lead over the rest of the field. The others reacted and did close the gap on Rudisha slightly by the time they were on the homestretch, but in the final straight there was no question who would win, as Rudisha threw in one last surge and pulled away easily.
“Today’s race was a little bit tough you know because of the weather, though it was good, a good run and I tried my best,” said Rudisha afterwards.
Behind him there was an intense fight for 2nd place between Kenya’s Olympic bronze medalist Timothy Kitum, the US’s Erik Sowinski, who has been having a dream year after setting the US 600m record indoors and winning the US indoor 800 title, and Great Britain’s Andrew Osagie, who has the unlucky distinction of being the guy who amazingly got last in the Olympic final with a 1:43.77. With about 50m to go, there was some contact between Sowinski and Kitum (see the photo just after the fall on the right) and Sowinski went down with Kitum stumbling, effectively giving Osagie 2nd place honors (1:46.44). Kitum took 3rd (1:46.93) while Sowinski would get up and finish last in 1:53.68.
With Sowinski going down, the fight for the top American was between Michael Rutt and Robby Andrews. Rutt has been having a solid 2013 (beating Andrews the last two times they met this outdoor season), while Andrews has been struggling to find form and was hoping that stepping back down to his go-to event, the 800, might turn things around. Well, his struggles would continue as he was 6th in 1:48.57, losing to Rutt’s 1:47.53 in 5th. 2009 world champion and 2004 Olympic silver medalist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi beat both of them out for 4th.
QT#1: After the race, we asked Sowinski what happened. He said he was closing well and pumped as he thought he was going to finish second, but got bumped on the inside (he wasn’t sure by whom, but if that happened it likely was Osagie) and totally became Jello-legged and went down to his outside, nearly taking a slew of others with him. He said he was upset about it and tried to protest but was stunned when the officials told him not to bother as in their minds, they thought he was responsible. Our interview with Sowinski is embedded below the results – it’s definitely an interesting one to listen to.
QT #2: Olympic 1,500 silver medallist Leo Manzano was only 8th in this race in 1:48.89. We spoke with the Manzano, who has been struggling throughout 2013, after the race, and while he said he thought he’d run faster today, he wasn’t too down as he said he’s pleased with the way his training has been going and seemed confident he’ll be there when it counts – at USAs. We also asked him about the fact that he doesn’t have a shoe sponsor. The video interview is embedded below the results.
QT #3: We also caught up with Robby Andrews (interview embedded below results). Off camera while talking to others, he seemed fairly upbeat that he was at least somewhat competitive, but he admitted to us that it’s been a bit of a struggle so far this year. We asked him if he might run the 800 at USAs, not the 1,500 like last year, and it certainly seemed to us in reading between the lines that that is likely.
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