Defending Champion David Rudisha Withdraws From 800 at 2017 Worlds Due to Quad Injury

July 31, 2017

One of the biggest stars in the sport will not be competing at the 2017 IAAF World Championships, which kick off in London on Friday. This morning, double Olympic champion David Rudisha announced on Twitter that he has been forced to withdraw from Worlds due to a quad strain.

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Rudisha had raced only four times in 2017, the most recent of which was a 1:44.90 victory in Hungary on July 4.

The news is a blow for the sport and bad news for fans. Five years ago at the London Olympics, Rudisha was responsible for one of the moments of the games, running a 1:40.91 world record in what remains the greatest 800-meter race of all time. Sadly, he will not get a chance to return to the same track and defend his world title.

Rudisha’s withdrawal also creates a problem for Athletics Kenya, which has already drawn criticism for its selection procedure in the men’s 800. Because Rudisha had a bye as defending champion, Kenya was allowed to enter four men at Worlds and named Rudisha, Emmanuel KorirKipyegon Bett and Ferguson Rotich to the team. Kenya could have also entered a fifth man as an alternate to take one of the other athletes’ place in case of an injury. The logical alternate would have been UTEP freshman Michael Saruni, who was third at the Kenyan Trials (and who should have been on the team instead of Rotich anyway, as explained here).

But on the provisional entry list, Kenya named just four men — Rudisha, Korir, Bett and Rotich — with no alternate. Which means that, as it stands, Kenya will only run three guys at Worlds when they could enter four (Rotich also has a bye as Diamond League champion). It may be possible to add Saruni to the team, but he’s not on great terms with Athletics Kenya right now. This situation was already a mess, but if Saruni doesn’t get to run at Worlds because Athletics Kenya failed to enter him as an alternate, it will go down as a travesty. Rudisha and the rest of Team Kenya spent last week in a training camp in Nairobi. Surely officials should have noticed Rudisha’s injury and entered Saruni as an alternate, if only as a precaution.

The first round of the men’s 800 begins on Saturday.

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