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Athletics | International

Rudisha aims to make Coe proud



David Rudisha wants to make Sebastian Coe proud and upstage the chief Olympic organiser at the same time by winning 800 metres gold at the London Games.

Coe held the world record for 18 years between 1979 and 1997 but while winning 1 500m gold in 1980 and 1984 had to settle for 800m silvers at those Games.

Kenya-born Dane Wilson Kipketer, the man who took Coe's record and held it for 13 years before Rudisha lowered it twice to now 1 minute 41.01 seconds, suffered a similar fate with 2000 silver and 2004 bronze.

"The people I like, who really inspired me how to run my races and how to win are Wilson and Sebastian Coe. Unfortunately they didn't get a (gold) medal in 800m," Rudisha recently said in a conference call.

"I really like to watch them from time to time. It got me motivated for the world record. I feel like I owe them to get the Olympic title and make a good thing complete.

"With the help of my friend, Lord Sebastian Coe, it is going to be great and I want to make him proud."

Coe has nothing but praise for the 23-year-old Kenyan Rudisha who missed the 2008 Games injured but has taken the distance by storm with the world record and 2011 world title.

"If it is not going to be a British athlete that wins the 800 metres Olympic title I would love to see David win it," Coe told dpa.

"I think he is a proper 800m runner. Only four people have held the world record since 1976 at that distance. It is a very exclusive club. David has now joined it as a junior partner."

However, being the 800m world record holder appears to be a curse at Olympic races which in most cases are tactical rather than fast affairs and have only seen two world record holders take gold, Peter Snell of New Zealand in 1964 and American Dave Wottle in 1972.

Rudisha would be the third if he takes gold on August 9 and is definitely the top favourite as he is also already top of the 2012 list with 1:43.10 from Doha on May 11.

"I am going there to win that title," he said. "I am the world record holder and the world champion. Those are good titles but I am missing the big one at the Olympics."

Rudisha says he has matured since going out in the semifinals at the 2009 worlds and is confident overall even though there is big opposition including Ethiopian Mohammed Aman who is second for the year in 1:43.51 and beat Rudisha late in the 2011 season.

"I know that people are expecting a lot from me. Everybody says I am the favourite but I know it is tough. It is always hard to maintain (form) and win races, especially with my way of running (from the front)," he said.

The 800m are the event in which Kenya won its first ever medal at Olympics, a bronze from Wilson Kiprugut in 1964.

The first gold did not come until 1988 from Paul Ereng and and Rudisha would now be the fourth Kenyan to win 800m gold if he prevails in London, provided he makes it through the tough domestic trials or gets a wildcard.

Family pride is also at stake as Rudisha's father Daniel was part of the 4x400m relay team which took bronze in 1968.

"I want to bring home maybe a gold medal so that we can have two medals from the Olympics," he said.

Rudisha can also emulate his father by competing in the 4x400m relay for which he is ready in London as the schedule allows it, possibly even for a meeting sprint king Usain Bolt who could be on the Jamaican relay team for the first time as well at a big meet.

"People have been saying that Usain might run it. It would be a very interesting race. Maybe we will be doing the last leg together, that would be great," Rudisha said in Doha.

Gold in London would complete Rudisha's title collection at young age, but he said that would not end his motivation as he will simply seek to repeat in the future which has not happened at the Olympics since Snell's double in 1960 and 1964.

Attacking the world record is another goal but Rudisha is sceptical whether he will be the man who can break the magic barrier of 1:40 minutes.

"To run sub 1:40 is quite tough. Maybe under 1:41 is possible. But sub 1:40 I don't know how it can be done and who can do it," he said.



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