David Rudisha’s 2012 Olympic 800m triumph has been chosen as the athletics moment of the decade.
Over the past two weeks, athletics fans from around the world have been casting their votes on the World Athletics Instagram page, whittling down a long list of 16 moments.
In the final stage of voting, Rudisha was up against Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record from Berlin in 2018. The votes were close, but Rudisha ultimately had the edge, 1151 votes to Kipchoge’s 939.
Rudisha’s victory in London in 2012 was the greatest moment of the Kenyan’s career. Leading up to those Games, he had twice broken the world record in 2010 and won the world title in 2011. He arrived in London undefeated throughout the 2012 season and with the four fastest times in the world that year. Unsurprisingly, he started as the overwhelming favourite.
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But few would have predicted that Rudisha would have been capable of breaking his own world record in a non-paced championship setting. One of the few people who perhaps had an inkling of what was to come was Kenyan teammate Timothy Kitum, whom Rudisha had told before the race: “Don’t follow me or you’ll die towards the end. Go for the silver.”
It turned out to be good advice as Rudisha was unchallenged. He passed through 200m in 23.4 and 400m in 49.28. He already had a two-metre lead as he entered the back straight for the second time and his advantage only grew as the race progressed, reaching 600m in 1:14.30.
Urged on by the 80,000 fans who were sensing a stunning moment in the making, the long-striding Rudisha maintained his lead to the finish, crossing the line in 1:40.91 and punching the air as he did so, a lifetime’s ambition realised.
“I have waited for this moment for a long time,” said Rudisha. “I had no doubt about winning, but to come here and get a world record is unbelievable.”