David Rudisha on his way to breaking Sebastian Coe's stadium record in the 800m in the Oslo Diamond League (© Mark Shearman)
Oslo, NorwayLiving up to it’s ‘race of the night’ billing, David Rudisha and Abubaker Kaki produced one of the finest – and fastest – 800m races of all-time to highlight the ExxonMobil Bislett Games in Oslo, the third stop of the IAAF Diamond League Series.
The ‘Next Generation’ has arrived
They’re called the ‘Next Generation’ of the men’s 800, and with Rudisha and Kaki going head-to-head for the first time this season, an assault on Sebastian Coe’s 1:42.33 meeting record, set 31 years ago, was a distinct possibility.
In lane seven was the Kenyan Rudisha, at 21 already the African record holder at 1:42.01, and immediately to his inside was Kaki of Sudan, just 20 and already a two-time World indoor champion, who set the World junior record on this track two years ago when he scorched to a 1:42.69, still his career best. Neither fared well at last year’s World Championships, with Oslo marking their first high profile start since.
As expected, it was Rudisha, who took the initiative after the break, tucking behind pace-setter – and training partner – Sammy Tangui to assume his familiar front-running strategy, and immediately built a two metre buffer ahead of Kaki, who was matching the tempo of the much taller Kenyan stride for stride. Reaching the midway point in just under 49 seconds, Rudisha’s advantage grew to two-and-a-half metres down the back straight, and appeared to grow as the pair entered the final turn.
But Kaki began to eat up much of the gap over the final 50 metres, but in the end couldn’t catch the more powerful Rudisha who, with Coe watching from the stands, stopped the clock in 1:42.04 to smash the British legend’s meet record set nine years before Rudisha was born.
“It was fast from the beginning and I knew that after 600 metres I would still need to push,” said Rudisha, who now owns the seventh and eighth fastest performances of all time. Only World record holder Wilson Kipketer has more appearances in the all-time top-10, with six. That’s one stat Rudisha hopes to revise in the near term. “I’m not thinking about the world record now, but more about being consistent in the 1:42 range.”
Kaki was no less impressive in second, his 1:42.23 national record earning him the distinction as the possessor of the fastest non-winning performance in history, and just outside the all-time top-10.
"I was hoping to attack in the last 100 metres, but David Rudisha was very strong," said Kaki. "But I ran a national record and a personal best so I must be satisfied It was a great race."