News11 Jul 2010

Phenomenal 1:41.51 for Rudisha in Heusden-Zolder


1:41.51 - 800m for David Rudisha in Heusden-Zolder (© Nadia Verhoft)

HeusdenZolder, BelgiumDavid Rudisha ran an astonishing 800m on Saturday night at the KBC Night of Athletics in Heusden-Zolder (10). The Kenyan became the second fastest man in history at the 800m when he crossed the line in a phenomenal 1:41.51, an African record and the fastest time in the world since Wilson Kipketer broke the World record (1:41.11) at two occasions  in 1997.

Other highlights in Heusden-Zolder were the women’s High Jump where Ariane Friedrich from Germany beat Tia Hellebaut in front of the Belgian home crowd with 2.02m, and the men’s 1500m won by Kenyan Daniel Kipchirchir Komen in 3:32.14.

800m World record is now on target for Rudisha

David Rudisha had become the fastest 800m runner in the world last season when he set a personal best of 1:42.01 in Rieti 2009. And his 1:42.04 at the Bislett Games in Oslo was already the world leading mark of 2010. But still there was a lot of scepticism amongst the middle distance experts when the organisers announced earlier this week that Rudisha would attempt to break the 800m World record in Heusden-Zolder.

But the Kenyan sent a shiver through the stadium when he came into the final straight with a real opportunity to break the legendary World record of Wilson Kipketer (DEN). Rudisha finished just a few tenths of a second shy, and the 10,000 spectators realised they had just witnessed a unique and exceptional track performance from the 22-year-old Kenyan.

Rudisha brought his own pacemakers with him and they led him through somewhere beyond 550m. Sammy Tangui went through to the 400m in 49.14 with Rudisha remaining slightly behind, clocking an unofficial 49.65 at the bell. Boaz Lalang kept the pace going until Rudisha came through on the inside with 250m to go. In a lonely effort Rudisha cruised through the 600m in an unofficial 1:14.4 and hardly faded to finish the race in an African record, a personal best, a world leading and the third fastest 800m time in history of 1:41.51.

“Today I wanted to do something that I had never done before”, said Rudisha after his stunning race. “In the final stages it is always tough and I will need to improve on my last 50m if I want to break the World record. I do not feel disappointed at all about not breaking the World record. I enjoy to run well and to gradually become better and better. Today I wanted to run in the 1:41 and that is what I achieved and I feel great about that. But I’m confident that I will still improve and that is why breaking the World record is the next step in my development. It will happen.”

Friedrich beats Hellebaut on home soil

Tia Hellebaut made an impressive comeback last week in Madrid in jumping 1.95m in her first competition since she became the Olympic champion in Beijing in 2008. The local crowd expected Hellebaut to add a few centimetres to that mark, but the Belgian faced some technical problems when the bar was raised to 1.97m and she had to settle for 1.95m, the same height as last week.

“But it felt very good today”, said Hellebaut. “I need to become more consistent technically after having been out of competition for so long. I promise my fans that I will raise my level at the European Championships in Barcelona later this month.”

The High Jump competition witnessed the very much applauded revival of Ariane Friedrich. The German had been struggling the whole season but she looked relieved as she jumped consecutively over 2.00m and 2.02m. “It may have looked easy, but it is the result of hard work”, said Friedrich. “My preparation this year was disturbed by a number of minor problems and troubles. Today the crowd and the atmosphere in the stadium brought out the best in me. This is a true boost of confidence with the European Championships coming closer. It is my goal to make a medal there, I cannot be satisfied with anything less, even when I realise that the competition will be very tough over there.”

Daniel Kipchirchir Komen works his way back

The 1500m turned out to be a duel Kenyan between Daniel Kipchirchir Komen and Ismail Kombich. Komen was able to stretch out the pace in the ultimate 300m and crossed the line in a winning 3.32.16, the second fastest in the world this year. In the slipstream of the Kenyans a lot of personal and seasonal best performances were set.

“I am very happy with today’s race”, said Kipchirchir Komen. “In 2009 I suffered from problems with my stomach and I feel that I am becoming stronger and stronger now. The next goal is to qualify for the Commonwealth Games but basically my aim is to come back into athletics at my very best level.”

Damu Cherry dominates the 100m Hurdles

33-year-old Damu Cherry from the USA dominated a strong field in the 100m Hurdles as she crossed the line in 12.67 while Kelly Wells came in second in 12.93 only. “That proves that I can run a lot faster if I’m pushed to do so”, said Cherry. “I haven’t been able to run a lot this year and that’s why I feel excited about today’s race. I missed out the American World Championship team last year by one hundredth of a second and I definitely want to be in it in 2011. Competition will be very tough but I know that I am one of the best hurdlers and that I can make it to the team. Age is not an issue, I’m still very motivated because I love athletics so much.”

Mario Forsythe from Jamaica set a personal best to win the 200m in 20.43 ahead of Xavier Carter (USA) in 20.47. Jamaican Shereefa Lloyd won a 400m duel against American Moushaumi Robinson in 51.48 against 51.49. The women’s 1500m saw a surprising win from the 20 year old Ethiopian Abebe Arigawe in 4:01.96 who beat the more experienced America Erin Donohue in a sprint finsh (4:03.91). Kenyan Jacob Cheshari broke 13:00 minutes in the 5000m when he outsprinted his compatriot Josphat Menjo. Brahim Taleb (MOR) was the best steeplechaser in 8:17.71, and Hendrik Gruber (GER) won the Pole Vault with 5.70m.

Ivo Hendrix for the IAAF

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