November 18, 2017

World Championships 800m – Can Rudisha win?

The men’s 800m at recent championships has always turned out into amazing races, as well as very fast ones. It is only a week now until all of the worlds best 800m line up against each other with Olympic and World Champion, David Rudisha not going into the championships as favourite, a definite change from previous years. This time new faces like Amel Tuka will look to win medals.

Who will win 800m Gold?

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Here are the winners of the last major races over this distance where the common theme – barring the Commonwealth Games race due to bad conditions – is that they have all been fast races.

2011 World Championships
David Rudisha – 1:43.91
Abubaker Kaki – 1:44.41

2012 Olympic Games
David Rudisha – 1:40.91
Nigel Amos – 1:41.73

2013 World Championships
Mohammed Aman – 1:43.33
Nick Symmonds –

2014 Commonwealth Games
Nigel Amos – 1:45.18
David Rudisha – 1:45.48

David Rudisha:
What can also be seen from these big races is the presence of David Rudisha in three out of the four championships. In the 2013 wold championships he was out injured where he could not retain his title. This injury would also spread into large parts of the 2014 season meaning his fitness was far from the same level between 2010 – 2012 meaning his speed endurance was not at the same level of the fast finishing Nigel Amos.

As I said previously, the golden years so far for Rudisha have come between 2010 – 2012 where it all culminated in him winning Olympic Gold whilst breaking the world record in 1:40.91. In this race he would run from the front with incredible splits of 23.40, 25.88, 25.02 and 26.61 showing his incredible front running ability which he had first adopted to win gold in the Daegu World Championships.

David Rudisha was unstoppable at the London 2012 Olympics
David Rudisha was unstoppable at the London 2012 Olympics

After the huge success in London, Rudisha has definitely struggled to show the same form he did in that great year of 2012. Many people are now suggesting that he may even struggle to run under 1:42 again, with his fastest time since the Olympics being 1:42.98. Along with this, he has only run 1:43.58 this year at the New York Diamond League, in comparison to Amel Tuka’s time of 1:42.51 which is the world leading time set at the Monaco Diamond League.

The fact that Rudisha is currently considerably off the pace was once again shown at the Anniversary Games in July where he was defeated for a second time – the first time being at the Lausanne Diamond League – by Nigel Amos, the Commonwealth Champion. In the Olympic stadium, as with the race in Lausanne, Rudisha lacked the final crucial speed over the last 100m. The elegant, free flowing style which is always a joy to watch still remained, just not to the same intensity which we have seen in recent years.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 16.53.49

However, I do remain optimistic to how Rudisha will perform in Beijing. He has had another months training under his belt by the time he will face his rivals and as he recently said in a tweet, his power shown previously has now been activated.

The Competition:
I have mentioned previously lots about the likes of Nigel Amos and Mohammed Aman, two of the best 800m runners of the past three years. However, very little has been said about this new, up and coming athlete, Amel Tuka. Tucker is a Bosnian runner, never really living up to his potential until this year. Coming into the 2015 season he had a personal best of 1:46.12, however has developed this into a 1:42.51 time, better than anyone else this year.

As said by Steve Cram at the Monaco Diamond League, he is very good at judging races, not ever going with the incredibly fast opening 400m which we see nowadays, but instead sitting towards the back in the early stages. As with all of his runs this year he has adopted this tactic and come from behind to win many races, including the one in Monaco where he was able to outback Amos.

Amel Tuka may be going into the championships as favourite
Amel Tuka may be going into the championships as favourite

Both Tuka and Amos have great finishes, being able to kick strong over the final 100m. This contradicts Rudisha’s traditional long run for home, running hard all the way from the front, always running hard races rather than slow tactical ones. The slower races would favour Amos and Tuka, being able to come from behind. Rudisha’s tactic however wouldn’t normally allow this with the pace being so fast you cannot respond, however this year I don’t believe Rudisha is in the shape to be able to execute this, turning the World Championships into a very interesting race indeed.

Finally, You have the rest of the main contenders in the likes of the reining World Champion, Mohammed Aman who has had a very up and down season, running fast an slo times. If he gets it right on the day, he can certainly be a very dangerous man, being in great condition with his training at the Nike Oregon Track Club. Along with Aman comes 1500m specialist, Ayanleh Souleiman. Souleiman is doubling up in both the 1500m and 800m so may be tired, but he has always shown he is very strong in the final stages, commuting with Kiprop in the final 100m at the Anniversary Games, making him yet another threat.

Conclusion:
For me, it is almost impossible to tell what is going to happen in this 800m race at the World Championships. There are possibly four or five men who could win gold on the day depending on how the race turns out. The tactics of the race will certainly be the biggest factor, if Rudisha decides he is fit enough to run from the front he may be able to drop some of the faster finishers, giving himself a better chance.

However, all of the top runners have already proved this year that they are capable of running these very fast times of 1:42 meaning they can go with Rudisha. I think that it is going to take a time of that range, 1:42 to beat Rudisha if it is run in a fast fashion. Saying this, if Rudisha doesn’t take up the lead, it could be anyones race, Tuka, Amos or Aman could easily come through on the day, we will have to wait and see.

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