It takes a mighty performance to grab a share of the headlines when Usain Bolt is in the house, but David Rudisha was up to the task on Thursday, breaking his own 800-meter world record to win the Olympic gold medal in 1:40.91. Rudisha came out fast, as usual, reaching 400 meters in 49 seconds. He maintained his pace, running the next 200 in 25 seconds, then slowed - relatively speaking - to 26 seconds in the final 200. Rudisha began dominating 800-meter running shortly after the Beijing Olympics, winning two World championships and reducing the world record to 1:41.01. He filled in the only empty space on his resume with Thursday's victory. The previous Olympic 800-meter record of 1:42.58 was set by Norway's Vebjorn Rodal in 1996.
But Rudisha wasn't the only runner to set an 800-meter record Thursday, as second-place Nijel Amos of Botswana set a new world junior mark of 1:41.73. Seven of the eight competitors in the 800 ran personal bests, including bronze medalist Timothy Kitum of Kenya (1:42.53). Fourth-place Duane Solomon of the U.S. challenged the American 800-meter record of 1:42.60 set by his coach, Johnny Gray, in 1985, but fell just short at 1:42.82.
Bolt, meanwhile, didn't set a record in the 200-meter final, but he became the first Olympic sprinter to complete two consecutive 100-200 doubles by winning in 19.32 seconds. Bolt rocketed through the turn well ahead of the field while running in Lane 7, even though he was constantly glancing to his left to check out Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake in Lane 4. With the race in hand, Bolt eased up just before the line or he would've broken his Olympic record of 19.30. Blake was a strong second in 19.44, while Warren Weir completed the Jamaican medals sweep in a personal best 19.84.
Ashton Eaton wrapped up his decathlon victory by running a safe 1500 meters. The American cruised home to victory with 8,869 points, 14 below Roman Sebrle's Olympic record, but easily good enough for an Olympic gold medal at the age of 24. Trey Hardee, not typically a strong 1500-meter runner, scored a personal best 4:40.94 to secure the silver medal with 8,671 points, while Cuba's Leonel Suarez grabbed the bronze with 8,523. Suarez shot from eighth to third in the standings after the evening's first decathlon event by throwing the javelin 76.94/252-5, a new Olympic decathlon record. Hardee threw a season-best 66.65/218-8 while Eaton recorded a personal best 61.96/203-3 to take an insurmountable lead into the 1500.
The race for the women's javelin gold medal was essentially over after the first throw Friday as defending champion Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic opened with a throw measuring 66.90/219-5 that nobody else topped. Nobody except Spotakova, that is, as she secured her victory was a season-best 69.55/228-2 in the fourth round. Overall, Spotakova had the four longest throws of the competition. The silver medal was also decided in the first round as Christina Obergfoll reached 65.16/213-9. Fellow German Linda Stahl earned the bronze with a fourth-round toss of 64.91/212-11.
Christian Taylor, the 2011 World champion, was on the edge of elimination after beginning the triple jump final with two fouls. He then leaped 17.15/56-3 to put himself safely into the top eight who continued to the fourth round. Having dodged that bullet, Taylor moved from fifth place to first, leaping 17.81/58-5 in the fourth round to take a lead that he never relinquished. Fellow American Will Claye, who held the lead since the second round, tried to answer Taylor and improved to 17.62/57-9¾, which earned him the silver. First-round leader Fabrizio Donato of Italy eventually reached 17.48/57-4 to finish third.
South Africa's Caster Semenya was the fastest woman in the 800 Thursday, winning her semifinal heat in 1:57.67. Mariya Savinova won the third semi in 1:58.57 to lead three Russians into Sunday's final, while Pamela Jelimo of Kenya took the opening heat in 1:59.42.
The United States was the class of the 4 x 100-meter relay heats, winning in 41.64 seconds. Jeneba Tarboh, who was involved in the third-place tie in the 100 meters in the U.S. Trials, made her Olympic debut running the second leg, taking the baton from Tianna Madison, then handing off to Bianca Knight, with Lauryn Williams running the anchor leg. Ukraine won the second heat in 42.36, edging Jamaica (42.37), which overcame a barely-legal second exchange to reach Friday's final. The final still figures to be a tight U.S.-Jamaica battle, with runners such as Carmelita Jeter, Allyson Felix, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown no doubt joining the fray.
There is no early session on Friday. Tomorrow's competition begins with the men's pole vault final at 7 p.m. London time.