Early in David Rudisha’s running career, fellow native Kenyan Wilson Kipketer identified Rudisha as someone who could break Kipketer’s 800-meter world record. Kipketer was proven correct – twice – in 2010, as Rudisha lowered the world mark to 1:41.09, then to 1:41.01. Sandwiched between those performances was Rudisha’s Diamond League championship-clinching victory over Abubaker Kaki. In 2012, Rudisha won his first Olympic gold medal and lowered his 800-meter world mark to 1:40.91.
Rudisha’s father, Daniel, won a silver medal in the 1968 Olympics as part of Kenya’s 4 x 400-meter relay team. He later showed the medal to his young son, hoping to inspire David to achieve running success of his own. According to David, his dad’s achievement did, indeed, give him a boost of self-confidence.
Rudisha began competing seriously, in the decathlon, in 2004. Following in his father’s footsteps, he switched the 400 the next year, while attending secondary school at St. Patrick’s Iten. His coach at St. Patrick’s, Colm O’Connell, then suggested Rudisha try the 800. O’Connell has been Rudisha’s coach ever since.
In his first meet outside of Africa, Rudisha won the 800-meter World Junior championship in 2006, in Beijing. In 2007 he won the Africa Junior championship plus a pair of Golden League meets, in Zurich and Brussels. Rudisha gained African championships in 2008 and 2010 and first broke the African 800-meter record in Rieti, Italy in 2009 (Kipketer was a Danish citizen, so his world mark didn’t count as the African record).
Bumps in the Road:
Leg injuries prevented Rudisha from competing in Kenya’s Olympic trials in 2008. He earned a spot on the national team for the 2009 World Championships, but laid back too far in the semifinal. His finishing kick only brought him to third place and he didn’t qualify for the final.
- Height: 6-3
- Weight: 157
- Birth date: Dec. 17, 1988
- Hometown: Kilgoris, Kenya
- Personal best: 1:40.9 (800); 45.50 (400)