Kenya’s team slate for the 800 metres race had David Rudisha’s name even before the race began and he did not disappoint as he again registered the second fastest time on Kenyan soil as he rounded up the two laps in 1:43.76.
Behind him was Africa 800m bronze medallist, Jackson Kivuva, who made sure he left the selectors no choice but to include him in the team as he claimed the second automatic slot when he clocked 1:44.40 to edge out World silver medallist Alfred Kirwa Yego (1:44.78).
However, while the veteran athletes savour their victory, they must pay tribute to youngster Job Kinyor, the son of former Boston marathon champion Salina Kosgei, who was fourth in 1:45.07 with David Mutinda settling for fifth place in 1:45.55
Rudisha, who is the 800m World record holder, maintained his unbeaten run for almost two years. “Today’s race was very competitive. But I know how to control the pace from the front. I’m confident Kenya is going to sweep the podium in Daegu,” he said.
A thrilled Kivuva said: “I can’t believe I ran 1:44 here at home. I’ve been struggling to post that time abroad but I’m glad to claim a spot in the Kenya team. This is a major achievement for me.”
Having emerged from the championship unscathed, Rudisha must now exorcise the ghost that saw him tumble out of the World Championships in Berlin in 2009 when he was boxed out in the semi-finals. Ever since, he has won 19 consecutive races that has seen him crowned the IAAF Athlete of the Year.
“I’m very relaxed. I have only one race in the Diamond League in Monaco and I’m not sure if my manager will organise a second race before Daegu. We have a strong team.
“I intend to work on my programme so I can go to Daegu in great form. I am currently about 90 per cent fit,” he said. Kirwa said he was happy to make the team and knows what it takes to reclaim the gold medal he lost to South African Mbulaini Mulaudzi.
“At the World Championships, it is more about controlling the pace and not running fast.
That is the secret. Now that I’m in the team, it is important to focus on the championships. I’m in good shape to win gold,” said Kirwa, who is also the Olympic bronze medallist.
“I have unfinished business at the World Championships. I must get back my medal and this is the year.”