Kenya’s world 800m record holder David Rudisha will only consider himself one of the greatest athletes of all time when he wins the world and Olympics titles over the next two years, his coach said on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old Rudisha, who broke the longstanding 800 metres world record twice this season, became the first Kenyan athlete to be named the IAAF male athlete of the year in Monaco on Sunday.
But as another elaborate home-coming celebration beckoned for the rising star, for the second time, on his return from Monaco on Tuesday, his Irish coach Colm O’Connell warned him that he must keep his feet on the ground ahead of the busy and hectic season ahead.
“Rudisha should realise there is much work to be done and what he has achieved this year is a phase in his career,” 0’Connell said.
“The next two years are very important since we have the World championships and the Olympics coming up and he can only consider himself a great if he adds his name to these categories,” added the 60-year-old Cork-born Patrician brother, who trains Rudisha in Iten, in Western Kenya.
Rudisha first broke the world record in Berlin on August 22 with a time of 1 minute 41.09 seconds before bettering that mark with 1:41.01 in Rieti, Italy, a week later.
Clinched a shock victory
He was also crowned African champion in July in Nairobi and was unbeaten in his 16 races during the outdoor campaign. O’Connell believes Rudisha can break the world record again over the next few years.
Elsewhere, Kenya’s Joseph Ebuya confirmed his role as overwhelming favourite to capture the victory at the 17th ‘Cross Internacional de Soria’ on Sunday (21) in cold conditions with gusts of wind of up to 20 miles per hour.
In doing so, the reigning men’s World Cross Country champion continued his successful roll on European soil this autumn which includes two victories and a runner-up spots to his name so far.
In a lesser quality women’s contest South Africa’s Dina Lebo Phalula - 22nd at the last Worlds in Bydgoszcz - clinched a shock victory ahead of Spain’s reigning European Cross Country silver medallist Rosa Morató.
But also the event’s attention rested on the top Europeans’ performances thinking ahead to the continental championships to be staged in Albufeira, Portugal, in three week’s time.
In that respect, Spain’s Ayad Lamdassem and Jesús España on the men’s section plus Morató and Portugal’s Ana Dias catapulted themselves into one of the favourite spots as all of them performed superbly in Soria.
Ebuya and Kisorio celebrate a Kenyan party - Men’s race
The men’s 10,000m competition provided a fantastic spectacle with all the necessary ingredients to make the crowd enjoy: a reigning World champion and an array of top Spaniards in form fighting for a place on the podium.
The early stages witnessed the early lead of Italy’s former European junior XC champion Andrea Lalli but before the second kilometre Ebuya decided to step up the pace.
With eight minutes on the clock only the Eritrean pair of Tesfayohannes Mesfin and Kiflon Sium, Lamdassem and Mathew Kisorio – a creditable sixth at the 2009 World Cross Country championships in Amman in 2009 – remained in close attendance to Ebuya. (AFP)