There was a near-stampede on Thursday afternoon as the world’s media trooped in droves into the Daeduk Cultural Centre in downtown Daegu for a much-anticipated press conference.
Yes, you guessed right, Jamaica’s multiple sprints world record holder Usain Bolt was in focus.
For the umpteenth time. Across town, at the Daegu Stadium Museum, another big track name was addressing journalists, but there were quite a number of empty seats in the auditorium.
Right, the latter was IAAF World Athlete of the Year, David Lekuta Rudisha, fielding questions from the media at a press conference organised by the Kilgoris 800 metres world record holder’s kit sponsors, Adidas.
Which, naturally, led me to asking the 22-year-old Maasai moran: “There is all this attention, all over, on Usain Bolt, and yet you, the world’s best athlete currently, can still walk around town relatively comfortably with no cameras, notebooks and microphones in tow – do you feel that you deserve more or as much attention as Bolt? Do you feel you need to do something more to prove to the world that there more to athletics than Usain Bolt?
“That’s a tough question,” was his reply. The son of the 1968 Olympic relay silver medallist, Daniel Rudisha, was humble and guarded as usual in his response.
“Bolt is a great athlete and he’s done great, winning the Olympic titles in Beijing and breaking world records and winning again at the Berlin World Championships where he again broke world records.
“He is a great athlete, and has done great for the sport, but everyone has his own talent,” Rudisha added modestly .
The Kenyan star – coming into these championships with a world record time of 1:41.01 and a season’s best 1:42.61 - is very much unruffled living in the shadows of Bolt here, but quietly confident that what the Jamaican can do, he can also do in his own way.
“I’m a little bit famous and there are other runners who would also like to be like me. We cannot all be at the same level, but there are one or two things I want to do and maybe change things a little bit.”
Change things a little bit? That’s Rudisha’s way of hinting at something big about to explode.
Last year at the African Athletics Championships in Nairobi, he said the world record was not on his mind, only to blow into smithereens – not once, but twice, inside a week - what was regarded an impossible record to break, Kenyan-Dane Wilson Kipketer’s “miracle” 1:41.11 that had stood for 13 years!
On his way to greatness, Rudisha is chasing three main achievements – to break the 800m world record, which he already did, win the 800m world title, which he is about to, and be the 800m Olympic champion, which he hopes to realise in London in a year’s time.
Round one of the 800m will be run at 12.05pm on Saturday, with Kenya also represented by 2007 world champion Alfred Kirwa Yego and dark horse Jackson Kivuva.