David Leuta Rudisha is the fastest man ever when it comes to the 800-meter race. When he won his gold medal at the London Olympics, he set the world record, running 1:40.91 and it still stands today. He successfully repeated as Olympic champion on Monday night at the Rio Olympics. He ran against fellow Kenyans Alfred Kipketer and Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich.
Rudisha also has running in his family. His father, Daniel, was a silver medalist at the 1968 Mexico City Games as a member of the Kenyan men’s 4x400m team.
Here’s a look at Rudisha’s life and career.
1. Rudisha Feels Like He’s Back in 2012 Form After Recovering From Injuries
After the London Olympics, Rudisha faced a series of injuries. He couldn’t compete in the 2013 IAAF World championships because of his knew injury. He also hasn’t come close to his record-breaking run in London. Before Rio, he came in third at the Kenyan Olympic trials.
However, it’s starting to look like Rudisha is getting back on track at the right time. He cruised through the heats and the semifinals to make it to the Rio final.
“I’m in good form, there’s no doubt about that. I’m finding my last power in finishing, the last 100m,” Rudisha told the Telegraph. “I think I’m in a position to control the end of my races. There’s a lot of pressure coming here as defending champion, as the world record holder and as the world champion – a lot of expectation.”
The 27-year-old added that he thinks he’s in much “better form” compared to last year and feels as good as he did in his best years.
2. He Has Been Married Since 2010 & Faced Affair Rumors in 2014
In 2014, Rudisha was at the center of rumors that he was cheating on Naanyu with Samantha Tangui, the niece of his pacesetter, Sammy Tangui. According to The Nairobian, the affair had been going on for three years. Naanyu told The Nairobian that the rumors were false.
It was also rumored that Rudisha’s injuries in 2014 were due to alleged fights with Naanyu. Rudisha denied those rumors.
“My injuries are genuine from the sport and hard training, I even underwent a keyhole surgery after an ultra-sound scan which revealed that I had an injury deep in the middle of my knee, not that I was hurt in a domestic altercation,” he said.
3. His Trainer, Colm O’Connell, Is an Irish Missionary Who Had No Coaching Background
His former trainer is Colm O’Connell, a 67-year-old missionary who was born in rural Ireland and had no background in coaching or running before he began coaching runners in Kenya. According to a 2012 profile by Australia’s ABC News, O’Connell has trained over 25 world champions, including Rudisha.
“To be an athletics coach would not seem to be a conventional missionary role,” O’Connell told the Financial Times in August 2016. “I saw athletics as a way of connecting with young people. And once you make that connection through sport you can have an impact on their lives because they open up to you. They have a trust in you. They see you as a friend.”
O’Connell told the Financial Times that Rudisha is his greatest athlete. “Any coach would love to have a David Rudisha in their lives, most never do,” he said.
In a 2013 interview with IAAF.org, O’Connell said that he created a “semi-scientific approach” to coaching where he made sure he was aware of an athlete’s personality.
“I still concentrate more on the personality of the athlete instead of following a given programme,” he said. “I have an overall framework in my mind and within this framework I move the pieces around.”
In June 2016, The Irish Times reported that O’Connell and Rudisha have split. O’Connell made it sound like the two had not worked together for some time.
“I have not followed him (Rudisha) closely for a long time and I don’t know whether he has been following our (coaching) programme . . . He has done very, very little training with me this year,” O’Connell said at the Kenyan Olympic trials.
4. Rudisha Called Young Kenyan Athletes Who Use PEDs ‘Fools’
Before the Rio games, the World Anti-Doping Agency turned its attention to Kenya, giving the country multiple opportunities to create a new anti-doping agency. Officials missed a deadline in February and in April to do so, The BBC reported. Although there was a threat to ban Kenyan athletres from the Olympics, that didn’t happen
In an interview with The Guardian in March, Rudisha made it clear where he stands on doping. Rudisha said:
It’s really sad, it’s really unfortunate that this is happening because Kenya previously has a really good reputation. And for many years Kenya has been doing well on the athletics stage, winning championships without this problem. A few years ago this problem has been coming. But it’s really tough. Because these young athletes who are desperate to make money, to win races, they end up being fools and getting into these drugs.
Rudisha told the Guardian that he didn’t think doping was widespread in his home country, but understands that more education is needed to let athletes know about the risks they take by using PEDs.
5. Rudisha Says He’s Never Taken a Sports Supplement in His Life & Eats All-Natural Foods
Rudisha has also said that he’s never taken a sports supplement in his career. He told Vigour Online that he avoids it and he likes to “eat as natural as possible.”
“Sport-science claims are everywhere,” Rudisha said. “It’s funny – people start believing in supplements they never had before and then their bodies sometimes seem to tell them that they need them, but I think a lot of this is in the mind.”
Rudisha also said that some supplements might contained banned substances, which could show up in drug testing.
“We owe it to all the athletes, the sponsors and the fans to have clean and fair competition. The most important thing is to always have respect for all your colleagues,” Rudisha told Vigour. “Just go and work hard and train hard and take what is yours… don’t go and take what is somebody else’s through an unfair advantage.”
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