Tuesday, March 2, 2010
David Rudisha - Next Super Star ?
This past weekend was a very busy one, with lots of selection meets for the upcoming World Indoor Championships. But as I was scanning the results there was one result that stood out to me from the others - from an outdoor meet in Sydney Australia.
In the men's 400 in Sydney the results were actually quite outstanding for this time of year. The winner in a world leading time of 44.86 was Australian Ben Offereins, but what I found exciting was the third place finisher, Kenyan half miler David Rudisha in a very nice 45.50!
Now 45.50 is a very "good" time for the quarter but not quite in the 44 second realm that one would expect for the world's most elite quarter milers. But if you're not a quarter miler by trade it can be quite exciting. For example, if you're a short sprinter like Tyson Gay who ran 45.57 last spring it could signal increased strength and speed endurance. Which is exactly what we saw from Tyson last year as he began the year with a 19.58 200 in May then closed out his season with sprints of 9.71 and 9.69!
Being a half miler by trade, however, for Rudisha it shows just the opposite - a blazing turn of speed! Quite exciting given that Rudisha just moved to the #4 all time position in the 800 last year with his 1:42.01 run in Rieti.
Now, just how fast is fast for a half miler? Well there have been a handful that have been able to cover the distance faster than 45 seconds and run under 1:44 for 800 meters. Those that immediately come to mind are Alberto Juantorena who won Olympic gold over 400 meters at 44.26 and was able to parlay his speed into 1:43.44 for 800. Mark Everett who ran 44.59 and 1:43.20. And James Robinson, who regularly ran 44 second splits on the 4x4 and had a PR of 1:43.92 in the 800 meters.
But if we take a look at the three men ahead of Rudisha on the all time 800 list 45.50 is blazing! Joaquin Cruz, #3 at 1:41.77 had no official marks for 400 meters, running only the longer 1500/mile. Sebastian Coe, #2 all time at 1:41.73, ran 46.87 for 400. And record holder Wilson Kipketer (1:41.11) had a best of 46.85 over 400 meters. Which puts Rudisha over a full second faster over 400 than the best ever 800 meter runners. Now you know why this leaves me drooling - we may finally see someone approach Kipketer's long standing world record!
With their 400 meter speed, Coe and Kipketer were able to take comfortably run blistering first laps of 49/48 seconds on occasion. Rudisha should be able to do the same. At the same time, it shows that he has the leg speed to unleash a withering second lap kick if the pace become too dawdling.
Either way, the prospects for fast times look very bright for Rudisha. I am dying to see how his season goes this year. At only 21 years of age, already one of the best ever, and with a very competitive nature he could become one of those athletes that stands above the crowd and becomes a super star in this sport.