Athletics

Rudisha powers away to claim 800m crown in Beijing

Ethiopa's Genzebe Dibaba celebrates winning gold in the 1,500m final on day four of the IAAF World Championships at the Beijing National Stadium
Picture: PA 
Malcolm McCausland

A CHANGE of tactics saw David Rudisha restore his standing as the top global 800m runner on the fourth day of the World Athletics Championships in Beijing. Hot and sticky conditions in the Bird’s Nest Stadium did not prevent enthralling contests in all five finals contested on Tuesday.

Rudisha enjoyed his return to the top after a long slide down the standings since his gold medal and world record at the London Olympics. He saw the following 2013 season come to a premature ending in May due to injury and although he was back to full fitness last year, he was beaten into second place at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

After defeats in Lausanne and London earlier this year, he suffered the ignominy of being beaten in his own Kenyan trials earlier this month. However, it was a confident Rudisha who struck the front from the gun yesterday and instead of forcing the pace as is his wont, he preferred to control the race.

He passed the bell leading in a modest 54.17 seconds before building up the pace around the third bend. When he kicked with 300m to go, it was sensational as he left the field trailing in his wake. An incredible last 200m in 24.3 seconds assured him of the gold in 1:45.84, .

Earlier, World record holder Genzebe Dibaba had used similar tactics to win the women’s 1,500m distance. The Ethiopian had allowed the USA’s Shannon Rowbury and Jenny Simpson leading the field through the first lap in a pedestrian 77 seconds. The pace dawdled for another 300 metres before Dibaba made her move with two laps to go.

Then she struck the front with a vengeance meaning Simpson, the 2011 World champion, got caught up in the pack and lost one of her shoes. Dibaba covered the next lap in 57.4 but still had company.

She kept her foot on the pedal and although her pace slowed in the closing stages, the penultimate lap had done its damage and she was able to cross the line well clear in 4:08.07. That meant she had covered the last two laps in a breath-taking 1:57.2 – good enough to win the 800m on Saturday.

Kenya added a second gold medal on the day when the unfancied Nicholas Bett wrote his name into the history books with a stunning finish off the final hurdle to triumph in a national record and 2015 world-leading time of 47.79 seconds.

Greg Rutherford lifted Britain’s third gold medal of the championships with an emphatic win in the long jump. It also completed the full collection of medals for him; World, Olympic, European and Commonwealth. Rutherford led from the second round before producing his best effort of 8.41m with his fourth attempt.

The women’s discus was also decided and it did not take Denia Caballero long to clinch Cuba’s first-ever gold medal in the event. She produced a massive 69.28m effort in the first round which stood up for the rest of the competition. Caballero did not stop there and went on to have four of the five farthest throws of the final.

The main protagonists in Sunday’s epic 100m were back on the track again. Both Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin got through their first round heats of the 200m expending the minimum amount of energy. Bolt won his heat in 20.28 while Gatlin was slightly faster with a 20.19 timing.

Ireland have three athletes in action on day five, with North Down’s Ben Reynolds (110m hurdles) and Ciara Everard in action in the early hours of this morning. Ferrybank’s Kelly Proper goes in the heats of the women’s 200m at 12:15 this lunchtime. All three will do well to advance.

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