Glasgow Grand Prix 2014: David Rudisha returning to top form for Commonwealth Games
Kenyan Olympic 800m winner says he’s still only 90 per cent post-injury
Saturday 12 July 2014
It is two years since David Rudisha graced British shores but the outcome this time was equally predictable. The fact that he was two-and-a-half seconds off the world record he set at London 2012 was simply immaterial, his closest rival as he decimated the field at the Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix, Andre Olivier, trailed in another two-and-a-half seconds back.
For his rivals, among them the British duo Michael Rimmer and Mukhtar Mohammed, it must be particularly galling that the Kenyan makes running the 800m look so effortless even at what he described as 90 per cent of his best.
The journey since London 2012 has been far from that, knee surgery writing off his entire 2013 and there are signs that the athlete that produced the stand-out performance inside the Olympic Stadium is reemerging.
His return to form and fitness is a major fillip to Commonwealth Games organisers. Glasgow 2014 is already missing Yohan Blake while Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, with injury problems of their own, will only grace Hampden Park in the relays. With Mo Farah also a doubt after a recent illness, officials may be tempted to wrap Rudisha in cotton wool for the next two weeks to ensure he comes to no harm.
His time of 1min 43.35sec ranked him No 1 in the world, a result he later said was “what I was expecting to do”.
Before the race, he said that getting close to his world record was a mission impossible at this Diamond League meeting. Come the Commonwealth Games, that target will remain a pipe dream.
“We still have a lot to do,” he said. “I started training very late this year and it’s going to take time. But I’m just expecting this year to do 1:42 before I close the season. That would be a great achievement. Of course I didn’t have a lot of power today but I think with another good few weeks of training I’ll get there.”
Greg Rutherford, the Olympic long jump champion, had been due to compete at Hampden Park but a nerve twinge in the back of his knee during his warm-up caused him to pull out at the last minute.
However, he insisted there were no question marks about his eligibility to go for gold at the Commonwealth Games describing it as “merely a precaution”. He added: “I hope to make up for it in two weeks at the Commonwealth Games. I’ll be ready to go.”
Yohan Blake’s injury, sustained when competing in the 100m on Friday night, is not as bad as first feared, the Jamaican suffering a grade one strain to his left hamstring. It is a major blow to organisers of the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games in London next weekend with Blake being told to take three weeks’ rest to allow the injury to mend.
The sprint star in Glasgow could well be Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye, who runs in bright yellow socks with the words “Flamin’ Hot” on them because, as she says, “I’m flamin’ hot”, her body covered also in 12 tattoos, the most noticeable on her left arm inked with the words “cry now, laugh later”.
Ahye very much had the last laugh as a world-class field including Fraser-Pryce, still some way off her peak following a leg problem, trailed in behind.
With Richard Thompson in good form in 2014, Ahye believes the Caribbean nation can dare to dream of a Commonwealth double.
Looking ahead to the Games, she said: “I’ve got a lot of confidence – a thousand plus,” joking she would celebrate victory by taking a selfie with the Queen. Ahye added: “It’s shocking the kind of potential I have.”
Of the British athletes in action, there was a win for Britain’s line-up of Richard Kilty, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, James Ellington and Danny Talbot in the 4x100m relay while Matt Hudson-Smith, until the winter a 200m runner, took a second off his personal best to finish third in the 400m, the second quickest time in Europe, which will mark him out as a truly realistic gold medal prospect at the European Championships next month.
Jodie Williams also set a personal best in the 200m, her time of 22.60sec the fastest by a British athlete for eight years and putting her fourth quickest on the UK all-time list.
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