It was a track version of beauty and the beast, David Rudisha, whose long, languid running was chased down by the more ragged, flailing style of Nijel Amos in the Commonwealth Games 800 metres final.
The king was felled, the young pretender having got the better of him for the third time this year – and when it mattered, with gold at stake.
Rudisha is confident he will find himself in his more familiar position out front across the line at Sunday’s Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix, albeit over the rather novel and unfamiliar territory of 600m.
In his sights is American Johnny Gray’s 28-year-old world record of 1min 12.81sec for the distance, eminently achievable for Rudisha. After a season of uncertainty with the remnants of the knee injury that effectively erased his 2013 campaign, he is unsure, though, whether he can do it.
“I am looking for a fast 600m but it’s difficult to say what I am going to do,” he said. The target is to achieve the first 200m in 23 seconds, his second in 23.8 before going hell for leather in the home straight. “I am thinking and planning it will be around 1.12.”
The record has given Rudisha a focus after Glasgow. He would never make a strong poker player. While he smiled as he joined Amos on a lap of honour, his eyes could not disguise the pain of defeat.
Of the Commonwealths he said: “I was expecting to win but it wasn’t my day. But Amos looks good and he finishes strongly. I was a bit disappointed because the weather wasn’t so great and cold weather sometimes gives me problems. All in all, though, I am happy to [have won] silver and it’s not bad for me.
“I would have been happy to win gold but the silver medal is what I struggled for and I don’t have any other medal from the Commonwealth Games and I have to try to stay positive and learn from there.”
Glasgow gave an insight into a potential rivalry for the ages between Rudisha and Amos. The pair look destined to slug it out at every major championships for the foreseeable future. With it, Rudisha’s 800m record set at London 2012 of 1:40.91 looks likely to come under increasing threat and the Kenyan believes he is the man to break it.
“We are looking to the coming years and probably see if we can bring that world record down,” he says. “But the world record is quite a tough thing to go for. It needs preparation, proper training and faster conditions. Everything has to be in place.”
Another showdown – harder to achieve but often suggested – is one between Rudisha and Usain Bolt, the two great runners of their generation.
“There has been a lot of talk about that,” said Rudisha. “But I don’t think it is going to be easy to happen.”
Tickets for the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix and Sainsbury’s IPC Grand Prix Final are available at www.britishathletics.org.ukReuse content