David Rudisha was hailed as one of the greatest-ever runners last night after smashing the world 800m record, saying afterwards that he had wanted to make Sebastian Coe proud.
His time of 1:40.91 was the first track world record set inside the Olympic Stadium, beating the record he had himself set two years ago by a tenth of a second. He has now run the three fastest times on record for the 800m.
The contest was one of the best races of the London Games so far, with even the last-placed athlete, Briton Andrew Osagie, setting a personal best of 1:43.77 and a record for the eighth-placed runner in an 800m final. Nijel Amos of Botswana took silver, winning his country's first ever Olympic medal. Bronze went to 17-year-old Kenyan Timothy Kitum.
Former 800m and 1,500m runner Steve Cram said of the run: "Simply unbelievable! That's the greatest 800m race anyone has ever run, or that I have ever seen. What a privilege to be here."
It was fitting that the man many see as one of the best middle-distance runners ever broke the world record at the Games organised by Lord Coe, a former 800m Olympic gold medallist and world record holder.
Rudisha dedicated his victory to his friends, including Lord Coe, and revealed that six months ago the Locog chairman gave him a tour of the Olympic Stadium. The Kenyan said after clinching gold: "I wanted to come here and make him proud."
Still trying to catch his breath, the runner said he had been so confident about winning that his focus had been partly on setting a new world record. "This is the moment I have been waiting for, for a very long time," he said.
Rudisha is a Maasi and his father, Daniel, won silver in the 4x400m relay in the 1968 Games in Mexico City.