Rudisha begins Rio buildup with win in Australia
Olympic champion David Rudisha was pushed by Australian Luke Mathews in his first competitive run of the season in the 800 metres at the IAAF World International Challenge meet in Melbourne on Saturday.
The 27-year-old Kenyan star clocked one minute 44.78 seconds in holding off fast-finishing 20-year-old Mathews (1:45.16) as he began the buildup to his Olympic title defence in Rio de Janeiro in August.
It was Rudisha’s first track race since reclaiming his world title in Beijing in August.
“Coming here I was hoping for something like 1:44, 1:45,” Rudisha said after the race.
“So I was happy to start with that.”
It was Rudisha’s fifth start in Melbourne for five wins, ranging from his meeting record of 1:43.15 in 2010 to his 1:44.94 to start 2015, the year he won his second world title.
Rudisha set an amazing world record of 1:40.91 when winning gold in the London Games in 2012.
The Kenyan has made the Melbourne meeting the regular benchmark of his early-season fitness, kicking off his season in Australia in five of the past seven years.
The Kenyan will now return home to prepare for the Diamond League 800m race in Shanghai on May 14 as he prepares to try to join an exclusive group to have defended Olympic gold medals.
No man has won consecutive Olympic 800m titles since New Zealand’s Peter Snell in 1960 and 1964, while only two others -– Douglas Lowe (1924 and 1928) and Mal Whitfield (1948 and 1952) -– have ever done it.
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