David Rudisha (Getty)
Rio de Janeiro - Kenyan 800m king David
Rudisha hit a career high when he produced a last-lap kick to defend his
Olympic title in style on Monday.
Rudisha, also the world champion and world
record holder, timed a season's best of 1min 42.15sec to become the first man
in 52 years to defend the 800m title.
"Running 1:42, it's just fantastic. I
had no doubts before," said Rudisha after another imperious display.
"It is great to win such a big
competition, my second gold," he said, having warned that he felt his form
was almost hitting that high of his sublime 2010-12 period.
"It's so great. I am so excited. It is
the greatest moment of my career."
Turning to the injury problems that have
bedevilled him in recent seasons, Rudisha said: "It's been very difficult.
"I have stayed focused and positive.
My coach has been great and given me hope."
Algeria's reigning Olympic 1500m champion
Taoufik Makhloufi took silver in a national record of 1:42.61, with American
Clayton Murphy edging French hope Pierre-Ambroise Bosse for bronze (1:42.93).
There was a rip-roaring start to the race
when Rudisha's team-mate Alfred Kipketer shot out to the front, hitting the first
200m in an eye-watering 23.2 seconds.
Rudisha, deprived of his usual gun-to-tape
approach to racing the two-lap race, sat in second as Kipketer hared off like a
2014 world U20 champion Kipketer hit the
bell in 49.23sec, Rudisha moving to his shoulder and eventually into the lead
with 300m to run.
Rudisha's surge took Bosse and Makhloufi
with him, but as the trio entered the home stretch of the Olympic Stadium, it
was clear there would be only one winner.
Rudisha, who produced the run of the London
Games in 2012 to win gold in a world record of 1:40.91, roared through the line
to claim his second Olympic gold, Makhloufi outsprinting Bosse, who eased up
too early to allow Murphy in for an unexpected bronze.
"It gives me great hope for the 1500,
it's like a bonus," said Makhloufi.
"It is the first time to do 800 and
1500 in a big championships. I am so happy to make my country proud.
"I dedicate this to the poor
Murphy was left stunned by his third-placed
showing. The last medal in the men's 800m for the USA came when Johnny Gray won
bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
"I dreamed about winning a medal all
night," he said.
"Now it's happened, I'm wondering if
I'm still asleep."