Kenya’s David Lekuta Rudisha set a new world record of 1:41.09 in the 800m on Sunday at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium to produce the stand-out performance of the World Challenge meet.
His time shaved two hundredths of a second off the previous best mark set by Denmark’s Kenyan-born Wilson Kipketer in August 1997.
The 21-year-old African record holder and former world junior champion over the same distance in 2006, was led through the first 400m by pacesetter Sammy Tangui in 48.65 seconds.
Rudisha then managed to keep up his pace through to the line to break Kipketer’s long-standing record, something he had recently been threatening to do.
“This was my first real attempt to break the world record, I knew I was good, I had trained hard,” the soft-spoken Kenyan said.
“Now that I have run that time, I can say I have the ability to improve and go faster. I am very happy, it feels great to have the world record,” he said.
Having only reached the 800m semi-finals at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin last August, Rudisha said he came to the German capital with something to prove and wanted to make up for last year’s disappointment.
“Last year, I had a bad time in Berlin,” he said. “So I did not want to talk too much about the world record before the race. I knew it was my day, the weather was good. I told my pacemaker to run the first lap under 49 seconds. He did a great job, but in the last 200m I had to push really hard. But when I saw the clock at the end, it was amazing, a fantastic feeling. I am very happy to be the fastest 800m runner in the world. Running is like a profession to me, so this means everything.”
Rudisha has been in great form all season competing in Europe. In Oslo’s Diamond League meeting in June, he broke Sebastian Coe’s 31-year-old meet record with a run of 1:42.04. Then at a meet in the Belgian city of Heusden-Zolder in July, Rudisha timed 1:41.51, an African record and the fastest time in the world since Kipketer set the previous best 13 years ago.
In the days other events, South Africa’s controversial teenage world champion Caster Semenya won the women’s 800m in 1:59.50, on the same track where she burst onto the world stage last year, as she continues her comeback after being gender tested by the sports governing body.
Local heroine and European bronze medallist Ariane Friedrich won the women’s high jump with a leap of 1.97m, while German world champion Robert Harting won the discus with a throw of 68.24m.
World and Olympic champion Steven Hooker of Australia failed to register a height in the men’s pole vault — for the fourth time this season.
Ethiopia’s Tariku Bekele won the men’s 3000m in a world leading time of 7:28.99 and admitted he had only planned to help Bernard Lagat break the US national record.
There was disappointment for the US’ Lolo Jones in the 100m hurdles as the world indoor champion finished sixth behind winner Priscilla Lopes-Schliep of Canada who ran 12.57 seconds.
Jamaicans dominated the sprints as Nesta Carter won the men’s 100m in 9.96 seconds, while Sherone Simpson won the women’s in 11.09 seconds.
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