David Rudisha of Kenya won the men’s 800 metres Olympic title on Thursday in a stunning world record of 1min 40.91sec.

The 23-year-old world champion pulled five metres clear of Nijel Amos of Botswana after taking control of the race from an early stage on a warm night in the Olympic Stadium in east London.

He charged down the home straight as the capacity crowd rose to their feet and crossed the line in a time which shaved a tenth of a second off the world record he set two years ago.

Amos timed 1:41.73 — a world junior record for the 18-year-old — to win Botswana’s first ever Olympic medal in athletics while another Kenyan Timothy Kitum took the bronze in a personal best of 1:42.53.

It was the first world record in an 800m Olympic final since Cuba’s Alberto Juantorena set the mark in the 1976 final.

Rudisha revealed he had visited the Olympic Stadium earlier this year and was shown around by the London Games chief organiser Sebastian Coe, whose world record in the event set in 1981 lasted for 16 years.

“Lord Coe is a very good friend of mine and I was here early in February and he took me round the stadium and I said I would come here and run to make him proud,” said Rudisha.

“To come here and break the world record is something unbelievable. I was well-prepared this year and I had no doubt about winning. But I was waiting for perfect conditions to break the world record because I knew this year I was in the shape to run 1.40.

“But today the weather was beautiful so I decided just to go for it.”

Asked whether he was the greatest 800m runner in history, he said: “Yeah, I’m still running so I believe I’m going to maintain for a couple of years. I want to become a legend in 800.”

He said he would attempt to break the world again this year “I get good weather”.

(This article was published on August 10, 2012)
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