NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya’s Olympic 800 meters champion David Rudisha suffered his first loss on home soil as a senior runner, but his second place at the Kenyan trials on Saturday was enough to make the team for the world championships in Beijing this month.
Rudisha, the world record holder over 800m, was powered past at the 600m mark by 25-year-old Ferguson Rotich, a late comer to the sport, who only started training seriously in 2013.
“I am shocked by the defeat but I am happy to have made the team,” said Rudisha, who put the loss down to a lack of fitness.
Rotich’s race-winning time of 1:43.60 was close to his personal best, but some way off Rudisha’s 1:40.91 world record, set at the 2012 London Olympics.
Rudisha, 26, won the 800m world title Daegu in 2011 but missed the 2013 Moscow world championships due to injury.
“I have not done enough speed work, though I am 90 percent fit with no injury at the moment. I have three weeks to fix it,” Rudisha told reporters in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
Basking in the adulation of the crowd who had grown accustomed to “King David” trouncing the opposition, Rotich said: “I am happy to make the team for Beijing. Beating Rudisha is a plus for me.”
The other major shock of the day involved Kenya’s Olympic and world steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi, who finished fourth but will make the Beijing team by virtue of being the defending champion.
Kemboi ended behind Jairus Birech, who won in 8:19.55 ahead of world silver medalist Conseslus Kipruto (8:22.95) and former world and Olympic champion Brimin Kipruto (8:22.95).
“I am not disappointed at all. I think we have a very strong team that can sweep all the medals in Beijing,” said Kemboi, who will be bidding for his fourth world title.
World 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop and women’s 800m world title holder Eunice Sum, easily won their events to earn world championships places, as did Commonwealth champion and Kenya’s best known Javelin thrower Julius Yego.
Kiprop, who came close to breaking the world record in Monaco in July when he stopped the clock in 3:26.69, won the 1,500m race in 3:34.03, while Silas Kiplagat was second in 3:34.44 and Elijah Manangoi third in 3:34.46.
In the women’s 800m, Sum, still unbeaten this season, clocked 1:59.46 to pip the 2007 world champion Janeth Jepksogei.
Yego, who used Youtube to teach himself to throw javelin, won in 83.10m ahead of Alex Kiprotich (71.50m) and Nelson Yegon (70.34m) in the men’s Javelin.
Writing by Drazen Jorgic; editing by Toby Davis