Kenyan World 800m record holder David Rudisha is the firm favourite for Thursday's final, and after watching him breeze through his qualifying rounds the question on everyone’s lips is how fast will he go?
He has been modest about his chances of breaking any sort of record at his first Games, more focused on clinching his first Olympic medal.
But when he bumped into Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj,the double 1500m Olympic champion who is one of his heroes after Tuesday's race he opened up.
"I would like to run the Olympic record.I have prepared for this,"he answered when El Guerrouj sought to know his plan for the race.
After his unintended 1:44.35 in his semifinal on the fast Olympic stadium track, he admitted that the final could be notable.
“Depending on the conditions and the form of the field we shall try and run fast race. Winning is my focus and if the Olympic record comes my way then, it will be a bonus,” said the Worlds' fastest man over the two lap race (1:41.01).
More so with such a diverse and competitive field in recent times and an equally fasttrack the 16-year 1:42.58 Olympic record is surely under threat.
The first semifinal saw Mohammed Aman the Ethiopian teenager ran the fastest qualifying times of 1:44.34 as he looks forward to a wrapping his games debut in style.
“I have been training for great championships like the Olympics and I am injury-free and I am feeling great,”Aman said confidently.
"He (Rudisha) is a tough guy but I am ready,” he added on racing on form Rudisha.
In the opening semi Sudanese Abubaker Kaki ran 1:44.51 as he looks to win his country’s third ever-Olympic medal after crushing out in the semi finals in Beijing.
“The final is going to be tough but I am confident, and anything can happen, “Kaki said. Botswana’s Amos Nijel the second fastest man this season (1:43. 11) behind Rudisha, placed second in Kaki’s semi in 1:44.54 after a confident run.
The newly crowned World junior champion too knows the man to beat is the Kenyan champion.
“He is the clear favourite, but I'm in good shape too,”said Nijel confidently. “ I know it's going to be tough, but I'll try my best." Rudisha took note as well.
“He ran very well in the heats and semis and I am looking forward to racing him in the final.”
Timothy Kitum is the other Kenyan who will line up in the men’s 800 final after a tactical error cost Anthony Chemut a dream Olympic final.
“I did a mistake by staying in the inside lane, and I got boxed. I tried to get out but it was too late,”Chemut regreted.
Other qualifiers were the American pair of Solomon Duane and Nick Symonds and home favourite Andrew Osagie.
Going by the fast times that have been posted at this games so far, the London crowd could definitely be wowed by a great 800m run.
The Kenyan captain knows that a win not to mention a record could boost a rather bashed morale for his teammates, country, cowered by rather upsetting results from the track and course after five days of competition.
Jelimo begins a race for Gold number two
On wednesday there will be the women’s 800m qualifying rounds.
Kenyan’s Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo will be looking to become the first woman to win two consecutive gold medals at the Olympics.
After a troubled last season Jelimo slowly regained her shape with an impressive victory at the World Indoor championships that she followed up with a 1:56.76 run last month.
Her only loss this season was in at the Rome Samsung Diamond league to Ethiopian Fantu Megiso, who was ruled out of the Olympics late Monday with a foot injury, a big setback for the team’s medal hopes.
Besides Jelimo Kenya has Cherono Koech making her Olympics debut and the silver medalist in Beijing Janeth Jepkosgei.
Mariya Savinova, boasting of season best of 1:57.42 the world champion from Daegu is also eying the Olympic crown in her first games.
Then there is the new kid on the block, teenager Francine Niyonsaba from Burundi the African champion looking to upstage the seasoned runners in only her third international race.
After victory in Benin, she had a chance to race in the big stage finishing third in 1:58.68 at the Monaco Diamond League and if she can make the final bearing a tidy run in the qualifying rounds she could be one of the contenders for the medals.
Evelyn Watta in London
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