21 July 2011
The current 800m World Record holder David Rudisha is set to go head-to-head with two-time World Indoor champion Abubaker Kaki at the Aviva London Grand Prix on 5-6 August – with the eagerly anticipated line-up acting as a dress rehearsal of the 800m World Championships final later this summer.
The pair will meet for the first time this year in an all-star encounter at Crystal Palace, also featuring Britain’s European silver medallist Michael Rimmer, Commonwealth champion Boaz Lalang and former European champion Bram Som.
Former World Junior champion Rudisha is considered the finest middle distance runner on the planet and has not been beaten over 400m or 800m since February 2010, with the Masai tribesman last tasting defeat in his favoured 800m at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin, 22 races, and two years, ago.
However, the 22-year-old Kenyan extinguished this disappointment by returning to Berlin and breaking the World Record last August, only to topple it again seven days later in Rieti with a time of 1:41.01.
And with one Samsung Diamond League performance behind him – in Lausanne in June – Rudisha is keen to once again test himself on the world stage and believes a good performance on his debut visit to the UK will set him en route to glory at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu in August.
He said: “I’m looking forward to competing in London, I’ve already competed in one Samsung Diamond League event and it will be good to race in another. I know that the field in London will be really strong and will result in a good race. It’s important to be having these high quality races ahead of the World Championships so it’s a great opportunity for me.
“Lausanne was a good race for me, I know that it will be a similar field in London so I need to try to concentrate on my own race in the way that I did there. I haven’t competed that much this season but my races are going well and I’m confident that I can get a good result in London.
“The World Championships are so close now, so I think it’s important to get good races in while training well and making sure I’m fit and healthy for Daegu.”
The event will provide Rudisha with the opportunity to take aim at the 15-year-old track record of 1:43.25 set by former Olympic champion Vebjorn Rodal.
But first on the agenda for Rudisha is the not-so-easy prospect of seeing off Kaki in a much anticipated battle of the top two middle distance runners in the world.
Rudisha’s two clashes with Kaki last year are considered two of the best ever in the discipline, and despite Rudisha narrowly coming out on top on both occasions, Kaki actually leads 5-3 in their career meetings.
Kaki said: “It will be great to race against David [Rudisha] at the Aviva London Grand Prix. We always have fantastic races and I'm sure this one will be no different. He’s never competed in the UK before so I think he’ll find it very exciting as there’s always a great atmosphere wherever you go. It will be very exciting for the fans as well as I think the race will be very close like they always are.
He really is the man to beat at the moment, but I've had some successes against him in the past so I know how to beat him.
“I love competing in the UK. I’ve had great success here in the past and I in fact won this event last year. The event has come at a great time for my World Championships preparations and I think everyone will see the meet as a fantastic opportunity to get into the perfect shape for Daegu. Hopefully there will be some great performances all round and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
Also on the bill is Lalang, the Kenyan who led a one-two-three at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi last year to secure his first ever major championship title.
And while Lalang admits he is ultimately out to steal Rudisha’s World Record, the 22-year-old would be happy with a good performance in front of a raucous London crowd.
He added: “Racing at the Aviva London Grand Prix will be good for me and my development. We get a really good reception when we go to the UK and hopefully we’ll be able to put on a good race.
“My main aim from London is a good race. That’s all!”
Rudisha and Kaki join an all-star cast of British and international athletes set to head to the Aviva London Grand Prix. Mo Farah (3000m), Asafa Powell (100m), Mark Lewis-Francis (100m), Jenny Meadows (800m), David Oliver (110m hurdles) and Kim Collins (100m) will all be in action at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre on Friday 5 August, while Christine Ohuruogu (400m), Sanya Richards-Ross (400m), Phillips Idowu (triple jump), Felix Sanchez (400m hurdles), Dai Greene (400m hurdles), and Carmelita Jeter (100m, 200m) will take to the track on the sold-out Saturday for the final Aviva Series contest of 2011.
The Aviva London Grand Prix will be at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre on 5-6 August and shown live on BBC2 / BBC HD. For tickets or more information go to uka.org.uk/aviva-series or phone 08000 556 056