LONDON – David Rudisha says he is back on track after injuries, partying and a close shave with death in his bid to become the first man to win three successive 800-meter Olympic titles.
The 31-year-old Kenyan’s world record run of 1 minute, 40.91 seconds to win the 800 at the 2012 London Games was hailed as the greatest track performance of those Olympics by many, including global athletics chief Sebastian Coe.
Rudisha returned in Rio de Janeiro to defend his title, but the four years since have been frustrating for him in terms of injuries interrupting his training and he has not run competitively since July 2017.
It has also been upsetting off the track with his father Daniel — a 4×400 relay silver medalist at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics — passing away last year.
The two-time world outdoor champion at 800 also saw his weight balloon as he confessed to looking for “a bit of destruction to distract.”
He was more reserved about how he found that difficult period when he spoke to the BBC in a recent interview.
“Well, I, you know, I have never really directly spoken about partying but, you know, just a social life that everybody has the right to enjoy,” he said.
“Whenever we have a (athletics) meet, sometimes we go to socialize, to go out for instance. That is normal life.
“I never meant anything extreme, because that is not what I do. … Sometimes when you have friends, you go out and throw a party and so forth, and that is actually what I meant.”
Rudisha said returning to training had altered his mindset for the better.
“I am happy,” he said. “I missed the track and I missed training for the past two years.
“Whenever I am out there and training I feel like I am doing what I really truly love, and I am passionate about it.
“If I make the team, go to Tokyo, qualify for the final and be in that final, yes I will say I will be standing there as a potential gold medalist, or medalist in that event.
“But before I get there I cannot start counting things that are not ready yet.”
Rudisha stated that he is fortunate to even be around to have a tilt at making history as his car had a head-on collision with a bus — which was on the wrong side of the road — last year.
His car was written off but he emerged unscathed physically but the mental scars remain.
“Actually I don’t even have words to explain the accident,” he said. “It was really horrific and scary. It was not easy and everybody, every time, kept asking me: ‘How did you even survive? How did you get out of that car?’
“To come out without a single scratch was just like a miracle.”