Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha will have gone more than one year between races when he steps on the Hayward Field track at the Pre Classic on May 31. The Kenyan world record holder was blunt in describing being sidelined by a right knee injury.
“The one year has been hell,” Rudisha said, according to Xinhua News Agency.
Rudisha, 25, broke his world record in the 2012 Olympic final, clocking 1 minute, 40.91 seconds in one of the greatest races of all time. His last meet was the adidas Grand Prix in New York on May 25, 2013. He was still in New York when he noticed knee problems while running in Central Park and missed the rest of the season.
Rudisha split time between Kenya and getting his knee checked in Germany last summer. He eventually had surgery in October, but he still felt pain in December, so he went back to Germany for January and February and did not return to training until March.
In his absence, Ethiopian Mohammed Aman won the 2013 World Championship after finishing sixth in the Olympic final. American Nick Symmonds won the world silver medal after taking fifth at the Olympics.
Rudisha was scheduled to return at the Diamond League season opener in Doha, Qatar, on May 9 but withdrew due to left calf pain from his first track workout since the knee injury one week before.
“The [knee] injury has gone,” Rudisha told the IAAF. “The pain has gone. But it is still somewhere in your mind. You are still thinking about it, maybe even waiting if you are going to feel anything. Only for the last three weeks or so was I able to follow a proper training regime. But a track session cannot replace a race. I think I will need at least one or two good races before my mind will be completely free and back to where it was before the injury.”
Rudisha will face Aman but not Symmonds at the Pre Classic. Symmonds is out with a knee injury. American Duane Solomon, who was fourth at the 2012 Olympics, owns the fastest time in the world this year at 1:43.88. Rudisha has bettered that time each of the previous six years and aims to run between 1:43 and 1:44 next week.
“My legs will answer all the critics,” Rudisha said, according to Xinhua.
Rudisha, who is also scheduled for the adidas Grand Prix on June 14, said he hopes to compete in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, in July.
“I’m aware that everybody expects me to continue where I had left — and that’s why I cannot afford to be in a race when I am not ready,” Rudisha told the IAAF. “One thing is certain: I will not change my tactics. I am a front runner and I have always been.”