Smooth-striding Rudisha throws down Daegu gauntlet
London: World 800 metres record holder David Rudisha heads to the world championships later this month with a first global track title at his mercy after a smooth victory at the London Diamond League meeting on Friday.
On a warm evening in the British capital, the 22-year-old Kenyan extended his near two-year unbeaten run over two laps by easily holding off Sudan`s twice world indoor champion Abubaker Kaki in what had been billed a mouth-watering head to head.
The graceful Rudisha has not tasted defeat in the 800 since he failed to qualify for the 2009 world championship final in Berlin and will be the man to beat at the global championships in Daegu, South Korea which start on Aug. 27.
He hit the front soon after the first lap and had too much power for Kaki who tried to close in the home straight but was always held, Rudisha clocking one minute 42.91 seconds to Kaki`s 1.43.13.
"It was a very important win today and to beat Kaki is very important as it`s a few weeks before the world championships," Rudisha said.
"I`m feeling in good shape and hopefully after the world championships I`ll think of running something really fast," added the lanky Kenyan, who lowered his own world record to 1.41.01 in Italy last year.
Just as impressive as Rudisha was Grenada teenager Kirani James who could be a huge one-lap star of the future after setting a world leading 400m time this year of 44.61 in his first professional race.
The 18-year-old world junior champion burned around the Crystal Palace track, lowering the previous 2011 best of 44.65 set by compatriot Rondell Bartholomew.
With former world record holder and the fastest man over 100 metres this year Asafa Powell pulling out of the London event earlier on Friday as a precautionary measure because of a recent groin injury, it was left to fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake to show he could feature in the medal shake-up in Korea.
Blake equalled his season`s best to win in 9.95, a time made all the more impressive as it was into a strong headwind. Compatriot Nesta Carter was second in 10.01 and American Michael Rodgers was third in 10.04.
"That was really wonderful to go out there and run 9.95 into a minus headwind, it really shows me where I am right now," Blake said.
The men`s 110 metres hurdles should provide one of the highlights of the worlds with Cuban Dayron Robles striking a psychological blow over rival David Oliver of the United States, the only man to dip under 13 seconds this season, by taking victory.
The world record holder and Olympic champion was quickly out of the blocks and crossed in 13.04, ahead of American Jason Richardson (13.08) and Oliver (13.19), who could not close after falling behind in the early stages.
Robles` and Oliver`s battle with China`s former world and Olympic champion Liu Xiang should provide fireworks in Daegu.
"I feel very good because the time is my best this year," said Robles.
"I feel confident but I need to work harder to win in Daegu. I am working to run under 13 seconds in Daegu -- I think I can do it. I may have won but everyone is coming very fast and they all want to win at the world championships."
American Bianca Knight continued her good Diamond League form this year with a convincing win in the women`s 200 metres.
Knight followed up wins in Rome and Birmingham by clocking 22.69 to ease home ahead of Jamaican Sherone Simpson (22.84) and Shalonda Solomon 22.85, the new U.S. champion at 200.