Rudisha wins Olympic 800 in world record time

Associated Press
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Kenya's David Lekuta Rudisha reacts after winning the men's 800-meter finals in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

LONDON (AP) — David Rudisha did what no one else, Usain Bolt included, has been able to: set a world record on the London Olympic track.

Rudisha had told his rivals in the 800 meters to be ready for a world record, and he delivered on his word, winning Thursday's final in 1 minute, 40.91 seconds, one-tenth of a second off the mark he set in 2010.

After crossing the finish, he flung up both arms to celebrate, then draped himself in a Kenyan flag and posed for photographs near the timing clock with "NEW WR" on it. He has been the dominant 800-meter runner for the last three years, setting the world record three times and losing just once since 2009. This, though, topped all that.

"It's something special to break the world record at the Olympics," Rudisha said.

Sebastian Coe, a middle-distance running great and head of the London organizing committee, wasn't in much doubt.

"That was simply an unbelievable performance," Coe said. "David Rudisha showed supreme physical and mental confidence to run like that in an Olympic final.

"Instead of just doing enough to win the race, he wanted to do something extraordinary and go for the world record as well. Rudisha's run will go down in history as one of the greatest Olympic victories."

The track at Olympic Stadium was considered fast but there were fears that London would produce no world records because of wet, windy and cold weather.

In Beijing four years ago, the Bird's Nest had five world records, including three from Bolt. Yet it is by no means unusual to have a big meet produce none at all, as happened at the world championships in Athens in 1997, Edmonton in 2001 and Osaka in 2005.

Bolt fell short of his own world record in defending his Olympic 200 meters when he eased up in the final strides.

"I know people love Bolt," Rudisha said. "I'm happy for him, and I'm happy for me."

Botswana got its first Olympic medal when 18-year-old Nigel Amos took silver behind Rudisha in a world junior record time of 1:41.73. Timothy Kitum of Kenya got the bronze in 1:42.53.

Americans Duane Solomon and Nick Symmonds finished fourth and fifth, just ahead of 18-year-old Mohamed Aman of Ethiopia, the world indoor champion who handed Rudisha his only loss in three years last September.

Kitum, who finished more than 1 1/2 seconds behind his Kenyan teammate, said Rudisha had predicted a record.

"Yes, he's the greatest runner," Kitum said. "He told me he's going to run a world record today. He's the best."