TOKYO, Japan, Aug 5 – Fresh from clinching gold in the 800m at the Tokyo Olympic Games, Emmanuel Korir now has set his sights on his idol David Rudisha’s World Record.
Korir, who handed Kenya its first gold at the ongoing Tokyo Games says his fairy-tale middle-distance success has motivated him to go for the 800m record currently held by Rudisha.
Rudisha is the 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion, two-time World Champion (2011 and 2015), and world record holder in the 800m after setting the mark of 1:40.91 at the London Olympic Games.
“I want to appreciate my coach Paul Ereng for making me successful. He is proud of me and happy, I am now an Olympic Gold medalist like him. I feel I can do something better than this so we will work on something better, maybe a World Record. But for now let us celebrate,” Korir disclosed.
Korir stormed to the men’s 800m final victory when he spearheaded an emphatic Kenyan 1-2 finish in 1:45.06 with the 26-year-old runner, who is also the sixth-fastest 800m runner of all time, powering ahead of teammate Ferguson Rotich who clocked 1:45.23.
Poland’s Patryk Dobek settled for bronze in the race timing 1:45.39. It was a bitter pill for Botswana’s Nijel Amos – the fastest man in the world this year over the distance – who finished eighth in 1:46.41.
“I’m so happy. The 800m gold is big. Never in my wildest imagination had I thought I would get to this level,” he said.
Korir was a 400m athlete who also doubled up as an 800m runner in his formative years.
“Actually, there was no switch as I used to run 800 and later on 400m. And after a full step I decided to focus on the 800m.”
“In 400m I have a time of 44.21 Seconds and my aim was actually to run 43 seconds, maybe next time I will do something better. If you compare me with other athletes, I believe I have the speed but just can’t apply the speed in the 800m because it’s a longer race but if the race is too slow then it becomes an advantage for me to apply speed but it is hard for me to sprint in the last 100 or 200m.”
-Rotich on Kenya’s 800m dominance-
Meanwhile, silver medalist Rotich has warned that other nations are closing in on Kenya’s middle and long distance prowess.
“As a nation we are still strong in 800m but then other countries are coming up well and trying to catch up with us. From the outcome in the final, it meant they are not pushovers. They are now attacking our stronghold so we have to pull up our socks as Kenyans.”
Rotich observes that many of the foreign nations have invested heavily in in the sport; for instance one coach has five athletes unlike in Kenyan where a coach handles like 100 athletes in championships.
-Alex Isaboke is reporting from Tokyo, Japan