RUDISHA FINALLY READY FOR COMEBACK AT PRE CLASSIC
By David Monti, @d9monti
EUGENE (30-May) -- It was here in Track Town USA one year ago that Olympic champion and world record holder David Rudisha of Kenya first learned that his breathtaking ascent to the top of athletics had hit an unwanted pause. Rudisha, 25, a Kenyan 800-meter specialist, felt that something wasn't right with his right knee which had been bothering him since the adidas Grand Prix in New York City six days before.
"You know, after New York last year I started feeling some pain in my knee," Rudisha told reporters here today. "It was like something touching. Well, I continued with my training because I was preparing to come to Pre. But, while I was here I felt like this is not going to happen. The pain was increasing every time I go out training."
The initial diagnosis was a bone bruise. But after going to Tübingen, Germany, where his Australian manager, James Templeton, has his summer base, he found out that the problem was more complicated.
"They run a lot of tests and the bone bruise was still there," Rudisha recounted. "But, the bone bruise was the secondary problem. The primary problem was the ligaments around the knee were weak, making the knee to play a lot and causing the bone bruise."
Rudisha had to stop running. Under Templeton's guidance, they saw several doctors and concluded that rest and physical therapy would be the primary treatment. Rudisha's knee would need to be strengthened to protect him from future problems.
"He needed to build up strength and stability in the knee, build up the muscle," explained Templeton, who kept Rudisha in Germany at the beginning of this year where he could get therapy. "So, he stayed in Germany for six or seven weeks to do a good period of training in the gym, supervised training in the gym with the physios there to build up strength and stability."
Rehabilitation is a difficult process for any athlete. Instead of the glory of competition, there are hours of grinding repetitions in a gym, with no audience or applause. Rudisha felt down, but said the people around him provided great support.
"Actually, it's really tough," he said. "When we are out there and not doing training and we are not competing, it's really very tough. It's hard physically and mentally. I'm happy because I have really good people supporting me, my coach my family. We are really close. They encouraged me."
In tomorrow's race, Rudisha will face a stacked field, including Mohamed Aman of Ethiopia, the reigning world champion; Duane Solomon of the USA, the current world leader; and Nijel Amos of Botswana, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist. While Rudisha was looking for a somewhat softer race to begin his comeback (he scratched from Doha Diamond League meeting on May 9th with a calf strain), he said he's completely ready for tomorrow's race.
"Yeah, I know there is a lot of expectations for me coming back," he said, picking his worlds carefully. "Training has been good. I'm confident. I told even my coach, I think it is just good to start here because I've been doing really good and solid training. I don't feel there is any problem starting here. I'm confident I'm going to run well tomorrow."
After tomorrow's meet, Rudisha will focus on preparing for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland at the end of July. It's the only major championships from which he doesn't have a medal (he's already been African, Olympic, world and world junior champion). He'll begin those preparations in Germany where he'll train until the adidas Grand Prix in New York on June 14. According to Templeton, Rudisha had started to enjoy Tübingen.
"He's fairly relaxed," Templeton observed. "We watched a lot of football."