Michael Saruni generates buzz with 800m world lead

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Michael Saruni is moving up quickly. The 22-year-old is now the fastest man in the world this year over 800m.

The Kenyan raced to 1:43.25 at the Desert Heat classic in Tucson, Arizona, setting a National Collegiate Athletic Association record.

Saruni is touted to be one of the possible heirs to his countryman and two-time 800m Olympic champion David Rudisha.

Over the last four months he has generated quite a buzz, posting some impressive times in 400m, 600m and the 800m.


“Saruni is a very talented young man and I believe he is capable of achieving whatever he puts his mind to,” Paul Ereng, the 800m Olympic champion from Seoul 1988, told the Olympic Channel.


The numbers

Saruni’s NCAA record was even more remarkable as he was alone for almost half the race, speeding away from the field with a brilliant solo run after 450m.

His closest challenger, Carlos Villareal, crossed the line for second in 1:46.70.

Saruni improved his personal best of 1:44.61 by more than a second.

His 1:44.61 had been good enough to make Kenya’s team for the World Championships 2017 in London, but the student at the University of Texas at El Paso was controversially dropped from the squad.

The Athletics Kenya selectors opted for a more experienced runner in place of Saruni.

The sophomore, who turns 23 in June, does not want this to happen again.

Back with a vengeance

Saruni is also highly ranked in the NCCA over 400m. He posted a 45.42, the sixth-fastest 400m time this season, just two weeks ago.

The African began his season in January with an indoor world-best over 600m, showcasing a delightful progress for Ereng.

“This is kind of a quiet year, the only big event is the Collegiate championship in June and we are planning to improve Saruni’s personal bests and his tactics in approaching the races.”

Saruni, who is on this season’s watchlist, is undoubtedly making his way to the big stage in style. Tokyo 2020 is high on his agenda.

“The 2019 and 2020 seasons are what we are trying to aim at and to be in the best shape possible,” said Ereng.

“The 2019 World Championships isn’t that far away and that will be possibly a dress rehearsal for the 2020 Olympic Games.”

And Rudisha?

While Saruni is finding his rhythm, David Rudisha is racing against the clock to regain his full fitness ahead of the Diamond League season.

The world record holder missed the 2017 Worlds with a quad strain. He has been in Europe training as he looks to regain the form that also earned him two world titles.

“In the Diamond League, this is special because I am coming back from injury and long layoff. I need to win to send out a statement,” said Rudisha, the only man to have run the 800m in under 1:41.

“My running weight in Rio de Janeiro was 77kg. Soon I will be there.”

Maintaining the good running posture 👌🏻

A post shared by David Rudisha (@rudisha800m) on

The 29-year-old opens his season in Shanghai on May 12, meeting mostly compatriots.

Saruni will be there with his collegemate Emmanuel Korir, as well as Kipyegon Bett, the world bronze medallist.

A welcome test for both Rudisha and Saruni.

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