Rudisha opens up on personal tragedies, his divorce & battle with alcoholism

Double Olympic Champion David Rudisha has opened up on coping with personal tragedy and battle with divorce and alcohol in his career.

The middle-distance runner has had a challenging past three years that has nearly threatened his illustrious athletics career.

During a candid interview with the BBC, Rudisha vowed he has put all his challenges behind and is firmly focused on a full recovery.

Life for the two-time World Champion took a turn for the worse in 2016 when he divorced his wife Elizabeth Naanyu.

The separation came just months after the couple had welcomed their third child.

A year later in 2017, Rudisha was plagued with injuries that saw him miss several global competitions across a span of two years.

The 800 runner sustained minor injuries in August following an accident in Kijauri, Borabu, Nyamira County.

He was with his brother Shadrick Rudisha on their way to Nairobi to have additional tests done on him when his car collided with a bus heading to Nairobi from Kisii.

Rudisha’s absence in the ongoing IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar was a big blow to Kenya who are world-renowned for their dominance in the middle and long-distance races.

Rudisha is the current world record holder in the 800m.

In the 800m final on Tuesday in Doha, the only Kenyan in the race, Ferguson Rotich managed to scoop the Bronze medal with the gold for the first time in the event going to the USA through Donavan Brazier.

During his absence in the track, Rudisha took to alcohol to try and overcome the myriad of challenges that were heavily stacking up in his life.

“The pressure became too hard. I used to hang out with friends and party a lot,” Rudisha told BBC.

Perhaps the most devastating and recent blow to the athlete came earlier this year in March when he lost his father, Daniel Rudisha, whom he described as his biggest source of inspiration in his career.

The elder Rudisha himself was a stellar athlete who represented Kenya at the highest level internationally.

The late Rudisha represented the country during the 1964 Commonwealth Games in 1964 in Kingston, Jamaica.

In 1968 alongside Hezekiah Nyamao, Charles Asati and the late Naftali Bon, Rudisha won silver in the 4×400 relay.

Daniel Rudisha’s greatest accolade came during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich where he won gold with Charles Asati, Hezekiah Nyamao, Robert Ouko and the late Julius Sang in the relay event.

“He played a big role in my life. He gave me the passion to love the sport and taught me discipline and respect towards fellow athletes,” Rudisha said.

The Olympic champion said his father was his greatest strength and encouraged even when he failed – something which Rudisha says made him be the star he is today.

David Rudisha of Kenya and Blanka Vlasic of Croatia receive the athletes of the year award during the IAAF World Gala at The Sporting Club on November 21, 2010 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
David Rudisha of Kenya and Blanka Vlasic of Croatia receive the athletes of the year award during the IAAF World Gala at The Sporting Club on November 21, 2010 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
Image: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe

Rudisha, 30, has been dubbed the greatest 800-metre athlete of all time.

He smashed the world 800-metre record twice in a span of eight days in 2010.

He bettered Kenyan born Dane Wilson Kipketer’s 13-year record in the two-lap race, posting 1:41.09 in Berlin and a week later in Rieti Italy he clocked 1:41.01.

In the same year, he was as crowned IAAF Athlete of the year for his achievements.

He bagged his first senior world title in 2011 in Daegu South Korea and repeated the feat in 2015 in Beijing, China.

In 2012, he won his first Olympic gold medal. He successfully defended his Olympic title four years later in Rio, Brazil.

Rudisha said he is now firmly focused on the future and has left all his troubles behind as he aims for a hat-trick of gold medals during next year’s Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
by Dennis Tarus, The Star

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