When many were hoping that Usain Bolt would set such a mark in the 200 later Thursday, the Kenyan stole some of the Jamaican sprinter's thunder at the beginning of a balmy evening suited for setting great times.
Rudisha set off with his giant strides from the starting gun, immediately took the lead and steadily built on it, as many of the year's greatest middle distance runners could never even get close.
He finished in 1 minute 40.91 seconds, shaving .10 of a second off the mark he set in 2010.
Immediately, he lifted his arms in victory as the time flashed just next to him and the 80,000-capacity crowds at the Olympic Stadium erupted in wild cheers, celebrating the first world record of the track and field program. In the stands chief Olympic organizer Seb Coe and IAAF President Lamine Diack were shaking hands to celebrate the success.
In the race there were three national records (including Rudisha's ), four personal bests and one season best.
Two of the personal bests were from Americans Duane Solomon (fourth, 1:42.82) and Nick Symmonds (fifth, 1:42.95).
"I expected 1:43 to medal," Solomon said. "Man, it's crazy that 1:40 won the race and there were two 1:42s that didn't even medal which is unheard of. That just shows you the talent that we have and a great field. I guess Rudisha showed that he's on another level. He's the best in the world for sure."
Closing in on an Olympic medal three years after being forced to undergo gender tests, Caster Semenya of South Africa won her 800-meter semifinal heat in 1:57.67 seconds on Thursday night.
The final is Saturday and also will include defending champion Pamela Jelimo of Kenya, who won her semifinal.
Semenya is making her Olympic debut. She was sidelined for nearly a year while track and field's governing body decided whether to allow her to compete after she won the 2009 world title at age 18. She was tested and eventually cleared to return to action in 2010, then was the runner-up at last year's world championships.
Semenya carried South Africa's flag at the opening ceremony in London and is a leading medal contender in the 800.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
3:27 PM dhm