Olympic champion and world record holder, David Rudisha says the success-starved Indian athletics fraternity lacks an inspirational figure, like cricket has in the form of someone like Sachin Tendulkar.
“India have the potential to produce athletes like Kenya and Jamaica but the problem is lack of inspiration and motivation. Like in cricket you have Sachin Tendulkar, young generation looks up to him,” Rudisha told PTI in an interview.
Besides infrastructure and proper training, the Kenyan said “you need someone whom the Indian athletes can look up to “It is not talent or ability that Indian athletes lack. You need strong sporting culture to produce world-class athletes. Why cricket is so famous in this region because you have inspirational figures. Likewise in Kenya, youth look up to athletes like us. We have produced so many legends in athletics that we always wanted to be like them.”
The London Games 800m world record holder said India athletes needed to change their attitude.
“It’s unfortunate that India have not been able to produce great athletes. They need to change the attitude, see what is the problem, why they are lagging behind. It’s all about training and changing their attitude towards the game because running comes from inside. It’s natural. I believe in producing world-class athletes and, apart from good training, good coaching and infrastructure, you need a strong feeling from inside,” he said.
Rudisha is in the capital as the Event Ambassador of the Delhi Half Marathon 2012.
Rudisha holds six of the eight fastest and half of the twenty fastest times ever recorded in the 800-metres event.
In one of the most celebrated individual track performances of the London Games, Rudisha broke his own previous world record of 1:41.01 when he reached the 800m finish line in 1:40.91s, thus cementing his legendary status in the athletic world.
Rudisha reckoned that it would be “very difficult” to replicate his London feat.
“It is going to be a very difficult task, I guarantee. For that to happen again, it has to include everybody in the race, five people ran under 1:43 and all of us ran under 1:44. I don’t think something like that is going to happen soon. Nothing has ever happened before like that,” he said.
“It was a great race and everybody contributed to that. It was the great performance by me. That was the best moment of my life, going to Olympics for the first time and winning the medal. Before embarking on the journey, only one thing was on my mind that I have to win the race. I broke the world record too, that was great,” said Rudisha, who was born in Kilgoris, Trans Mara District.
At 23, Rudisha has reached the peak by scaling almost everything —— current Olympic and world record holder in 800 metres as well as current World and Olympic Champion in distance running.
And ‘King David’, as he is famously known back home, has no intention to slow down.
“It’s not the end. There are still greater things to achieve in the future. In 2010, I broke two world records within a span of eight days. After that, I wanted to become a world champion and then the Olympic champion. Now that I have achieved everything, I am looking forward to the Rio Olympics.”
“Many great athletes have two Olympics behind them, they have made world records and broke them. I still have the urge to succeed. I want to become double Olympic champion. I think that is the next thing I should go for, be motivated and win more races in future,” he said.
For Rudisha, his father Daniel, who was part of the 1968 Olympics silver winning Kenyan 4X400m relay quartet, still remains a “big inspiration“.
“We crack a lot of jokes together. When I was young, I always wanted to be like him. He used to tell me, if you want to become an athlete you need to go ahead of me, you have to first break my records. Now that I have won an Olympic medal and holds the current world record, he should be proud of me.”
Talking about the season gone by, Rudisha expressed happiness over his performance.
“I gave my best. Every race was important to me. The wonderful moment of this season was my London Olympics win. Just before the race, I had told my manager James during the warm-ups that if I finish first 400m in 49 secs, I can push in the last 400 to finish the race in 1:41mins. But I did not know whether I can set the world record.”
Rudisha belongs to a country that has produced many great athletes, but he still received a huge welcome at Nairobi airport after winning the 2011 IAAF World Championships. A possession of 50 cattle escorted the then new star.
The Kenyan was overwhelmed with this love and respect from his countrymen.
“I’m from the Masai community, which has not produced enough international level athletes. Most of the athletes come from high altitude. So the welcome was very special for me. In our community, 22-year-old men are considered as warriors. So they say that I kill a lion by breaking the world record,” he said.
Rudisha opted to come to the Delhi Half Marathon because he sincerely believed that his visit here could inspire youngsters to strive hard for glory.
“A mass-participation high profile events like this helps generate interest in sport and one just cannot say when a real talent will be found,” he said.