The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Adam Kszczot – A New 800 Challenger

Feb 15th, 2012
5:21 pm PDT

Last week Adam Kszczot (POL) took the indoor world lead in the 800 with a 1:45.44 run in Dusseldorf – fast enough to prompt me to suggest that we get used to spelling his name. Yesterday he dropped his PR, and the world lead, down to 1:44.57 – in the process becoming the 3rd fastest indoor half miler in history! Only Yuriy Borzakovskiy (RUS, 1:44.15) and former outdoor WR holder Wilson Kipketer (DEN, 1:42.67) have run faster indoors.

Combine that with his outdoor best of 1:43.30 from last year, and at 22 years old, the question I now ask is: can he provide WR holder David Rudisha with a challenge come London? I ask this question because Mr. Rudisha has pretty much had his way in this event for the past few seasons. After performing poorly at the World Championships in Berlin (he didn’t make it out of his semi) Rudisha has run roughshod over the world’s 800 meter men. In his penultimate race of ’09 he ran 1:42.01. He went undefeated in 2010, with 3 races under 1:42.00 including WR’s of 1:41.09 and 1:41.01. He won another 10 races in a row (26 straight going back to the end of ’09) including a 1:41.33 SB – finally losing by a hair (.07) in his final race of the season.

During that stretch many, including myself, thought that perhaps Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki would put some pressure on Rudisha. After all Kaki set the World Junior Record of 1:42.69 in 2008, and actually looked primed to become the next dominant half miler until Rudisha’s rise in 2010. Kaki ran well in 2010, setting a new PR of 1:42.23 – losing however to Rudisha’s 1:42.04, and Rudisha controlled the race. Kaki improved his 1500 strength last year, dropping a PR 3:31.76 in Monaco, but again had to yield to Rudisha, as the WR holder easily controlled the World Championships race winning 1:43.91 to 1:44.41 over Kaki – appearing to never leave cruising speed!

So, as we begin the road to London, I’m wondering if perhaps Kszczot will be able to give Rudisha a run for his money. After all, the fun of the Olympics is watching the best of the best go head to head – something we just don’t get enough of in this sport. So when we finally get these matchups, the hope is that we get epic races – not dominating runaways. So I get a bit excited when I see new talent begin to rise up – because that means exciting competition!

A 19 year old Kszczot competed at Worlds in Berlin, placing 6th in his semifinal in 1:46.33 – behind our own Khadevis Robinson’s 1:45.91. Last year at World’s the maturing half miler placed 6th in the final in 1:45.25 – the #2 Pole in the race behind teammate Marcin Lewandowski’s 1:44.80, 4th place finish. Like Rudisha in ’09, however, he came back to run extremely well before ending his season, blazing a 1:43.30 in Rieti behind Rudisha’s 1:41.33 SB. And now we see him become #3 all-time indoors.

It’s a bit early yet to anoint him to the podium. We have yet to see Rudisha run – he usually debuts in Australia late in their summer season. And we have yet to see Kaki perform – his improved strength says that he could turn to speed work and surprise all. However, to be in the conversation indoors with Kipketer and Borzakovskiy, says that one could expect the young man to at least improve his best to the 1:42’s this year – and THAT would put him with the lead dogs in London! In his favor is the fact that Kszczot has improved his PR every year since 2006 – enough on average to possibly run 1:42.50, or better in 2012. That would make him very dangerous in London, which is why he’s very high on my radar right now.

Springtime is almost here, and within a few weeks we’ll start to see what condition the other half milers are in as they begin their outdoor exploits. Right now, they’ll be measured up against Kszczot. Like I said, get used to spelling that name.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply