Rudisha call: ‘King’ phones to congratulate the new 800 champion
Emmanuel Korir had barely settled down as the new Olympic 800-meter champion when the former champion, a certain David Rudisha, felt the need to speak to his successor.
Shortly after Korir left the track at the Olympic Stadium after leading a Kenyan brace in the 800 final, a cell phone rang in the pocket of a Kenya team official next to him. The official took out the phone, put it on the speaker and announced, “It’s Rudisha.”
Indeed, the voice of the world record holder and two-time Olympic champion was echoing from Kenya.
“’Ah, that was awesome. You ran a smart race, a smart race. How do you feel?”
Korir was at a loss for words, and for good reason. He had just won Kenya’s fourth consecutive Olympic title in the men’s 800m and had succeeded what they call “the king” at home.
Korir also won Kenya’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, and teammate Ferguson Rotich took silver behind him.
Now, with his country’s flag draped over his shoulders and basking in the glory of his first Olympic gold medal, that made it complete for Korir.
“I’m so happy,” he replied to Rudisha. “I do not know what to say.”
Rudisha, who hasn’t made the Kenya squad this year after a long battle with injuries, laughed on the line and then offered a little advice at the start.
“You’re going to start to feel that weight now,” he said. “It’s good. It’s good. Fantastic. Best wishes. See you when you get home.
And then just like that the king rang and left.
The moment of the roll call was magical.
Korir, 26, had explained moments earlier how he was inspired by Rudisha as a child.
“We used to train with Rudisha when I was still in high school,” Korir said. “I didn’t know that one day I was going to run the 800 meters (at the Olympics). So it’s happened now. Like Rudisha.