NAIROBI, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- The man Kenyans and any other track enthusiast would have loved to see competing in the race for the Doha 2019 IAAF World Championships tickets in Nairobi last week was instead watching action unfold alongside cheering supporters from the stands.
The imposing figure of David Rudisha has been the dominant force in 800m running since he burst through to the international scene with a victory at the Beijing 2006 IAAF World Junior (now World Under-20) Championships in China where his fluid running saw him nicknamed Pride of Africa.
However, for the second successive edition of the senior Worlds, Rudisha will be watching the 17th edition of the biannual track and field showpiece from home after injury ruled him out of the Qatar championship.
The nightmare for the Daegu 2011 and Beijing 2015 800m champion started on the eve of Team Kenya's departure for London 2017 when he pulled up and collapsed into a heap in what was his final track session.
Visits to doctors outside Kenya diagnosed his problem as a quad muscle tear that was compounded by back problems which in short, meant his legs do no longer respond to his powerful running engine since every time he engages the high gear, the ensuing pain grounds him to a halt. He has not raced since July 4, 2017.
On August 25, a nation in shock awoke to the news that the two-time Olympic and world record holder had escaped his life when his SUV crashed with a bus in the wee hours of the morning, totaling the vehicle in a bad accident where he and everyone else admitted he was lucky to be alive.
On September 13 at the refurbished Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, the venue where he famously ran the fastest time ever at high altitude in 800m of 1:42.12 during the London 2012 Kenya Olympic Trials, Rudisha, decked in smart casual wear, was among those who watched on as his nation selected their flag bearers for Doha 2019.
After the final race on the track, incidentally his two-lap speciality, the Olympic champion came down to the assembled local and international journalists to declare that contrary to widespread reports, the 'King of 800m' is not ready to relinquish his throne yet despite the injury and personal setbacks.
The man responsible for the race hailed as 'The Greatest 800 Meter Race Ever' when he set the 1:40.91 world record at the London 2012 Olympics final is now focused on making his big comeback at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
"I'm looking forward; I had some problem with injury for the last two years. Now I'm starting to prepare myself from now onwards for the next season. I'm targeting Tokyo Olympics in 2020. That is one of my big aims right now," the World Athlete of the Year in 2010 declared.
Rudisha, who hails from the warrior Maasai tribe in Kenya, is known for his steely determination following a career limited by injury.
But as he plots his next comeback, even a man of his immense talent realizes at 30 years of age, he may not return with the same explosive power that conquered 800 meters.
"It's tough, I know because coming back from an injury is not always easy but I'm going to give my best and whichever performance comes, I will be happy about it as long as I give my best," said the man who set two world records in 2010 before his crowning performance in 2012 admitted.
Winning a third Olympics title following his London 2012 and Rio 2016 successes would not only seal one of the greatest sporting comebacks in history but also enrich the legend of the Kenyan who has had tough luck with injuries.
Rudisha was forced out of the Beijing 2008 Olympics as well as the Moscow 2013, London 2017 and now, Doha 2019 World Championships by injury.
"There is always no limit. Everyone is striving to move one step after the other. There is no offense in trying and I also want to try and believe and hope that all will go well for me."