LONDON (Reuters) – World 800 meters record holder David Rudisha said on Monday he was saddened and disappointed to have pulled out of the world athletics championships due to a quad muscle strain.
Rudisha, reigning Olympic and world champion, is the first and only person to run under one minute 41 seconds for the 800m. He would have been one of the star names at the Aug. 4-13 global showpiece event in London.
“It is obviously disappointing and I am saddened. It was (during) the time I was actually trying to engage more speed. In the process of doing that, I put my muscle under (more) intense stress than when doing normal mileage. I damaged my quad, and this saddens and disappoints me a lot,” the 28-year-old told Reuters, having announced his withdrawal on Twitter earlier in the day.
Rudisha won his first 800m world title in Daegu in 2011, a year before his world-record performance at the Olympics in the same London Stadium where the world championships are being held.
After suffering the injury, Rudisha said that the severity of the grade one strain was realized only when he went for an MRI scan on Monday.
“We thought it was going to take a few days before recovery. It’s taking longer. We have been trying to do treatment and physio and everything and the problem was still persisting. Today we went for an MRI scan, they found that fluid was coming out of the muscle,” he said.
“So I have been advised that I take it easy. If I push it with that pain, it could damage me further… It is not the right thing to do, or I would run the risk of missing the complete year.”
The announcement of Rudisha’s withdrawal came 24 hours before the first wave of Kenya’s team were due to head to the British capital.
Head coach Julius Kirwa said the development would force a last-minute change in the team’s strategy.
“I am disturbed so much by this last-minute turn of events. I am not settled since learning about this,” Kirwa said.
“It is now my duty to plan and change the strategy, which we will do in consultation with the technical bench.”
Kirwa said the injury would take at least two weeks to heal.
There are four other 800m runners in Kenya’s team — Emmanuel Korir, Michael Saruni, Ferguson Rotich and 19-year-old Kipyegon Bett.
Rudisha, who missed out on the 2013 championships before reclaiming his 800m crown two years ago in Beijing, said he aimed to be back competing for the world title again in 2019.
“I have accepted my fate with a very heavy heart and would like to wish the team well. They can still make it,” he said.
“I will still come back stronger and even challenge for the title in the next world championships.”
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge and Isaack Omulo; Editing by Ed Osmond and Clare Fallon)