By Tom Hayward
LONDON (Reuters) - Botswana’s Nijel Amos laid down a marker ahead of next month’s world championships by winning a highly-anticipated 800 meters showdown with Kenyan Olympic champion David Rudisha at the Anniversary Games on Saturday.
The unorthodox 21-year-old Amos, who also beat Rudisha in Lausanne this month, clocked a time of 1:44.57 following a strong surge down the home straight. Returning to the Olympic Stadium where he set the world record in 2012 -- described as the greatest 800 meters race ever -- Rudisha, still recovering from injury, finished second in 1:44.67.
“Every race I’m running with him (Rudisha) is a good race,” Amos told reporters. “I used to watch his videos as a youth so it’s a dream come true. “I'm going home now for three weeks of training ahead of the world championships.” Rudisha, 26, was given a rousing reception on the start line but is clearly not back to his stunning best, finishing nearly four seconds off his world record pace. “It's really nice when we are racing with these guys because we have a lot of respect and love competing with each other,” Rudisha said.
“I have a lot of good memories for this track where I set the world record. There's still a few weeks until the world championships. I'm building my mileage and my speed is okay.” Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson left a strong field floundering in her wake as she cantered to victory in the 200 meters in a time of 22.10 -- over two tenths of a second ahead of second-placed Tori Bowie.
Olympic 400 meters champion Sanya Richards-Ross of the United States and Britain’s heptathlon Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill finished sixth and eighth respectively.
Briton Greg Rutherford, who won 2012 Olympic long jump gold on ‘Super Saturday’ alongside Ennis-Hill and Mo Farah, failed to revive memories of his triumph, finishing third behind Marquis Dendy and Zarck Visser.
French Olympic champion and world record holder Renaud Lavillenie won the pole vault, postponed from Friday due to adverse weather conditions, with a superb jump of 6.03 meters. Britain won the men’s 4 x 100 meters relay in a thrilling finish ahead of fast-finishing France before Netherlands Dafne Schippers capped the action winning the 100 meters, setting a new national record in the process.
Jamaican Usain Bolt answered questions about his form and fitness on Friday ahead of the world Championships with a solid but unspectacular season’s best of 9.87 seconds to win the 100 meters. Farah, running after recent doping allegations centered around his coach Alberto Salazar, rekindled memories of his double Olympic triumph in 2012 by clocking 7:34.66, the fastest time of the year, to win the 3,000 meters.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)