Rudisha's poor form raises doubt over 800m defence
DAVID Rudisha tore up the tactical script at the London Olympics to smash the world record in one of the greatest-ever 800m runs and emerge as an athletics superstar to rival the sport's biggest names.
For Kenya's "King David" to cement his Olympic legacy by becoming the first man to successfully defend his title since the 1964 Olympics, however, he will need to shake off doubts about his form and mental fortitude after a mediocre season.
He finished third in the Kenyan trials and his Diamond League form has been poor.
His mentor and coach, Brother Colm O'Connell, last month questioned Rudisha's mental toughness and said he had "done very very little training" with him this year.
Few expect Rudisha, who hails from Africa's Maasai tribe, to dent the world record of 1:40.91 set in London, the zenith of his illustrious career.
Yet, it would be foolish to write him off after he snatched his second world title in Beijing last year after a similarly off-colour season.
"I feel that my body is coming back pretty nicely and I am in better form than last year," Rudisha said after the Kenyan trials.
A victory would go a long way towards lifting Kenyan spirits after the African nation's pristine reputation was tarnished by a spate of doping scandals that at one point threatened the country's participation at Rio.
Rudisha's beaming smile and the manner of his 2012 victory catapulted him to global stardom.
"Bolt was good, Rudisha was magnificent," IAAF president Seb Coe said of the stunning 2012 race. All eight runners beat the gold-winning time set at the 2008 Games.