David Rudisha is the Usain Bolt of 800-meter dashes, but sharing the 2012 Olympics stage with a track and field legend hasn’t stopped Nick Symmonds from making noise.
After winning their respective heats in Round 1 of the event on Monday, the two runners will face off in the same heat in the semifinals on Tuesday at 2:55 p.m. ET.
Rudisha is the heavy favorite to win the 800—pegged at 1/10 odds to win gold, according to Bovada—while Symmonds was dealt just 33/1 odds. But Las Vegas didn’t stop Symmonds from competing on Monday.
The Team USA star ran the 800 in a time of 1:45.91 seconds—the fifth fastest performance of the morning and only 0.01 seconds behind Rudisha’s time. Of course, hopefully for Symmonds’ sake, he didn’t give 110 percent because Rudisha sure didn’t.
Jeff Zillgitt of The USA Today reported that the Kenyan runner doesn’t plan on recording close to a 1:45 in the final. Rudisha said of an attempt to run a 1:40:
1:40 is too far because now we are still at 1:41. I've been working hard in my training with my coach to see if we can improve my time into 1:40. That's our target. That's what we are looking for. Who knows, maybe before the end of the season, I'm going to try (to) lower it (to) 1:40. But below 1:40 I think is very difficult because I know how 1:41 feels.
Rudisha set the world record at 1:41.01 two summers ago. If he approaches that time again in London, Symmonds doesn’t have a shot to catch him. The American’s personal best in the 800 is over two seconds slower than Rudisha’s—1:43.76.
Symmonds will garner plenty of hype going into the race—he’s a two-time national champ, he’s dating Paris Hilton—but while he’s a talented competitor, he’s no match for the dominant Rudisha.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.