Australian rising star Luke Mathews failed to upstage world record holder David Rudisha in the men’s 800m, but the 20-year-old recorded the mark he needed to earn a place to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the IAAF Melbourne World Challenge on Saturday.
Mathews crossed the line second in a huge personal best time of 1:45.16 to finish behind Rudisha, who won the event in a quality time of 1:44.78,
“I knew it was going to be a pain-train. I just had to get on his heels and hold. Through 500m I wondered, but I held on, held on and held on,” Mathews said.
The crowd made me lift. I’ve run at the World Juniors, a couple of races in Europe, but that was the best atmosphere of my life.
“Going through 600m I thought he was vulnerable. That’s the thing, though, to think that I can pass him is half the challenge.
“I didn’t get there today, and I’m not going to say that I’ll get him straight away in the future, but hopefully it’s there. To get the time done is an absolute relief.”
Rudisha was making his fifth appearance and was grabbing win number five and he was very happy with the challenge from Mathews, although it made the World and Olympic Games champion worked a little harder than he would have wanted in the last 100m.
The Kenyan, who was warmly received by the fans before the race, had also won in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.
Rudisha set the World record of 1:40.91 at the London 2012 Olympic Games and he revealed that plans are well in place to copy those same buildups.
The 27-year-old will now head to the Perth Track Classic on 12 March where he is hoping to build on this winning start.
Rudisha is expected to face another strong lineup of Australians again.