Opinion: Why The 2012 Olympic Men’s 800m Final Is The Greatest Moment of Athletics within the Last Decade
The 2012 Olympic Men’s 800m final is considered one of the greatest athletic moments of this past decade. This is because the race resulted in David Rudisha setting a world record, racing to a time of 1:40.91 for 800 meters (0.5 miles). The race was the fastest 800m heat ever run, with every single runner setting a personal best and seven out of the eight competitors breaking the Olympic record. The race was also notorious for the dual fourth and fifth place finishes of Americans Daune Solomon and Nick Symmonds running 1:42.82 and 1:42.95 respectively.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest Olympic races of all time, the race unfolded with Rudisha as the front runner, leading from the gun and setting a harsh world record pace. Rudisha reached 400 meters at a blistering time of 49.28 seconds, a world record pace. Through 600 meters, Rudisha still led with 1:14.30. Rudisha ran the entire race all out from the front without even looking back, widely considered one of the hardest ways to race the 800 meters on the track. While most professional runners would prefer to sit and chase the leader, making their move towards the end of the race, Rudisha put it all on the line, determined to stick to his world record pace.
Rudisha succeeded, stomping through the finish and setting a world record in London, with a final time of 1:40.92. In the dying seconds of the race, United States professional runner Nick Symmonds went from last place to fifth, nabbing several other runners at the line to run a lifetime personal record of 1:42.95. The top five runner’s finishing times are among the ranks of 1st-35th of the fastest half miles ever run, per the record keeping of World Athletics.
In the article “Rudisha’s 800m world record in London voted athletics moment of the decade”, uploaded to WorldAthletics.com during December 2019, Rudisha’s record is discussed, and commentary is provided from his Kenyan teammate Timothy Kitum, who stated Rudisha spoke to him before the race, saying “Don’t follow me or you’ll die towards the end. Go for the silver.” Another article, titled “London 2012: Spectacular 800m // Rudisha lights up London with a world record. And more 800m thoughts”, written by ‘Ross’, uploaded to Sportsscience.com in August 2012, discusses the science and strategy of Rudisha’s gold medal win. In the article, Ross writes “The biggest question was perhaps around the tactics he would employ in the Olympic final. Front-running is the logical choice to most, because when you’re about two seconds faster than the next fastest guy, you would want the pace to be beyond them.” Finally, in an article titled “A Look Back at Duane Solomon’s Career as the 1:42 Man Has Hung Up His Spikes”, written by Jonathon Gault and uploaded to Letsrun.com, Gault reflects on the 2012 Olympic 800m final, discussing American Daune Solomon’s fourth place finish. Gault writes “Solomon ran 1:42.82 in the final to again defeat Symmonds, and finish fourth behind David Rudisha‘s mesmerizing 1:40.92 world record. It remains the fastest time ever not to win a medal at the Olympics; in fact, it is the fastest 4th-place time in any 800 race in history.” This yet again further commentates on the impressiveness of those mystical two minutes on that hot August night in London. This quote hammers home the impressiveness of the field of the race.
My opinion on the matter is that everyone commenting on this event hits the nail on the head with how truly spectacular it was. From my perspective, this 800m race is perhaps the greatest moment in sports within the last 20 years All of these men came from various corners of the world and came together for the absolute peak of their athletic careers; two minutes etched into the history book where a world and Olympic record was set, as well as various world leads and national records- all within the same race. Discussing this race is enough to send chills down the spine of any Track & Field athlete, as there was quite possibly divine intervention on the track that August evening, to propel the eight human beings who competed in the event to such a glorious standard, further increasing the boundaries of man and pushing the limits of the feats a human can perform.