Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich today has the chance to put the bitter memories of Moscow behind him and become Kenya’s new 800m king.
Rotich will line-up alongside World Record holder and London Olympic champion David Rudisha, who has deservedly held that crown since taking the world title in Daegu in 2011, Alfred Kipketer and five other medal hopefuls in the two-lap final of the World Championships in Beijing.
Two years ago in the Russian capital 25-year old Rotich was disqualified for stepping out of lane in the semi-finals but this time, in China, he comfortably overcame the penultimate hurdle on Sunday, controlling the race and easing across the finishing line in a time of 1:44.85.
Kipketer, the 2013 World Youth champion, qualified from the first semi-final, while Rudisha’s noticeable change of tactics in the second – controlling the race but setting a moderate pace – had also been successful with the added bonus of edging his recent nemesis Nijel Amos, the Commonwealth Champion from Botswana, into a comparatively slow third place and thus out of the competition.
With Ethiopia’s defending World Champion Mohammed Oman also ejected – disqualified for illegally impeding an opponent – the chances of Kenyan success has been greatly enhanced. And Rotich, who beat Rudisha in the Athletics Kenya national trials earlier this month, believes the time might be right for him to shine brightest.
“I have to thank god for giving me strength to make the final, which was my expectation,” said Rotich, who was runner-up in his semi-final and also on times overall in qualifying, but by a mere one-hundredth of a second. “My second target, now I’m there, is to make the podium.
“As I came onto the field from the call-up area I saw the previous race finish and noticed that Amos had finished third. “The time was 1:47 which is was not a quick time so I thought I’d be safer setting a faster pace in my race. “I was watching the big screen to see how the race was going behind me all the time.”
Rotich’s shock victory over Rudisha in the trials was the latest set-back for the Olympic Champion, who had been beaten on six straight occasions by Amos since his London triumph.“The victory over him has boosted my confidence and I know now I’m capable of getting into the medal bracket,” continued Rotich.
“I think a gold medal is possible but there are three or four of us who are probably thinking that. “We have to work very hard to make it a 1-2-3 and we will discuss the race beforehand to make the result the best for our country.” “The disqualification in Moscow made me more vigilant with the lanes and if I can get onto the podium to collect a medal here I think it will be possible to forget about Moscow.”
Rotich who runs for Golazo Sports Management and dug deep to win the coveted Team Kenya place at the Trials in Kasarani three weeks ago.