"Tough Eight-year Journey..": Two-time Gold Medallist On Why Neeraj Chopra Will Find It Tough To Win Defend Olympic Title
Neeraj Chopra is the first Indian to win an Olympic gold medal in athletics
Two-time Olympic Games gold medallist in 800m, Kenya's David Rudisha, is keen to train Indian sprinters and middle-distance runners when he calls time on his illustrious career. The 34-year-old two-time world champion in 800m, who defended his 2012 London Olympics gold in Rio four years later, also said winning back-to-back gold medals at the quadrennial games is not easy but India's ace javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra can achieve the feat if he continues to train the way he was before the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Rudisha, who is reaching the "end of my professional career", added his retirement could open up opportunities for him to coach aspiring runners.
Asked if he would be keen to train Indian sprinters and middle-distance runners after calling time on his professional career, Rudisha, 34, said, "Well, after I am done with some level 1 and 2 coaching programmes, yes I can have a fresh start and that (coaching) could be an option. There are no boundaries for coaches. You are like a teacher and whoever wants to learn is most welcome."
Rudisha, who is here as the brand ambassador of Sunday's Apollo Tyres New Delhi Marathon, is one of the few track athletes to have won back-to-back Olympic gold and says that contrary to belief, it's not an easy task to retain the crown. On whether Chopra will be able to defend his Tokyo crown, Rudisha said, "It's a tough eight-year journey performing in consecutive Olympics. So many new athletes are coming in.
"My experience says it's not easy to defend (gold) and there are no guarantees, given that so many other things like physical fitness, preparation etc too play a major role. But, yes, it's still achievable." The celebrated athlete also indicated he is not happy with the way Kenya's reputation has been tarnished by runners taking the easy route of doping to achieve success.
Three top Kenyan athletes were banned for a collective period of eight years by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for breaking anti-doping rules in December last year, thus adding to the growing list of runners bringing shame to the country.
In fact, the country faces the prospect of being banned by World Athletics because of the dope menace having reached crisis levels.
The soft-spoken Rudisha, belonging to the Masai tribe, used very harsh words to describe how the runners were tarring the country's image.
"Doping is a big problem in our country. It's damaging the sport there. If I am right, Kenya has been topping the (doping) list for 10 years now. Some athletes take shortcuts, which is bad.
"I fail to understand when they have the talent, why do they resort to such practices. They are spoiling the name of the country, and by doing so are robbing those who have worked hard to get there. They are ignorant that they are harming the prospects of their own brothers and sisters."
The AIU had banned marathon runners Alice Jepkemboi Kimutai and Johnstone Kibet Maiyo for three years, and sprinter Mark Otieno for two in December.
Even though Kenya is planning to criminalise doping in athletics, there seems to be little to deter athletes from taking the short cut .