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David Rudisha: On divorce, kukata maji and why coronavirus might spike his dreams

He blamed his poor performance to visits his wife made to Nigeria ‘to tame him


Photo finish: David Rudisha was accused by his wife of ‘bending the petticoat’ of Samantha Tangui (above) and the divorced that followed took a toll on him.

By Idris ‘Shoes’ Lule

Contributing Editor/Sports

David Rudisha, the track icon, has been fighting many battles: a divorce, death of his father, tendon injuries, over drinking. His face appears like he’s recovering from bee stings. It is the added weight, 12 kilos to be precise, but he’s cutting them down.

Then there was nasty road accident, head on collision with a bus at night in Kilgoris six months ago. His car was a write-off and “to come out without a single scratch was just like a miracle. I feel like God still loves me.”   

His name means “come back” and he could be the ‘comeback kid’ during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan this July, give or take the vagaries of coronavirus.

Looking back though, few blows came knocking for the now 31 year old police inspector than divorcing from Elizabeth Naanyu in 2016, a month after the birth of their third child. Rudisha blamed his poor performance to visits Liz made to Nigeria “to tame him” but it was later revealed she had sought prayers from Pastor TB Joshua.  

Rudisha could hear none of it. Domestic fights ensued. More injuries. Matters came to a head when it emerged he could have been ‘bending the petticoat’ of Samantha Tungoi, niece of his long-term pacesetter, Sammy Tangui.

Last lap: Elizabeth Naanyu, wife of two-time Olympic champion David Rudisha called it quits. That, coupled with injuries, drinking and death of his father has seen him out of competition since 2017.

Naanyu, the woman he married in a traditional Maasai wedding in 2010, even confronted her on the streets of Eldoret over the same. Naanyu took to her social media pages and wrote: “David Lekuta Rudisha stop frustrating me with my kids.  To my family, my heart is heavy I can’t hold anymore. I love u all.”

The marriage went south, but Rudisha, the two-time Olympic champion in the 800m, now hopes he will make the cut for the Tokyo Games as he has not ran since 2017. A long time for an athlete.

If Rudisha goes  and wins gold in Tokyo, he will be a three-time Olympic champion over the two lap distance, a first in the world and he reckons  “there is something left in the tank and that is what I want to exhaust.”

Rudisha has since lost weight now but the drinking almost got the better of him. It was about the pressure from domestic tiffs and “to release it I’d often hang out with friends, partying too much…during periods like that, you look for a bit of destruction to distract yourself.”

Fatal relay: “To come out without a single scratch was just like a miracle,” said Rudisha of the nasty road accident six months ago. “I feel like God still loves me.”

The death of his father, Daniel Lekuta Rudisha, himself an Olympian, in March 2019 was another blow. “Ever since he died, I find myself going home much less often…and I understand now that he was the reason. I’d talk with him, be with him, learn from him,” he told Spikes magazine last October.

But then his Olympic dreams could be interrupted if coronavirus has an effect on the Tokyo Games scheduled for July this year, as it has had an effect on spectator sports around the world. Though organizers in Japan insist ‘The Games must Go On’. Kenya has preciously boycotted two previous Olympic Games but over  political reasons.

Kenya was among 25 African countries that boycotted the 1976 Montreal Olympics in Canada after the International Olympics Committee refused to ban New Zealand whose rugby team played South African which was then an international pariah over its ignoble Apartheid regime.

The Games Must Go On: Rudisha hopes to be the only athlete to win three Olympic gold medals back-to-back if he wins the 800m gold in Tokyo, but will coronavirus spike his dreams?

Kenya was among 65 countries which also boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics after Soviet Union, the hosts, invaded Afghanistan the previous year. Both boycotts ruined the career of multiple world record holder Henry Rono who retired without an Olympic medal as they happened at the prime of his career.

Coronavirus might ruin the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the career of many athletes. Already, Kenya postponed the Magical Kenya Open golf tournament that was to tee off this March and barred Harambee Stars from travelling for the second leg of Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away to Comoros.

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