Ridisha is the 6-foot-3 Kenyan world record holder at 800 meters who routinely runs the distance in the 1:41-1:42 range. It is unlikely that world records will be set on the track in London, given the city's cool, wet weather and the reluctance that middle-distance and distance runners have of running from the front and pushing the pace. The one exception is Rudisha. He can run from the front and still win — and run fast. He has run 1:41.54 this year — just off his world record of 1:41.01. At 23, he has six of the 10 fastest times ever.
Pearson, the Australian hurdler, combines 11.14 speed in the 100-meter dash with superb hurdle technique. In the 2011 world championships she ran away from the field, finishing with a time of 12.28, just .07 off the 24-year-old world record. At 5-foot-5, she routinely beats her rivals to the first hurdle and then pulls away, skimming over the hurdles in a frenzied sprint to the finish. She has won 32 of her last 34 races dating back to 2010.
The U.S. is the home of the running boom and Nike and the Boston Marathon and Runner's World Magazine and Bill Bowerman, but you wouldn't know it to watch Americans in the Olympics. Here is a look at their record in the middle-distance and distance events in recent decades:
800 meters — 3 medals since 1972 (all bronze), the last one 20 years ago
1,500 meters — One medal since 1952 (silver), 24 years ago
3,000-meter steeplechase — One medal since 1968 (bronze), 28 years ago
5,000 meters — No medals since 1964
10,000 meters — No medals since 1964
Marathon — One medal since 1972 — a silver for Meb Keflezighi, an African refugee and naturalized U.S. citizen.
800 meters — 3 medals since 1928, the last one 24 years ago
1,500 meters — 0 medals since the race was added to the Olympics in 1972
5,000 meters — 0 medals since the race was added to the Olympics in 1996
10,000 meters — 2 medals since the race was added to the Olympics in1988
Marathon — 2 medals since the race was added to the Olympics in 1984
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