USA 800-meter track-and-field star Khadevis Robinson, aka KD, started his 2011 season on a positive note with back-to-back wins. His first win was in Jamaica in 1:46.25 followed by another win at the Occidental meet in California in a time of 1:46.01.
But at the Rome Golden Gala on May 26, the third stop in the 2011 Samsung Diamond League pro track-and-field series, Robinson faced his stiffest competition and had to pull out all the stops.
The field was incredibly stacked, with two World Champions—2009 champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi of South Africa and 2007 champion Alfred Yego of Kenya—and the Commonwealth Champion, Boaz Lalang, with all three having run the 800 meters in the 1:42s. Added to the pack were Olympic 1,500-meter champion Asbel Kiprop and the World Junior champion David Mutua.
Sammy Tangui ran like a rabbit to set the pace for the first 400 meters in 49.83, while Robinson was literally running in last place at the back of the pack due to a slow start, clocking in at 52 seconds flat. When Tangui dropped out after the first lap, Mutua, the young World Junior Champion, took control at the front and opened up a gap in the field, leading the rest of the way until KD, the oldest runner in the event, flew past him.
At the 550-meter mark, with 250 meters to go, KD throttled his way up from the back. At 600 meters, Mutua was at 1:17.98 and Robinson was over a second behind—still in seventh place but moving fast. Passing runners like a rocket by the middle of the last turn and in the blink of an eye, KD was in second place, chasing Mutua down. With a little over 100 meters to go, KD flew by Mutua and just kept on going. KD’s lead increased down the final straight as he destroyed the field comprising some of the greatest 800-meter runners in the world.
“Nobody could have expected I’d win here,” KD said. “I felt good, everything went well and the oldest man in the race won.”
At 34 years of age, the married father of two crossed the finish line in 1:45.09 to beat Kiprop, the defending Olympic 1,500 champion; Mulaudzi, the defending World Champion in the 800; and Yego, who took silver in the 800 in the last World Championships.
From this event KD earned the title of USA Track & Field’s Athlete of the Week and surpassed the World and Olympic qualifying standard of 1:45.40.
“I only had two races (this year before Rome), but I had won both. I knew I was in better shape than what I had run,” said KD. “I knew I could run faster. That is one thing I wanted to get done—to validate the training and the nutrition program that I am on. My body was able to respond, and mentally I was able to do what I needed to do, and everything lined up. And I’m happy it did.
“I want to thank my long-time coach Dr. Frank Little, and I want to thank Natural Vitality Sports for the nutrition products that are helping me get to the top.
“For me at this point, my next concern is the (USATF) Nationals (June 23–26 in Eugene, qualifier for the World Championships in Korea). … It’s great to run fast times, and I want to run them, but the main thing is Nationals and running my fastest when it counts the most.”