Issuu on Google+

7th Edition

REGULARS

•Captain Speak •Injury Scan •Blast from the Past

FEATURES •David Rudisha •Vivian Cheruiyot •And many more

COMING FOR YOU Kenya’s Medal Machine Checks In at London 2012 Olympics


FAST TRACK 7th EDITION 3 | Word from AK

Four years after our gifted runners made history by giving the proud nation of Kenya her best ever performance ever at the biggest sporting event in the world, the Olympic Games are finally with us again...

12-15 | David Rudisha

It is no coincidence that David Lekuta Rudisha stands head and shoulders above his London 2012 teammates in the Kenyan athletics team that has undoubted quality...

22-24 | Pamela Jelimo

From obscurity of the backwater Kiptamuk hamlet, Koyo at the heart of the Kenyan Rift Valley to an Olympic champion in 2008, Pamela Jelimo epitomises the dramatic change of fortune some athletes endure in their short careers on the track...

29-31 | New Kids on the London Block

The arrival of each new sensation prompts a rummage through the roots of the competitor’s history – a fascination of what has gone into the making of the fresh arrival at the big stage...

14-17 Vivian Cheruiyot: ‘Pocket Rocket’ is confident she will re-write her country’s chequered legend at the Games

63-67 38-40 | International Stars of 2011 The key battles to watch out for at the Olympics...

Blast from the Past

IAAF recap of the end of the track career of two-time Olympics winner, Haile Gebrsellasie and details Pamela Jelimo’s epic triumph at the Bird’s Nest

41 | Captain Speak As the biggest sports extravaganza in the world starts in London all eyes will be on Team Kenya.

60-62 | Injury Scan Dealing with Stress Fractures

26-28 Ezekiel Kemboi In the last issue of this magazine, our writer argued Ezekiel Kemboi Yano can easily be described as the best steeplechaser of all time.

|1


WORD FROM THE GOVERNMENT

Editors Note

“T

here is no doubt the athletics team for London 2012 Olympics is arguably the most talented collection since Kenya first sent a squad to the quadrennial event in 1956. Their immediate predecessors at the Beijing Games set a record for the country when they won six gold medals, four silver and four bronze medals at a time when the nation was bleeding from

Four years down the line, the Kenyan medal machine has grown from strength to strength as previous editions of this authoritative athletics magazine devoted to their exploits has aptly chronicled. Trailblazing performances at the 2010 African Championships and Commonwealth Games and last year’s World Championships where Kenyan runners shattered existing barriers have made the buzz around London 2012 Olympics to reach fever pitch. It is this rapid progression that has made the Kenyan track and field team for the 30th Olympics command such interest in the previously disinterested corporate sector with companies rolling over themselves to have a piece of this collection of talented sportspersons flogging their products. Since the likes of retired great, Kipchoge Keino and Naftali Temu established Kenya on the Olympics map in the 60s and early 70s, the country’s distance runners have sustained a winning tradition that ranks them among top attractions at London 2012. World record holder, David Rudisha, Olympic champions, Pamela Jelimo, Brimin Kipruto and Asbel Kiprop, world titleholders, Vivian Cheruiyot and Abel Kirui, exciting talent in the mould of Wilson Kipsang, Silas Kiplagat, Nixon Chepseba besides the medal machine that is Olympics silver winner, Janeth Jepkosgei are among the stellar cast penned for the 30th Olympics. Only traditional archrivals, Ethiopia and Briton Mo Farah stand between Kenya and a sweep of all

distance running honours in London, that is, if the effects of chaotic buildup for the Games do not stand in the way. Kenya it seems thrives on chaos and preparations for London 2012 have been riddled by one controversy after another, from selection of the marathon team that saw world record holder, Patrick Makau shunted aside, plans to hold Trials in Eugene, Oregon, the Bristol training camp in the UK to disagreement over departure. Hopefully, these sideshows that have set Athletics Kenya against National Olympics Committee of Kenya with the athletes caught in the middle will clear to give our cherished runners an unobstructed path to gold. This edition of The Kenyan Runner devotes every single page to the Team Kenya London 2012 charge but also recognises the majesty of our archrivals Ethiopia to spare them a mention. Delve in the pages to be part of the latest golden chapter in Kenya’s sporting history as we all brace for the Games that will run from July 27 to August 12, with track and field action, our meadow of interest starting on August 3.

Go Team Kenya, Go! Mutwiri Mutuota

Send correspondence to editor@kenyanrunner.com

2|

AFRAA Building, 3rd Floor, Red Cross Road, South C P.O. Box 17745 - 00100, Nairobi Kenya Tel: +254-020-251-80-79, +254-020-251-80-80 Email: info@kenyanrunner.com Website: www.kenyanrunner.com ATHLETICS KENYA, Riadha House, P.O. Box 46722-00100 GPO, Nairobi, Kenya www.athleticskenya.or.ke

GO AND CONQUER THE WORLD

MANAGING EDITOR Mutwiri Mutuota SUB-EDITOR Bismarck Mutahi DESIGN & LAYOUT Naitore A. Gitonga (naito DESIGNS) CONTRIBUTORS Barnaba Korir, Chris Musumba, Dr. Victor Bargoria, IAAF, James Wokabi, Kabir Lalani, Michael Bowen, Sicily K. Kariuki (Mrs.), Wilfred Bungei, World Marathon Majors PHOTOGRAPHY Simon Mulumba (CMONCY Images) Getty Images ART DIRECTION naito DESIGNS SALES & MARKETING Hellen Kariuki ADMINISTRATION Joan Munene PRINTING The English Press The Kenyan Runner may not be copied and or transmitted or stored in any way or form, electronically or otherwise, without the prior and written consent of the publisher. The Kenyan Runner AFRAA Building, 3rd Floor, Red Cross Road, South C, P.O. Box 17745 - 00100, Nairobi Kenya and Telephone 020-2518079/80. Registered at the GPO as a newspaper. All correspondence to the editor is assumed to be intended for publication. The Kenyan Runner admits no liability for unsolicited articles or pictures, which must be accompanied with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this book, the authors, publishers and editors accept no responsibility for any loss, financial or otherwise, sustained by any person using this publication. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in several systems or transmitted in any form by any means, without the written permission of The Kenyan Runner Limited. All rights reserved.

“We won six gold, four silver and four bronze medals in China and this benchmark can be surpassed if the team is focused on utilising its talent.”

W

hen we did the Olympics Trials at the Nyayo National Stadium, you could think this was a miniOlympics where we had some of the best times. For Team Kenya, I want to say you carry the dreams of 40 millions Kenyans; you carry the dreams of over 6 billion people worldwide. I’m made to understand that 4 billion people will be watching the Olympics so you can imagine how proud we are going to be of you when you carry our flag in front of that television audience. I’m also happy that His Excellency the President Kibaki and the Right Honourable Prime Minister Raila Odinga will grace the London Olympics to see these young men and women participate. This is a great honour to this country. It is being said this is one the best team that Kenya has ever produced but we are also aware that the rest of the world is not asleep. We know that our competitors are trying to produce the best. So let us not go to sleep and I call on our coaches, managers and everyone given responsibility to train and guide this team to do your patriotic duty as Kenyans and let us concentrate. The ultimate sporting activity or

achievement for any sports personality is the Olympics so I want to urge that we forget anything else, let us not have any sideshows and let us concentrate on the Olympics so that we outdo what we did in Beijing. We won six gold, four silver and four bronze medals in China and this benchmark can be surpassed if the team is focused on utilising its talent. With this Team Kenya, we can do something proud and conquer London and that is what we are looking forward to. As a Government, we have put in place a lot of programmes that will change sports in this country. We have revamped the issue of resources in sports through the Sports Bill that will become very clear when we establish the National Sports Fund Board that will be responsible of raising money through the Sports Lottery and other partnerships. The resources will be used to develop sports and sponsor competitive activities so that these key responsibilities go together. We are also setting up the National Sports Institute that will produce coaches and sports scientists who will help this country go further. As a Government we appreciate the partnership that sponsors have shown to support sports in the country. In Africa, we know governments are still the main sponsors of sports but we

Hon. Dr. Paul Wekesa Otuoma Minister, Youth Affairs and Sports

are moving forward and need to create the enabling environment so that sponsors come on board especially for competitive sports so that the Government can devote most of its resources to the development aspect of sport In this years budget we have put in over Sh1b in the sports department to support some of our activities but that is still a drop in the ocean we need more and that can only come from partnerships and sponsorships. I wish this team all the best and I’m sure that they will be a symbol of pride as they set out to win as many medals as possible.

|3


WORD FROM ATHLETICS KENYA

Isaiah Kiplagat President, Athletics Kenya

“I urge Kenyans to keep our athletes in their prayers as they compete in London since without guidance and grace from God, all efforts we have put in place will be in vain.”

our years after our gifted runners made history by giving the proud nation of Kenya her best ever performance ever at the biggest sporting event in the world, the Olympic Games are finally with us again. In Beijing 2008, our runners united the country that was recovering from post-election violence in celebration when they broke the record set in Seoul 1988 by winning six gold, four silver and four bronze medals to top the chart in Africa. It took 20 years and four Olympic Games for our athletes and management to finally find the right formula in China and the endeavour of Athletics Kenya (AK) is to ensure we shall not wait for that long again. After receiving the report and recommendations from the able team we sent out to Beijing, AK began planning for London 2012 with the mission of bettering that record breaking performance. The national executive, panel of selectors, technical management and all other committees in the federation including youth and women were commissioned to work in partnership to ensure we improve on Beijing. I’m pleased to note that since then, our athletes broke records at 2010 African Championships we hosted in Nairobi

4|

and Commonwealth Games in Delhi in the same year in addition to 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. Our juniors and youth have performed exemplary well from championships such as 2010 World Juniors, 2010 Olympic Youth Games, 2011 World Youth and Commonwealth Youth Games and recently, at the 2012 World Juniors in Barcelona not forgetting continental and regional championships. Medallists from these events such as Mercy Cherono, Faith Chepng’etich, Isaiah Kiplangat Koech, Timothy Kitum, Anthony Chemut and Alphas Kishoiyan among others have qualified to represent their country at senior level. Above all, our female athletes have greatly improved to equal and in cases such as Daegu and Delhi, out-perform their male counterparts and the same trend is expected at London when track the action kicks-off on August 3. AK has gone out of its way to ensure the team selected for London 2012 is the best qualified squad to fulfil the task of surpassing Beijing. We focused on maintaining winning events where we are strong such as the women 5000m and 10,000m, men 800m and 1500m, men and women marathon and

improving areas we are weak. The federation for instance, arranged for an extended training camp in Eldoret for our men 10,000m athletes who have not won Olympic gold for 44 years and for the first time, held their Trial at the Pre Fontaine Classic in Eugene, United States on June 2. They went ahead to set the fastest times of the year and in other races after identifying London probables, we held separate Trials on June 16 and June 23 besides limiting the number of outside races they participated in to encourage peak performance during the Olympic Games. It gave a chance for women 5000 and 10,000m world champion, Vivian Cheruiyot and Sally Kipyego to qualify to double at the Olympics, a rare achievement with world record holder, David Rudisha set to run in both his 800m race and 4x400m relay without burning them out. Kenya will be represented by a male Javelin thrower for the first time at the Olympics after we sent Julius Yego to Finland, the home of that sport to train for two months and the outcome was a national record that was under the B-Standard for London. Our petition to enter him for Olympics under special discretion was accepted by

I salute the dedication, discipline, sacrifice and focus displayed by our current generation of runners. Coaches, Athletes’ Representatives and AK officials, right from grassroots to the National Executive, have played an important role in achieving the objective of guarantying that our athletes are ready to take on and beat the world in London.

IAAF and considering sprinters, 4x400m Relay and 400m Hurdlers were sent to Penn Relays in the United States and Africa Championships in Benin to gain exposure and Olympics qualification, our plan to expand medal prospects beyond distance running is well on course. I salute the dedication, discipline, sacrifice and focus displayed by our current generation of runners. Coaches, Athletes’ Representatives and AK officials, right from grassroots to the National Executive, have played an important role in achieving the objective of guarantying that our athletes are ready to take on and beat the world in London. We could not have put this all together without the support of our sponsors, both in material and in kind, including Nike, National Bank of Kenya, Kenya Commercial Bank, Safaricom among others and above all, the Government through the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport that answered to our call generously. Our close partnership with the National Olympics Committee-Kenya in the build-up for London brought commendable initiatives such as the preOlympics training camp in Bristol, UK, that benefitted our short distance runners as well as our Javelin prospect with much needed exposure and world class facilities. Special gratitude goes out to His Excellency, President Kibaki and Prime

Minister, The Right Honourable, Raila Odinga, for their continued support and inspiration leadership has given our athletes besides committing to be present in London to watch them do the nation proud. I urge Kenyans to keep our athletes in their prayers as they compete in London since without guidance and grace from God, all efforts we have put in place will be in vain. I wish the class of London 2012 the very best of luck.

Cycle with the Rhino continues to be a spectacular bicycle racing event held annually to raise much needed funds for the rehabilitation of Lake Nakuru National Park’s 74 km perimeter electric fence, key in the management of human wildlife conflict and to undertake community conservation education around the park on issues of mitigation, poaching, fire management and fence vandalism.


WORD FROM TEAM KENYA MANAGER

LONDON WILL BEAT BEIJING MARK Joseph I. Kinyua Team Manager, Athletics for London 2012

T

he 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing remain the best outing for Kenya as we had six gold, four silver and four bronze. Our expectation is that we are going to surpass that mark and that means we have an obligation to produce more than 14 medals, anything between 14 and 20. Part of the reason we expect better results than Beijing is the team composition. We are much better than we were four years ago. Looking at 800m, Pamela Jelimo is still there and we have David Rudisha the world record holder where people like Alfred Kirwa Yego, Boaz Lalang and Jackson Kivuva had no chance and that tells you the standards have gone high. Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop is still around in 1500m so is Brimin Kipruto, who won the 3,000m steeplechase in Beijing. In an effort to end our 44-year wait in men 10,000m, we invested a lot, the camp in Eldoret and selection in America and when it comes to the marathon as usual, we are in control in both men and women. Given that scenario and all the stars we have such as Ezekiel Kemboi, Thomas Longosiwa, Wilson Kiprop, Janeth Jepkosgei, Vivian Cheruiyot just to name but a few we have the solid material to achieve our objective. The only regret we have is that Nancy

6|

“Our female athletes have grown to be anchors of our team and London will be no different. The bigger part in their success story has been the coming of age of our women who competed at youth and junior level.� Jebet Langat, who got us gold in Beijing, is injured and will miss the games in London. Meanwhile, it is only fair that once field athletes have hit the qualifying marks we take them out for exposure. We have a male Javelin thrower in our team and we believe this will eventually diversify areas of our performance. Julius Yego can throw 79m or 80m at the moment but competing against Scandinavians who do 89m or 90m we are not expecting a huge impression. He might not get gold, silver or bronze but being there will leave a mark in him and will inspire others. In sprints, we are hoping the 4x400m relay team will post the kind of performances it achieved at Mexico City in 1968 and Munich Olympics (1972) where they won silver and gold. Any medal is not impossible if they put in more effort. We shall continue encouraging performances outside distance races, as that is the policy of Athletics Kenya. Our female athletes have grown to be anchors of our team and London will be no different. The bigger part in their success story has been the coming of age of our women who competed at youth and junior level. I took Cheruiyot to Bydgoszcz as a youth in 1999 where she got a bronze medal. Silvia Kibet, Jepkosgei and Jelimo are others who

have come up through the ranks and it is not a coincidence they have turned out to be the best. We have put in a lot of resources in the London 2012 team and if we can quantify for instance in the men 10000m, we are talking of about Sh10m. This was for their camp, flight to Eugene, Oregon, local and overseas allowances and hiring coaches. I wish to thank our Government and sponsors for coming in and assisting in preparing the team. The motivation they get from being handed the flag by President Kibaki and having guests like the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga for dinner is enormous. Companies such as Safaricom have promised them up to Sh1m for winning and we cannot be grateful enough for such gestures. During a recent poll, 79 per cent of Kenyans said they had faith in this team and what I can promise all in this great nation is to expect success. They should keep praying for us, encouraging us and we shall perform.


FOCUS ON KINYUA

WORD FROM NOCK

THIS IS OUR BEST TEAM EVER “I appreciate our athletes, they are respected worldwide, we respect you here at home, we honour you and through your hard work you have been selected to represent this country and once again, I thank the coaches for what you have done.”

T

his is the best team ever that we have selected to represent this country and I feel honoured as a leader taking it to London for the Olympics. Athletes, boxers, swimmers and the female weightlifter that will present a mixed team of men and women will show that in this country we have a lot of talent and we need to put our heads together to be able to tap the talent we have countrywide. I must thank our sponsors who have approached the National Olympics Committee to support us and we have accepted because sponsorship has given us a chance to develop youth talent. Others have given us equipment, playing kit and uniform, for our youth and we shall go everywhere when we finish the Olympics and distribute it to those in rural areas since we have already done it in Nairobi. Playing grounds in this country need improvement if we are to continue producing sportsmen and women who can compete for this nation in future Olympics. Our Government has played an important role for Team Kenya as the main sponsors for London and I would like to thank the Ministry of Youth and Sports since we met and discussed the way forward and I

8|

hope we will do more. I also thank the management of the team, coaches, doctors and the athletes who are the stars and the representatives of this country and I feel honoured for what you have done to be selected for London Olympics. I want to mention the men 10,000m. We had to take a team to America and we were asked why we took them there. I thought it was the best thing to do for a better result and our athletes ran the best times this year when they went there. Apart from that, there is the men 5000m where we had over 40 athletes who qualified in A-Standard, only 110 countries in the world qualify to the Olympics by A-Standard and Kenya which is the leading in Africa is one of them. We reduced the athletes to 16 and we had to select only three to represent Kenya in the end and there are many other countries in the world looking to have only one athlete to qualify in A-Standard. See the raw material we have? I appreciate our athletes, they are respected worldwide, we respect you here at home, we honour you and through your hard work you have been selected to represent this country and once again, I thank the coaches

JOSEPH ICHUNGE KINYUA

Kipchoge Keino IOC Member Chairman National Olympics Committee of Kenya

for what you have done. This team is a unified squad with discipline but they should know, threequarters of the running is mental and the other part, hard work. As an honour to this country our team was invited to train in the UK city of Bristol that gave Kenya and myself the reward of giving me the freedom of the city and I hear only one other person (Sir Winston Churchill) has been given this. The facilities there are excellent and that is why I assured the team they will get the best preparation there. There are mountain areas for our distance runners to train, good pools for our swimmers and our boxers will travel to Cardiff for special training. What many people forget is Noah Ngeny trained in London for two months before going to Sydney and winning gold in 1500m in 2000. Win or lose, we shall shake hands with the loser since this is the spirit of sportsmanship, the spirit of Olympics. God bless you all.

MIDAS TOUCH Veteran administrator, Joseph Kinyua, the behind the scenes mastermind of Team Kenya success .......................................................... .............................. BY TKR WRITER

We won 14 medals in Beijing, six gold, four silver and four bronze in our best performance and in London, we are focused on winning more than that.

H

e has never worn any medal from the track around his neck but Joseph Ichunge Kinyua has been a major input to the decorated run of Kenyan athletes for the better part of the past two decades as an administrator. While there is no doubt runners merit lavish praise and adulation that comes their way, officials who work tirelessly behind the scenes are seldom acknowledged for the equally important part they play in the success. For the second successive Olympics, Joseph Kinyua, a veteran mandarin in Athletics Kenya (AK) has been appointed as the Team Manager of the squad expected to be the toast of the nation come August 16 when they are set to return home from London. A man of many hats, Kinyua who is well into his 60s is walking the tightrope of ensuring Kenyans will have all reason to celebrate when their revered track and field team takes to the London Olympics Stadium from August 2.

“We won 14 medals in Beijing, six gold, four silver and four bronze in our best performance and in London, we are focused on winning more than that,” he underpinned the scope of the team’s mission at the 30th Olympics. Born in the bowels of the vast Meru region of Eastern Kenya, Kinyua who manages AK’s coffers as the Honorary National Treasurer progressed from the classroom to become one of the most seasoned and decorated administrators in the sport. “I grew up like everyone else, went to school and served as a teacher, head master, principal and a commissioner at Teachers Service Commission,” the affable manager quipped. An alumnus of Meru and Alliance High schools where he sat for his Ordinary and Advance levels of education, Kinyua enrolled at the University of Nairobi where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. Having been a member of the Kenya Colleges and Schools Sports Council in his extended teaching career that saw him become the principal of Kisii High School

|9


FOCUS ON KINYUA

and Kenya Science Teachers College, Kinyua’s first dalliance with Team Kenya was in 1994. “I was asked to lead the team to the Lisbon World Juniors where athletes like Daniel Komen won two gold medals, Jackline Maranga and Japheth Kimutai among others were first seen,” he recalled. Kenya finished third among 50 nations that medalled at the event with a tally of three gold, four silver and three bronze behind global powerhouses United States and Russia. Komen is still the current record holder of the men 3000m, Barsosio, who won bronze on that occasion, went on to become the youngest winner of the women 10000m world title in history (1997) while Kimutai, a silver winner in 800m is the mentor of current record holder, David Rudisha. He was once again called upon two years later to manage the squad for the Sydney World Juniors and although Kenya dropped down to fourth with three gold, five silver and a bronze, the team featured among others, Noah Ngeny who went on to win the Olympics gold in the same city in 2000. “Nancy Jebet Langat and Edna Kiplagat who won gold medals in Beijing Olympics and Daegu World Championships were in that team as well as one of the best 800m runners from Eastern (Joseph) Muengi Mutua,” Kinyua reminisced. When the IAAF introduced the World Youth Championships, the assignment to lead the country’s first team to the inaugural 1999 edition in Bydgoszcz, Poland, fell to Kinyua who had been elected Honorary Treasurer at AK three years before. For him, Bydgoszcz 1999 occupies a high place in the mantle of his achievements since the assembled Team Kenya conquered the world with five gold, two silver and three bronze in the bag. “When I look back at that team, I’m proud since it had Vivian Cheruiyot, Janeth Jepkosgei and Sylvia Kibet who are in command of the women distance running now. It is one squad I hold in my heart, coming back as number one in the world. “To date, I still have a special relationship with that group,” he gushed. A year later, the bulk of that team turned up at Santiago, Chile for the World Juniors where Kinyua was elected to lead the flock to the desired effect as Kenya ruled the charts with seven gold, four silver and three bronze medals. Kinyua was also involved in the senior

10|

sides for the World Cross as an official beginning at the 1999 edition in Belfast, Ireland. He was once again appointed as the Team Manager for the 2006 World Juniors in Beijing, China where Kenya reclaimed her place at the top of the pile with six gold, seven silver and two bronze. “That is the team where Rudisha who won gold was first seen internationally. Others like Florence Kiplagat, Jackson Kivuva and Irene Jelagat who have done well for the country were also in it and the most important thing is that we took back ‘our’ number one spot,” the administrator pinpoints with his trademark grin. After excelling with age runners, Kinyua was placed in charge of the athletics team for the Beijing Olympics, an edition of the quadrennial showpiece that was significant to the nation beyond the pursuit for sporting glory. Kenya’s reputation as a Island of Peace was brutally shattered at the beginning of 2008 as over 1500 perished and tens of thousands internally displaced in postelection violence that rocked the nation in the bloody aftermath of the bungled December 2007 polls. “It was a new experience for me and although I was honoured, I was apprehensive on the performance. Dealing with seniors is different from juniors and I realised there was a lot of care needed in the team,” he conceded. A country that desperately sought cohesion was united in roaring its athletes who set an Olympics milestone, winning six gold, four silver and four bronze medals in Kenya’s best ever showing, another key feather in the administrator’s cap. The party mood that engulfed the nation as Wilfred Bungei, Brimin Kipruto, Samuel Wanjiru, Pamela Jelimo and Jebet Langat soared to Olympics crowns at the iconic Bird’s Nest extended to December, long after the late Wanjiru ensured the national anthem was the last to be played in Beijing. Asbel Kiprop would later have his silver elevated to gold. “To be honest, I was not expecting what happened in Beijing being my first experience at that level. Beijing was not an outcome of what we had put in even when Wanjiru won the first marathon gold, we were not thinking about it,” Kinyua confessed.

The Beijing performance laid the foundation for other roaring Team Kenya returns from the 2010 Africa Championships and Commonwealth Games and last year’s World Championships in Daegu where the team swept the floor with their rivals. After Beijing, Kinyua was the Team Leader for the Bydgoszcz World Cross in Poland in 2010 that once again, shattered barriers for the nation as the squad won eight out of eight gold medals. “To hear our national anthem played eight times was remarkable, something I will

NOTE WORTHY

“We are focused and we know what to expect and trend is very important in management. The Kenyan curve is very good at the moment and that gives us confidence ahead of London.” never forget. “I Thank God for giving me the opportunity and a lucky hand since whenever I’m with them they perform well. I thank AK since despite having talent, I was given an opportunity to use it since without a chance, it is useless,” he intoned. “Irrespective of what talent you have it is your philosophy and passion of what you want to achieve that counts. “Those who hold a philosophy of me first, those who know me, myself and I fail. You must sacrifice, have patriotism and the ability to manage public finances to achieve the purpose they are meant,” he advises. Kinyua discounts the theory that Kenyan runners who are reputed to be laid back are

tricky to contend with when bunched as a group to represent their country. “Our athletes are very humble and obedient but senior runners are a bit difficult to deal with because of the tension since the competition level is high. “If they are not handled correctly or if there are issues that are not clear to them, they can silently react, they will not come out and protest openly. They are patriotic unlike others I have seen out there such as Americans,” the Team Manager athletics for London 2012 assures. Despite the landmarks he has achieved in his long stint as an official, Kinyua intimates hurdles have beset the path. “People have their own aspirations so to be able to harness and put them together as a team is the challenge. Like (Patrice) once Lumumba said, keep your eyes on the antelope,” he asserts citing the late first Prime Minister of Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire). He adds, “As a leader the biggest challenge is to keep everyone focused on the targets you have set upon. “I never set out to ask what I’m I gaining for myself, the passion for excellence, pride in ones own achievement and the satisfaction that comes out is what motivates me when given the task to lead our team.” On London Olympics, Kinyua is bullish that the selected squad is up to the task of shining Kenya’s torch bright. “We are focused and we know what to expect and trend is very important in management. The Kenyan curve is very good at the moment and that gives us confidence ahead of London. “Since Beijing, nothing has changed, the factors that made us perform are still constant and if we can sustain that curve, we can get what we desire.” The father of four who idolises among others, the Head of State Mwai Kibaki, has drawn on his classroom experiences to handle successive national teams to success. “It was the former American president (John F Kennedy) who said, ask what you can do for America, not what America can do for you. I admire our president who has done a lot in free primary education, the economy and infrastructure like roads even when he knows he will not be standing for re-election. “This is the kind of sacrifice leaders need to have to ensure they leave a mark,” he concludes.

|11


FOCUS ON RUDISHA

By MUTWIRI MUTUOTA

TIME TO ADD ANOTHER CROWN? King David highly tipped to rule London

I

t is no coincidence that David Lekuta Rudisha stands head and shoulders above his London 2012 teammates in the Kenyan athletics team that has undoubted quality. Already, he is being referred to by the hallowed title; ‘King David’ and the world 800m record holder heads to his first Olympics as one of his nation’s signature athletes that will be on show. For him to be mentioned at the same breadth as the second king of the United Kingdom of Israel is testament of how his stature has grown among his countrymen after his Olympics dream perished four years ago. In the intervening period, the powerful legs of the Maasai High Moran have powered to milestone upon milestone, elevating him to the apex of his sport in addition to earning his

12|

place as a national darling, the shoe advert aside. During the Trials for London, Rudisha earned even more plaudits when he blessed the Nyayo National Stadium track with a shining high altitude record of 1:42.12, a staggering performance in light of the fact that the fastest winning time for an Olympics final was achieved in 1996 by Norwegian Vebjorn Rodal who timed 1:42.58! If he can go out that fast at a Trial, what will the clocks potentially return at the main event? “If I wanted to run at slow pace, win nice and comfortable, I could have done that but the passion and feelings I have for the supporters who cheered us made me give my best for them,” he nonchalantly explained, paling the significance of his achievement that beat his own 1:42.84 previous high elevation best performed when winning

his second African title at the same stadium in July 2010. Barely a month later, Rudisha had broken and set a new world record first in Berlin where he ran 1:41.09 to confine Wilson Kipketer’s long standing 1:41.11 to history before taking on and obliterating his own standard by blasting to 1:41.01 in Rieti a week later. Therefore, his performance on June 23 in Nairobi lays credence to the assertion that he is in better shape than he was two seasons ago, a menacing sign to his rivals in London and a mouth watering prospect for the adherents of men 800m running. “Running the altitude record in Nairobi was fantastic, I do not think anyone has ever run such a fast time without pace makers. I believe in myself, I believe in my training even without the pacemaker I can control, I’m strong, and I have good finish so I have no much worry,” he

confidently charged. The wide held belief is that his world record cannot be achieved without a trusted rabbit but having competed without his established pacemaker, Sammy Tangui this season, Rudisha gave further evidence he is out not only to bag the top medal in London, but to do so with the added shine of beating his own all time best. “I hope when I get there, I shall win the Olympics and doing other great things like maybe even breaking the world record again,” he proclaimed. However, beating his benchmark in two-lap running at the biggest sporting carnival does not override his desire to stand at the middle of the podium in London four years after his nation believed he was not worthy of outside selection to Beijing. “I hope for a great race since what matters is winning the gold medal. There is no need of breaking the world record at the Olympics. I’m really optimistic. This is the only major title I’m missing on my table. I’m doing

FEATURED - DAVID LEKUTA RUSISHA 800M WORLD RECORD HOLDER

all my best and the way I started training this year I did a lot of work with my coach,” he added. Last year, Rudisha fulfilled his enormous promise that first came to view when he won the World Junior title in 2006 in Beijing, China by soaring above all to win his first global senior title in Daegu, South Korea dispelling the notion he was a circuit performer having crashed out at the semis of Berlin 2009 Worlds. “I was injured at the beginning of the season and my training did not go as I would have liked. I wanted to try and break the world record again but it did not come together as I would have

wished. “This year, I did quite good training and I said earlier on, 2011 was different type of training from 2010 but this year, I combined both to see whether I can do fast races as well as handle Olympics that will be a tactical race. “I’m happy because I can see all of them coming together nicely.” With supporters using mobile phone and digital cameras snapping him at every available opportunity, Rudisha was undoubtedly a star attraction during the Trials especially on the final day when he left most jaws on the floor. Adorned in traditional Moran apparel as he took his lap of honour,

|13


FOCUS ON RUDISHA

...........

the adoring public reciprocated by offering him the kind of roar reserved for heroes as they pointedly vested their Olympic hopes on his broad dark shoulders. “I know there is a lot of pressure being the current world record holder in 800m and world champion. This year is a big year, the Olympics year and everybody who loves sport, loves the Olympics and I know there are a lot of expectations. “It is a good thing because when you channel that pressure into a positive attitude, it will make me perform well.” London will not only be about the Olympics as Rudisha has family matters also to attend to in his internal duel with his father, Daniel Rudisha, who made history at the Mexico 1968 Olympics when he teamed up with Munyoro Ngamau, Naftali Bon and Charles

This year is a big year, the Olympics year and everybody who loves sport, loves the Olympics and I know there are a lot of expectations.

14|

Asati to win the 4x400m relay Olympics. silver. “Rudisha is in great shape, more “I’m happy that my father than in 2010 and this year, he is was a 4x400m runner and won going to bring the medal, I mean Kenya a silver medal. I do 400m gold to Kenya and I would not as well and I’m happy to be in the be surprised if he broke the world Kenyan team for the Olympics. record again,” Commonwealth “We already have the silver champion, Boaz Lalang, the medal when my father ran in Beijing finalist whose ambitions 1968 and I want to better it and for joining Rudisha in the bring home the gold medal that London party ended at the semis is my ambition and mission this of the Trials. year and I hope we will work as Kirwa, the Olympics silver at team but I will do my best.” winner who partnered Rudisha At the onset of the Olympics at last year’s Worlds added, “I’m season, Rudisha got his always happy being on the track campaign underway by winning with him because he is that man the opening who can go in Samsung front and run Diamond faster. I believe League meeting he is the man to in Doha in be watched in 1:43.10 (May London since he 11), that was is in good form DID YOU faster than the right now. KNOW? 1:43.88 and “It is a ...................... 1:43.15 he privilege for Rudisha is launched his Kenya that the first 800m campaigns in Rudisha is going runner to run 2011 and 2010. to London, he sub 1.42 six On June will make it times. 9, he took the happen,” the Adidas New 2007 World York Grand Champion Prix track for stressed after his his American Olympics hopes debut where were buried in he attacked and subsequently the Nyayo tartan after finishing smashed Rodal’s 1:42.58 all sixth at the selection decider. comers record when he powered Being an Olympics, the to the 1:41.74 world lead in a 800m line-up poses potential dominant display of racing where land mines to the aspirations of his bridesmaid, Alfred Kirwa the champion-elect, among them Yego arrived at the line a street silver medallist from Daegu and behind. long time rival, Abubaker Kaki “I always seek to improve any and Ethiopia’s rising sensation, time I go out there. I did 1:43.01 Mohammed Aman, the World in Doha and when I went out Indoor titleholder who handed in New York, I was expecting to Rudisha his first defeat in 28 run 1:42 but running 1:41 was races last September. great,” the ever modest yardstick “It will take a while for them in two-lap running tendered. to be at the top since I’m still While Rudisha is coy on his there, I’m setting the fastest times prospects, his peers reckon that and I don’t think they are near he is in the zone and none would to where I am. I urge them to go be surprised if he blows apart all step by step and they will reach barriers known to his race at the there,” he fired off as warning.

Another Samsung Diamond League 800m victory for David Rudisha, this time in Lausanne

Note worthy

...........

RUDISHA Gets set to cruise his way to victory at the Nairobi Nyayo Stadium

2012 RUDISHA STATS 400 m 45.82

800 m

SB (91)

1:44.33 1:43.10 1:41.74 SB (1) 1:42.12A

2

Classic

Sydney

Feb 18

1 1 1 1

Classic Diamond Diamond OT

Melbourne Doha New York Nairobi

Mar 3 May 11 Jun 9 Jun 23

Bio Data

Names: David Lekuta Rudisha Born: December 17, 1988, Kilgoris, Trans Mara

County, Rift Valley Province Coach: Brother Colm O’Connell Manager: James Templeton Camp: Iten Height: 190 cm (6’3’’)

|15


FOCUS ON CHERUIYOT

CHERUIYOT ON LONDON

DOUBLE CHARGE S

FEATURED - VIVIAN CHERUIYOT WORLD 5000M AND 10000M CHAMPION

16|

By CHRIS MUSUMBA

eldom do athletes permit themselves to take on so much pressure and responsibility to a big competition like the Olympics. Staged every four years, it is the ultimate stop in an athlete’s career and it is not everyday that one competes at the Olympics in three or four occasions. For most, just getting to start an Olympics event is a marked zenith while medalling is a privileged preserve of a few. World 5000m and 10000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot is made of sterner stuff however and making up the numbers or even racing to the podium is not enough at the forthcoming Olympics. The diminutive ‘Pocket Rocket’ is confident she will re-write her country’s chequered legend at the Games as she embarks on redefining the history of women running on her third Olympics outing. Ever since Cheruiyot blossomed at the inaugural World Youth Championship in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in 1999, she has kept on pushing her bar higher; reaching dizzying heights that only someone of her seamless talent can dare to dream. Her cruise to the top has not entirely been fruitful, there have been drawbacks dotting in her illustrious career including nagging injuries, the bane of every sportsperson. But she sojourned on without raising much fuss, immersed herself in the intense training and emerged with a reputation greatly

enhanced especially over the last two seasons. Now as her focus shifts to London Olympics, Cheruiyot wants to seize the moment and kill two birds with one stone. She is in line to clinch Kenya the double gold in 10000m and 5000m distances. Her archrival and equally potent Ethiopian female distance running wonder, Tirunesh Dibaba is the only other living or dead female athlete to ascend to that pantheon of greatness when she completed the long distance track double in Beijing four years ago. “I know exactly what I want. I am the best placed person to talk about my form and as of now, I have enough strength and shape to tackle the two races and will emerge victorious,” said Cheruiyot. Of course the World Cross Country champion is under no illusions she rest on her laurels if she is to repeat her Daegu success at London 2012. The Olympics gold is the only medal missing from her impressive expanded medal cabinet since she announced her coming to the international scene. Cheruiyot was 14th over 5000m in Sydney 2000, was not on the Kenyan Olympic team in 2004 where another Ethiopian arch nemesis Meseret Defar picked up the top medal at the same distance. The pair clashed at the Osaka 2007 Worlds where the Kenyan was forced to accept the bridesmaid position and on her second Olympics campaign in Beijing, Cheruiyot (fifth) was among those who bowed down

|17


BEST TIME

FOCUS ON CHERUIYOT

in surrender to the ‘Baby Faced Destroyer’ as Tirunesh powered to female distance running history. However, in Berlin 2009, Cheruiyot took the World title to herself, with Meseret settling for bronze. She reaffirmed her prowess in Daegu last year when she became the first Kenyan athlete to strike double gold when the ‘Pocket Rocket’ perfected last lap blur left all comers trailing in the 5000m and 10000m finals. In London, Cheruiyot has to overcome Tirunesh and Meseret in addition to another stellar cast to realise her Olympics dream. “At the long run, we are going to compete together. It does not worry me at all, I’m strong myself. It will reach that time, I’m so happy because this time, we are going to race with Dibaba. “It’s been a long time racing with Dibaba and I’m very happy that I want to race with Dibaba so that I can have the morale,” Cheruiyot said on the sidelines of her victory in the women 5000m Kenyan Trial,” the Laureus Female Sports Personality of the year enthused soon after she dispensed the field in the 5000m Trial that confirmed her double assault was on after clinching the longer selection race a week prior. “I have said it before, I fear nobody when we move on the track. I run my own race, I have faith in my final sprint and as long as I don’t pick up an injury, victory is always in focus. “I know they (Ethiopians) are really angry because of last year and this season I have been their worst enemy. I realise that they are not going to give up trying to beat Kenyans,” she added in cognisance of the challenge that awaits. Cheruiyot will not be the first Kenyan to double in Olympics history. In Mexico City (1968), four years after the first medal had been won by Kiprugut Chumo, legendary Kipchoge Keino and an IAAF Hall of Fame inductee struck gold in 1500m, clocking 3:34.9. He added silver in the 5000m (14:05.2) behind Naftali Temu, who took gold in 14:06.4. Temu went on to claim a double in the 10000m race in 29:27.4. Only two female athletes Tegla Loroupe in 1999 and Isabella Ochichi in 2005 have doubled up in two different disciplines at the World Championships. Whereas both failed to attain their goal of clinching two titles, it did not

18|

14:20.89

It feels good to make it to the Olympics. Not so many people get the chance to compete in three Olympics. I was in Athens, Beijing and now I am going to London.

demoralise the Africa and Commonwealth 5000m champion from her dream to write her name in the folklore as the first Kenyan to attain this feat in Daegu last year. Loroupe doubled up in both the marathon and 10000m race in Seville while Ochichi, fresh from clinching the Athens Olympics silver medal in 5000m, decided to double up in the 12-lap race and the 10000m at the World Championship in Helsinki, Finland. However, while both opted to double as an after thought having failed in their principal races (Loroupe in 10000m and Ochichi in 5000m); Cheruiyot will be heading to London fully aware of the task that lies ahead. The 28-year-old is enjoying her best spell in her career with her imperious form taking her to one record after another. Cheruiyot has been in the frontline of taking the battle to the Ethiopians who for a decade swept the floor with their red, green and black clad northern rivals. She stands out as the pillar in Team Kenya, the steel on which the silk of World 10000m silver medallist Sally Kipyego and Joyce Chepkirui, the Africa cross country champion will be wrapped on in the 25-lap race.

In the shorter race, Kipyego who also harbours muted London 2012 double aspirations and the resurgent Viola Kibiwott, the established metric miler who moved up the distance runner will partner the crown jewel in Kenyan female running. Pointedly to her rivals, Cheruiyot believes the finals are hers to lose. “The form I enjoy at the moment is good. I see no major threat and it is up to me to win and display the ability to double up in both races,” she said. During the Kenyan Trials, Cheruiyot underlined her intentions by strolling to victories at both races where in the first, Berlin Worlds titleholder Linet Masai bowed out. Despite feeling the effects of a slight strain she suffered before travelling for the Rome Golden Gala, Cheruiyot did not deploy her famed last-lap blasters, choosing to draw on her pedigree to hold off the hard fighting Chepkirui who was stunned by finishing so close to the winner for her maiden Olympics qualification. “It feels good to make it to the Olympics. Not so many people get the chance to compete in three Olympics. I was in Athens, Beijing and now I go to London,” said Cheruiyot. “The race was tough with a strong field. But as I said before, I do not look at the opponent’s strength. I prefer to focus on my own ability and let my legs do the talking. It is not good to worry so much about your opponent.” Cheruiyot posted a time of 32:24.52 to beat Chepkirui (32:24.71) to second while Oregon based Kipyego with 32:26.82 wound up third to clinch the last Olympic berth in 10000m. But there will be no room for 2009 World champion Masai. She was fourth on her debut Olympic show in Beijing in 2008, but she will have to wait another four years to see if she will get a second shot at the games in Rio. “It was hard and I agree I lost out to good runners. They are strong and deserve the chance to represent Kenya in London.

Note worthy DID YOU KNOW? ......................

Vivian became the first Kenyan to win double gold at the world championships in Daegu 2011?

|19


GUEST COLUMN

FOCUS ON CHERUIYOT

WILL VIVIAN BEAT DIBABA? By Agencies

It is not the end of running though for me. There are still many competitions lined up and I will not stop. I will never give up on athletics,” said Masai who was fourth in Beijing as she became the high profile victim of the Trials. A week after Cheruiyot won the 10000m race, she turned up for the 5000m selection event where once again, she hardly moved out of second gear as Kipyego arrived home as her bridesmaid on this occasion. She was credited with a time of 16:08.08 ahead of Kipyego the world silver medallist 16:09.29 while Kibiwott was third in 16:09.45. “Vivian is a very strong athlete and an asset to this country. Every time I step onto the track with her, I enjoy every moment of it and she has motivated us to be stronger. “I can only aim to be closer to her and the rest of the girls and winning silver at the World Championships has given me the confidence that I can compete with the best. Who knows, maybe my chance is around the corner,” Kipyego said of her teammate. While Cheruiyot has had the measure of Meseret, the former 5000m world champion in recent times, Tirunesh who missed last season due to injury represents a different kettle of fish for her. In their 17 career meetings stretching from their first clash at the 2001 World Cross in Oostead, Cheruiyot has only ever finished ahead of the Ethiopian ‘Baby faced Destroyer’ on two occasions, at their first showdown and at the 2004 Fukuoka World Cross where Tirunesh registered DNF. Their most recent meeting came at the Aviva London Grand Prix in 2010 where the double world record holder forced Cheruiyot to accept runner-up in 14:38.17 against 14:36.41 for the winner that was a world lead on August 13. Since her return to action at the beginning of the season, Tirunesh has strung four victories with her winning performance at the Pre Fontaine Classic on June 3 of 30:24.39 accounting for the world lead over 10000m. Cheruiyot blazes the charts in the shorter 5000m with her 14:35.62 victory at the Rome Golden Gala (31 May) with the pair sharing the honours when they last competed at the same event, the 2010 African Championships in Nairobi where Cheruiyot won the 12 and a half-lap race gold with Tirunesh scooping the 10000m. Their showdown in London could produce a distance running classic where the winner will ascend to the middle of history’s podium.

20|

K

enyan women’s 5,000m and 10,000m world champion Vivian Cheruiyot is relishing the challenge of double Ethiopian Olympic title holder Tirunesh Dibaba ahead of their anticipated clash at London Olympics. Cheruiyot who has never beaten Tirunesh on the track is confident of her shape as she prepares for the double assault at the London Games having recovered from a slight ankle strain to make her nation’s Olympics squad at both distances. “I want to race with Dibaba so that I can have the morale since it’s been a long time since I raced against her,” Cheruiyot said. In the absence of the world record holder at both distances last season due to long term injury, Cheruiyot soared to the top of women distance running but Tirunesh has bounced back to her top shape this season, running the world leading 30:24.39 over 10,000m on June 2 at the Pre Fontaine Classic Samsung Diamond League meeting in Oregon. “I’m sure of my shape although I ran with slight injury in Rome and Doha and that is why I’m confident of going for the double since one cannot go for such a thing if you are not sure you can do something good,” the African and Commonwealth 5,000m champion explained. She pays tribute to the force carried by her Ethiopian rival whom she admits her achievement in Beijing four years ago where she scooped the distance track double inspired her to emulate her feat in South Korea last year. “But the Ethiopian ladies should also know that I’m strong just like they are strong and I do not fear Dibaba or anyone,” Cheruiyot asserted. The pair split the honors at the 2010 Africa athletics championships in Nairobi with the Kenyan winning in 5,000m as the Ethiopian took home the longer race. “But the time has come when we must race and it is something I’m looking forward since I need this gold badly. It is the only thing I do not have in my athletics career,” the world leader over 5,000m (14:35.62) nicknamed ‘Pocket Rocket’ intoned. The last time they competitively clashed was at the Aviva London Grand Prix meeting in 2010 where the Ethiopian (14:36.41) who is also referred to in athletics circles as ‘Baby Faced Destroyer’ held off her rival (14:38.17) in a flying finish to the showdown. “I’m confident in my training for both 5,000m and 10,000m and there is no much difference in both since they fall under the same programme. One only has to know how to balance the training,” Cheruiyot stated in assuring she was up to the task. The Daegu double winner who is due to illuminate the track with her fearsome kick this season, promised the best out of her was due to come at the Olympic finals. “You wait until the big one comes and you will see!” Cheruiyot quipped. Daegu 10,000m silver winner Sally Kipyego will also double in London like Cheruiyot with All Africa Games silver winner Joyce Chepkirui and Beijing Olympics finalist Viola Kibiwott will partner the pair in the longer and shorter distances in that order. “I believe we have a strong team, the strongest ever that will go to London and repeat what we did in Korea,” the double world gold medallist stated in reference to the 1-2-3 and 1-2 finishes Kenyans recorded in 10,000m and 5,000m finals at the Worlds. “I’m happy that this Trials are over and I can now focus on the next step and that is preparing myself to give my best,” Cheruiyot added.

By BARNABA KORIR

LET THE GAMES BEGIN

E

xcitement is peaking as athletes and officials stream into the Olympic Village ahead of the London Games. But first before we start the countdown, let’s first understand what this event is all about. The French say it is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in various events. In a nutshell though the Olympic Games are considered to be the world’s foremost and prestigious sporting competition held biennially. Originally, the ancient Olympics were held in Olympia, Greece, between the 8th BC and 4th AD. It is prestigious because an athlete can have all the world titles in his or her cabinet but without the Olympics crown, then he or she will never be satisfied. It is every athlete’s dream to qualify for the Olympics leave alone standing on the podium for the medal. Let me give an example of a renowned athlete who made it big in the world stage by even winning world cross-country five times, but he was not content with that feat after failing to bag an Olympic medal. Paul Tergat who founded the Sports of the Year Awards (Soya) and many others including me had dreamt of Olympic an medal but in all vain. Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is not taking chances on the Games as it works with the World AntiDoping Agency (WADA). This I am quick to say is because of the news that hit world in May this year from a German TV saying that Kenyan athletes are using drugs. It was very unfortunate, untimely and unanticipated. In my own opinion, the

malicious report on Kenya was a disgruntled effort by jittery opponents who have failed to beat Kenyans in past championships. Nonetheless reports from London show that doping Laboratories are now bracing to conduct some over 6,000 tests. This will be biggest anti-doping operation in the history of the Olympics with half of the competitors being tested including every medalist at both the Olympics and Paralympics. England is now burning the midnight oil and many areas with the bigger door Heathrow Airport expecting its busiest time on record and in the main route out — the M4 — the priority “Games Lane” is up and running. Thed airport is expecting expanded logistics to process as many as 236,955 passengers before the final day, which would surpass its previous record of 233,562 set on July 31 last year. The enthusiasm expected here is tantamount with over 335 competitors anticipated just before the games start, as part of 1,027 so-called “Games Family” arrivals (athletes and coaches) from more than 50 countries. Heathrow operator BAA expects the busiest weeks for arriving athletes to hit the mark proper by July 27. But it will be interesting to also note the biggest hitch that has faced the organisers in London like any other place in the world is security. Police have had to deploy extra

officers from eight UK forces at short notice to help with security work for London 2012. This security errand followed the news that 3,500 troops had been drafted in to plug gaps after private security firm G4S failed to recruit enough guards for the Games. The most important thing I appreciate about this Olympics is the positive announcement by the IOC that the negotiations between the Lausanne-based organisation and the Saudia Arabia sports chief had been successful. Let me applaud these two momentous women for Saudi Arabia Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani (judo) and Sarah Attar (800m). For Team Kenya, preparation for London has been relatively smooth and squads have been broken into two contingents. The first patch of short and middle distance trained in Bristol and the last one comprising of the long distance runners decided to train in the country. This arrangement was an effort by the team handlers to ensure that Team Kenya is well prepared to take on the world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ................................................................ Barnabas Korir is a former athlete and country manager for Golazo Sports, an Athletes Representative firm based in Belgium.

|21


FOCUS ON JELIMO

FEATURE - PAMELA JELIMO

JELIMO RE-LOADED ‘Kapsabet Express’ reignites her engine after three-year stall

F

By CHRIS MUSUMBA

rom obscurity of the backwater Kiptamuk hamlet, Koyo at the heart of the Kenyan Rift Valley to an Olympic champion in 2008, Pamela Jelimo epitomises the dramatic change of fortune some athletes endure in their short careers on the

track. Jelimo stormed to the world scene in 2008 at the Africa Athletics Championships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and went on to claim the Olympics title, a world junior record of 1:54.01 and won the IAAF Golden league jackpot worth $1 million all in one season. That exerted pressure on the then 18-year-old and her worn out body gave way to a series of tormenting times starting with an ankle injury that nagged her for three years. Many predicted doom saying the ‘Kapsabet Express’ was drunk from the sudden fame and millions that she minted from the European circuit on her dream debut season. But after numerous false starts, the World Indoor 800m champion has finally come out from her shell to re-load a promising career that plummeted from grace to grass in a

22|

span of three seasons. With her head on the chin, Jelimo faced a mental battle as her name was soiled as the ‘Kapsabet Express’ stalled on the track as she earned the unkind moniker of Did Not Finish (DNF) from her detractors. Aspersions were also tossed on her abrupt rise with critics convinced her performances were fuelled by outlawed substances although such claims only surfaced in rogue websites. In her moment of turmoil, Jelimo’s refuge came from the family and management team, Golazo Sports. “They saw the potential in me. They knew me. They believed in my coming back. Outside, nobody gave me a chance, but they stood by my side. They were with me in the hardest of times and forever I will be indebted to them,” Jelimo wistfully divulged. The mocking among her peers and neighbours who accused her of being aloof once she hit the jackpot was too much for her to bear, compelling her to seek an alternative training ground. “I was forced to get out of Kapsabet and came to Ngong to train. The altitude is almost similar to that in Kapsabet and the weather is okay.

NOTE WORTHY

DID YOU KNOW ...................... That if Jelimo wins in London she will be the first woman ever to win two gold in 800m?

“It has given me a fresh start and as I seek to get my career back on track, I must focus and give it everything I have,” she explained the painstaking process of rediscovering the form that made her the most feared female 800m runner. Jelimo’s career was partly blighted by a knee injury and burn out following her annus mirabilis. This drained her energies and she lost interest in the sport. Her attitude changed as her future in athletics dimmed. “I made several false starts. Every time something came up and my injury recurred. I had to go back to see the doctors and physiotherapists in Nairobi and Brussels. “I went back to the rehabilitation. I could see my friends run and win abroad yet I was seated there with little hope of ever running at the top again. It was the worst moment in my career. I was all alone in this fight.” That saw her pull out of the semi

finals of the World Championships in Berlin with a knee injury in what was the first announcement to the globe that the ‘Kapsabet Express’ had ran out of steam. Images of Jelimo being carted off the blue tartan track sat on a stretcher on the Olympiastadion big screens led to gasps from the crowd. Her season turned to worse in 2010 where only a second finishes at Colorful Daegu and the low profile Anhalt meets provided a highlight as she tailed the field at the Shanghai and Pre Fontaine Diamond League races. Toss in a couple of DNFs at Hengelo and National Championships and the nightmare was complete as she missed the defence of her African crown in her home city of Nairobi. Last season, another aching DNF at the Pre Fontaine Classic on June 4 was enough to convince Jelimo she needed time off to

overhaul her engine. She returned to action at a local meeting in Nairobi in November 2011, opting to run in the 4x400m relay race doing 53.01 in her lap. At that time her management Golazo brought in American Arizona State collegiate athlete, Ben Englehardt to aid in her recovery effort and the partnership jumpstarted the ‘Kapsabet Express’ engine. Her Olympic year season was flagged off by disqualification over the longer 1500m at her Indoor racing debut in Dusseldorf, Germany in February. Jelimo was disqualified for running in the inside lane a stride too soon but her time of 4:07 at the end was soothing to her management. In reality, that disqualification did not hinder Jelimo from her ultimate target of getting back to the top level. In fact it

|23


PAMELA FOCUS ON JELIMO JELIMO

OLYMPIC

inspired her. She picked up the pieces, dusted herself up and headed to Lievin, France where she competed in the 800m distance and though she did not win — coming second in 1:59.10 — she showed the hunger, determination and courage that has been missing in her career ever since she ascended to the top in Beijing 2008. That also earned a ticket to the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Turkey. She knew it was to be her redemption event and she seized the chance to silence her critics. In Istanbul, Jelimo emerged from the final bend stronger and wend on to win gold in 1:57.89, the first for Kenyan woman in at the premier closed circuit event. Jelimo opened her Diamond League campaign and picked up the top spot in Doha, Qatar on May 5 when she blasted to a world leading 1:56.74 before winning the Ostrava Golden Spike in Czech Republic in a credible 1:58.49. This performance proved her stature as the athlete to beat this year as the count down to the Olympics picks up momentum. In May, Ethiopian rising sensation, Fantu Magiso, who had shadowed Jelimo in Istanbul and Doha, claimed the scalp of the Olympics champion at the Rome Golden Gala where she set her nation’s women twolap record of 1:57.56. The defeat stung Team Jelimo into restrategise as the London Olympics loomed, with emphasis placed on speed workouts beginning at the Kenya Championships where she climbed down to 400m with a 52.14 PB victory. “I intended to work on my speed. I lost in Rome not because my sprint was poor, but because of a tactical error. I believe I stayed with the crowd until too late. “So that is why I needed to work on my speed and the national championships were a good opportunity to rectify that,” she said. True to her words, Jelimo showed her class at the London Trials when she returned to her speciality, laying the hammer down for a crushing 1:58.48 performance where she tore away from the challengers to book a front seat to her title defence. Her chief domestic rival and Olympic silver medallist Janeth Jepkosgei could only afford third slot behind Winnie Chebet with

24|

MEDALLIST IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER MEN GOLD

OLYMPIC

MEDALLIST IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER MEN SILVER

Reuben Kosgei (3000 m steeplechase)

MEXICO CITY 1968

SEOUL 1988

Kipchoge Keino (1500m) Naftali Temu (10000m) Amos Biwott (3000m steeplechase)

John Ngugi (5000 m) Paul Ereng (800 m)

ATHENS 2004

BARCELONA 1992

MUNICH 1972

Matthew Birir (3000 m steeplechase) William Tanui (800m)

BEIJING 2008

Kipchoge Keino (3000m steeplechase) Charles Asati, Munyoro Nyamau, Robert Ouko, Julius Sang (4X400m)

Ezekiel Kemboi (3000 m steeplechase)

ATLANTA 1996

Joseph Keter (3000 m steeplechase)

LOS ANGELES 1984

SYDNEY 2000

MEXICO CITY 1968

Douglas Wakiihuri (Marathon)

Julius Korir (3000m steeplechase)

Asbel Kipruto Kiprop (1500 m) Brimin Kiprop Kipruto (3000 m steeplechase) Wilfred Bungei (800 m) Samuel Wanjiru (Marathon)

Noah Ngeny (1500 m) Wilson Boit Kipketer (3000 m steeplechase) Erick Wainaina (Marathon)

Wilson Kiprugut (800m) Kipchoge Keino (5000m) Benjamin Kogo (3000m steeplechase) Daniel Rudisha, Munyoro Ngamau, Naftali Bon, Charles Asati (4X400m relay)

BARCELONA 1992

MUNICH 1972

Kipchoge Keino (1500m) Ben Jipcho (3000m steeplechase)

Paul Tergat (10000 m) Moses Kiptanui (3000 m steeplechase) Paul Bitok (5000 m)

SEOUL 1988

SYDNEY 2000

Peter Koech (3000 m steeplechase)

Nixon Kiprotich (800 m) Paul Bitok (5000 m) Richard Chelimo (10000 m) Patrick Sang (3000 m steeplechase)

ATLANTA 1996

ATHENS 2004

Bernard Lagat (1500 m) Brimin Kipruto (3000 m steeplechase)

BEIJING 2006

Eliud Kipchoge (5000 m) Richard Kipkemboi Mateelong (3000 m steeplechase)

Paul Tergat (10000 m)

Continued on page 40...

pair selected to join Jelimo in the big battle. She holds the women 800m at London no grudges and has the 2012. confidence to beat anyone I run my own “I am happy the race after a three-year absence. race and from went well. But it was too “I feel great just like slow for my liking. This is I did three years ago and that I believe about Olympics and we have going to London as the I will be able to improve on that. The first Olympic champion is a to do well in hurdle is cleared now and the statement that I intend focus is on the London games. to do business. There is London as I did “I am in good shape, and only one thing on my in Beijing. The so are the other athletes. The mind though, win gold,” challenge will be to beat them. she said. world record is But I run my own race and “There is no one not in my mind from that I believe I will be athlete whom I can say at the moment able to do well in London as concerns me. Everyone I did in Beijing. The world will be in London eyeing record is not in my mind at to win and I will take the moment,” the Beijing my place on the podium champion asserted after her because I just run my race performance. and this time I feel great,” said Jelimo. Out to stop Jelimo’s planned ascendancy For Jelimo it is easy to turn off too early to the top in London will be 2009 World and find yourself off the contest in an athlete’s Champion Caster Semenya (South Africa), career. Jelimo believes she made the right American Alysia Johnson Montano along turn, though. with reigning Worlds winner Mariya Instead of fretting over her opponents and Savinova (Russia) and Magiso. injuries, she is sitting on the driving seat for But Jelimo has declared she’s ready for the challenge for the 800m gold for Kenya.

- Africana Books

- Office & School Stationery Branches:

Kijabe Street

Sarit Centre - Westlands

Galleria Mall - Langata

Junction Mall - Ngong Road

Holden Mall - Kakamega

P.O.Box 47540, 00100 Nairobi, Kenya tel : +254(20) 310699-704 mob : 0722 560580, 0733 699991 e-mail : admin@tbc.co.ke

...Much more than a bookshop.


FOCUS ON KEMBOI

By TKR REPORTER

YANO POWER EZEKIEL KEMBOI READY TO PUNCH HIS WAY TO HISTORY

I

n the last issue of this magazine, our writer argued Ezekiel Kemboi Yano can easily be described as the best steeplechaser of all time. Victory at the London Olympics will go a long way to erase any lingering doubts since he will be the first man to hold two Olympic titles- a feat never achieved before- with Beijing champion, Brimin Kipruto, the principle threat to his ambition. His winning performances at the last two World Championships in Berlin and Daegu having won silver at the Paris, Helsinki and Osaka editions placed him as the form runner in the water and barriers race. The headline-loving Athens Olympics gold medallist, Ezekiel Kemboi, however, has seen his preparations for London overshadowed by the potentially damaging criminal assault charges that

relate to an incident in Eldoret four days after the June 23 Trials where he punched his London ticket by finishing second to Kipruto. Kemboi was involved in a publicity blitz he would never have wished when reports filtered through he had been accused of stabbing a woman. Donned in a hood top in a packed Eldoret court, Kemboi afforded his trademark smile as charges were read to him on the dock as his Olympics hopes seemed destined to be buried. On the verge of crafting history as the first steeplechaser to win the Olympics steeplechase top medal after his title defence in Beijing ended in a lowly seventh finish, Kemboi was accused of assaulting a 26-year-old restaurant owner, Ann Njeri Otieno on the night of June 27. “I’m a patriot and I love representing

I’m a patriot and I love representing my country and as a police officer, I would not do what I’ve been accused off.

26|

my country and as a police officer, I would not do what I’ve been accused off. The speed that I was charged with without being given a chance to state my case is not correct,” the 32-year-old star said in his defence. A day later, the National Olympics Committee of Kenya (Nock) confirmed Kemboi, who had since then joined Team Kenya’s training camp in Nairobi would be travelling to London despite the probable damage his presence would prove for the Kenyan Team. Hosted in a land that is not tolerant to anyone convicted or accused of criminal activity, pressure from the vocal British press that would be only too eager to milk his case was brought to the attention of Team Kenya officials. “Kemboi has assured us he will handle the pressure that comes with it. He was not in violation of the Olympics Charter and under our constitution; he is innocent until proven guilty. “We will protect him as far as participation in the London Olympics is concerned but beyond that, he is responsible for his actions like everyone else. He qualified for London by merit and we cannot deny him the chance to compete over allegations,” CEO, Stephen Soi said. Having been on the scene since 2001, news that Kemboi was caught up in an

FEATURE - EZEKIEL KEMBOI YANO

|27


LONDON 2012 NEW KIDS

assault that left the said victim admitted in hospital shocked many of his followers as social media went into overdrive as the details hit local and international media outlets. It echoed the last months of the late Olympics marathon champion, Samuel Wanjiru, who was dogged with gun possession charges that stood until his May 15, 2011 demise as well as assault claims against his spouse Trizah Njeri and security guard that were eventually dropped. But unlike Kemboi, Wanjiru did not have non validated entry to the UK meaning he could not travel for last year’s London Marathon but with IOC accreditation, the steeplechase ace is entitled to visa waiver. With the drama now behind him until September when the case will be heard, Kemboi can now focus on charging to history in London if he can overcome

28|

the mental upheaval generated by charges facing him. “I feel so great to be in my third Olympics and after fulfilling my first agenda, I will go to start planning for the second which is performing my best in London,” Kemboi enthused after finishing a well acclaimed lap of honour when he sealed his Olympics ticket on June 23. Ever the show pony Kemboi thrilled the supporters at Nyayo by re-enacting his ‘Pamela Chepchumba’ dance he wowed the Daegu Stadium last year when he retained his world title and threw in a mimic of the Usain Bolt ‘Arrow’ celebration. That was the latest in a long line of eccentric celebrations that have endeared the entertainer and gifted athlete to the

masses. After winning the Beijing Trials, he hurled himself prostate on the Nyayo National Stadium tartan, risking injury but to comical effect. In Berlin, he toasted his maiden World title by taking silver winner and compatriot Richard Mateelong to a run around Olympiastadion while skipping over the hurdles. Volunteer staff halted removing them from the track until the pair was through with the unique act that was well received when transmitted at the stadium’s big screens. Kemboi is also a source of memorable sound bytes that draws journalists to him like a moth to light. Priceless gems include, “If I don’t win gold, I will never come back to Kenya,” in the run-up to his failed Beijing title defence

or, “I have used plan A, B and C before so today, I used plan Z,” in reference to his stunning sprint on the back straight that won him the world title in Daegu at the expense of Olympics champion Brimin Kipruto who is renowned for a superior homestretch flying finish. When asked about his strategy for London having exhausted all the schemes in the alphabet, the runner mused, “That is why we have moved to agendas. Agenda 1 is done and now we are on Agenda 2.” Despite his crowning nature, his abilities as a steeplechaser are made of stuff that is no laughing matter and on his day, he can trump the best. “I had stomach problems and it cost me as I became number 7. In London, I’m going to watch on my diet especially during the competition period and as for my training, I’m going to do my best in London,” he reflected on his Beijing failure. Soon afterwards, Kemboi was off to the controversial Bristol training camp as he sought to clear his head from the adverse attention his court drama had caused him but a week later, he was back to the country. “He did not find a suitable place to do his long runs and there was only a track available in Bristol and that is why we decided to send him back,” Team Kenya officials said. Whether the razzmatazz that has clouded his preparations will have any negative bearing to his date with destiny remains to be seen. Kemboi is a reputed fighter and besides taking on a quality field in London, he also has personal DID YOU KNOW demons to ...................... contend with. That if “I have Kemboi wins already fulfilled in London Agenda 1, he will be qualifying for the first the Olympics. holder of two Now, I’m going steeplechase to Agenda 2, to Olympic win the title,” he gold?. quipped smug as usual.

Note worthy

NEW KIDS ON THE

...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................................................................

BLOCK Debutants keen to make a mark

T

-- By Chris Musumba

he arrival of each new sensation prompts a rummage through the roots of the competitor’s history – a fascination of what has gone into the making of the fresh arrival at the big

stage. At London Olympics, several newbies in Team Kenya ranks will be keen to prove they are no longer upstarts punching above their weight. Kenya will be parading their latest set of emerging distance running stars off the country’s rich production line with high hopes that they will curve a niche for themselves by adding to the medal tally. But they will not find it easy to prevail in a competition viewed as the ultimate stage to gauge precision and success in sport. Their entry among the ranks of one of the most revered nation in track and field dovetails perfectly with the sense of anticipation for London 2012 where talented youngsters are challenging the empire. Feared names like sprinters Usain Bolt (Jamaica) and Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) who ruled the roost in Beijing four years ago have a battle on their hands to fend off charged newcomers seeking their prized scalp to ascend to the pedestal. World champion, Yohan Blake (Jamaica), Mo

Farah (Britain) and Ibrahim Jeilan (Ethiopia) are among a plethora sizzling talent that have taken on the established order with success in the past season. But the worldwide reaction to the change of equation on the global front has prompted a reassessment. Only now has it sunk in what it means to have punctured the aura of invincibility enveloping established icons like Bolt and Bekele. Having watched with interest how their mentors have dominated, the young generation of Kenyan athletes heading to London has a reason to believe. Helen Obiri, Eunice Sum, Faith Chepng’etich, Timothy Kitum, Andrew Chemut, Alphas Kishoiyan and Isaiah Kiplangat have all blossomed this season to earn the coveted right of donning the red, green and black strip. While four years ago in Beijing, the budding stars of Kenya athletics were too young to represent the country at the Games, they were old enough to witness the likes of Nancy Jebet Lagat, stun the opposition to win the 1500m gold. Then dubbed, the lone wolf in a pride of lionesses, Lagat proved she had the teeth to bite and became the second woman after Pamela Jelimo to clinch a female track Olympic gold medal for Kenya.

...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................................................................

|29


...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... LONDON 2012 NEW KIDS ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................................................................

Metric rise of Obiri Lagat will not be in London to defend her crown. Instead her understudy Obiri, a colleague in the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) stationed in Embakasi Garrison will be the girl to carry her nation’s flag. Obiri epitomises the hunger among upcoming athletes in Kenya having made her debut on the international scene last year when she qualified for the World Championships in the explosive 1500m. Fate was, however, not on her side as she was tripped in the finals. “That is done. I was frustrated and now am more experienced and will be running in the outer lane so that I will not be tripped again,” she said.

30|

That blip in her young career was a springboard she used to catapult her to gold at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Turkey. She rose to the occasion to deny Ethiopian Meseret Defer the historic fourth indoor title in 3000m race. That show helped Obiri, 22, to endorse herself as a serious contender for gold in London, albeit in the four-lap race. Obiri, a late bloomer, did not start running until after she completed her formal education in 2006. Her first race was in 2007 where she competed in a local track meeting in her hometown in Kisii in the 200m event.

A year later, she joined the KDF and used the rigorous military training as part of her exercise and when she graduated in 2009, she had her focus fully on athletics. She struggled to create a niche in the chocking track and field career juggling from 200m to 5000m before she settled on the 1500m where under the tutelage of Sydney Olympics metric mile champion, Noah Ngeny, she went on to win the national championships last year, beating Jebet Lagat. “I never knew that I had talent until very late. So that denied me the chance to run in the youth and junior category. But after joining the army, I got myself a coach and from there everything turned for the better. “Today, I have a definite training plan, which I have to accomplish and hopefully, be back to my best form for London,” said declared. She has a personal best time of 4:02.42, which she set in Brussels last September. “I want to run under the four minute mark. That is my target and with good preparation I will achieve it. There will be many athletes in London who will help me attain this mark,” she stressed. Among Obiri’s challengers will be World Indoor 1500m champion Genzebe Dibaba, Russia’s Ekaterina Gorbunova, Bahrain’s Maryam Yusuf Jamal, Mariem Alaoui Selsouli of Morocco and Ethiopia’s Kalkidan Gezahegne. “This year has been a revelation to me and I see no point of failure. I will succeed in London,” she said.

Chepng’etich nails it early

For World and Africa Cross country 6km champion Faith Chepng’etich, competing at the Olympics will be secondary to her big target that is to clinch gold in Barcelona during the World Junior Championships. Chepng’etich, won 1500m gold in Moncton, Canada in 2010, and has risen through the ranks as the true heir apparent to the throne that Lagat has vacated in the fourlap race. The 18-year-old led the 24-member Kenya team to Barcelona, (July 10-15) and later linked up with the big girls in London for the Olympics. “I feel I am in great shape. It was not easy to run and win here at the Kenya trials, which I believe is much difficult than the World Championships. “I have passed that test and now the focus is on winning two gold medals for Kenya in Barcelona and London. “I do not care what the Ethiopians or any other country have or how they are plotting to stop me. I look at my own

strength, training and tactics and I believe I have the energy to win both events,” she determined. She was included in the London line-up after mixing it with the senior during the July 23 Olympics Trials where she gamely finished third. Athletics Kenya named her purposely to give her an early exposure on the grand stage as a future hope and in a bid to encourage other talented age runners opportunities abound for them. “We have her in the team so that she can continue learning in the sport. We do not feel that she is too young to compete in London since she has done well in Moncton, Lille and Punta Umbria where she was on the international stage,” AK secretary, David Okeyo said. Pinning medal hopes on the youngster is not realistic at the time but with doubtless talent she possesses, she could well be in line of making seismic impact in London.

Kitum shadows Rudisha

And with Olympic champion Wilfred Bungei, enjoying his retirement as a pundit for satellite Pay TV providers SuperSport, a new sensation Timothy Kitum is ready to step up and seek his space in the crowded 800m distance. The World Youth Championships 800m bronze medallist and Commonwealth Youth Games titleholder has been taunted as the heir apparent to David Rudisha who at only 23, is being considered as a potential two-lap legend. Having run 1:46.8 for a fifth finish at the Stockholm Indoor meeting early this year, Kitum rewarded the coaches with a silver medal at Barcelona World Juniors before checking for an Olympics debut. “I have been picked through the wild card (for Barcelona). I was not feeling well and that is why I had trouble running in the junior trials. But I hope to be in my best form by the time we run in Barcelona. “After that the focus will be to follow Rudisha through the steps in London and sweep the podium,” he said. Well he proved his statement during the trials for the Olympics as he followed the world record holder home in 1:43.94, a career bests as well as an outrageous mark at punishing elevation of Nairobi. Only a more insane high altitude record of 1:42.12 raced by Rudisha stole the thunder from the resounding exhibition of running Kitum put together during the selection event. Having nicked ahead in the pecking order of 800m talent in Kenya when he overshadowed World Youth record holder, Leonard Konsencha, everyone better sit up and take notice of soft spoken running power pack that is Kitum.

|31


‘Chairman’ Kiplangat in charge

Talking of pressure, there is no latent talent in Team Kenya set-up who carries a heavier weight of expectation like the ‘Chairman’ Isaiah Koech Kiplangat. Kiplangat has easily taken over the big title of ‘Chairman’ ever since he broke to the global stage in 2009 in Italy during the World Youth Championships to reign over the 3000m distance in 7:51.51, a championship record. The 18-year-old has since evolved and is Kenya’s biggest hope in men 5000m having blown away the competition at the selection event in a soil record of 13:09.80 having won his semis in another 13:24.1 blast in high altitude two days before. While other newcomers to Team Kenya have the shield of experience ahead of them, Kiplangat set out to plant himself ahead of the queue. Daegu Worlds finalist, Thomas Longosiwa, who was 12th in Beijing and

MICHAEL BOWEN Edwin Soi, the Olympics bronze winner had the privilege of sharing the podium with the young star and will be his ‘understudies’ in London. With Olympics silver winner, Eliud Kipchoge, being buried in the ferocious race for London tickets coupled with the unpredictability of Longosiwa and Soi at major events, Kenya will be looking at Kiplangat to face on the might of the likes of Farah, Bekele, American Bernard Lagat and Jeilan. Kiplangat, nicknamed in parody of AK boss Isaiah Kiplagat, much as he detests that moniker is definitely one of the sensations in the 12 and a half-lap race this season. He posted a phenomenal 12:57.63, the second on the world lists this year to finish second to Farah in Eugene, US (12:56.98) Oregon. “I can hardly believe what is happening to me. I prepared well and had a lot of practice. Now I’m competing at the highest level. I was impressed running alongside Kipchoge, who is a monument of distance running. “It was tough and maybe I felt a bit tired. Now after making the Kenya team, I can only aim for the highest level and set my sights at the Olympics Games in London,” he magnanimously offered.

The Farmer’s One Stop Shop in East Africa. Suppliers of high performance agricultural tractors &

Contact: Head Office: Nakuru Tel: +254 51 221 1855 Fax: +254 51 221 4036 Email: sales@fmdea.com Branches:Nairobi, Eldoret, Nanyuki, Mombasa, Arusha, Kampala

MAKING ATHLETES FEEL AT HOME Chamgei FM reporter Bowen has made it easy for runners to communicate freely By MICHAEL BOWEN

His name might not ring a bell with most but Michael Bowen has established himself as one of a kind reporter. Many journalists covering local athletes have stood in awe as the light skinned Chamgei FM radio reporter approaches the runners and proceeds to engage them in vernacular and needless to say, it does not take long for his interviewees to burst out laughing. It was no different at last year’s World Championships in Daegu, South Korea where majority of Team Kenya runners who hail from the Rift Valley were only too glad to give Bowen their first interviews after the race to the chagrin of international press. TKR picks up his story as narrated by the man who has cut his niche in reporting. Working as a vernacular Radio Journalist has been the last thing a career trained journalist would like to do. Going through the rigorous training of handling the media worlds’ ups and down is not an easy job. One is taught how to articulate issues in national languages of their respective countries and understanding one’s local tongue is just an added advantage. Kenya is among African countries that have various multi-ethnic dialects and none of them is taught in school as primary language leaving one to learn through natural environment in rural areas. Fluency of the local language is a pipe dream in cosmopolitan urban centres and this is why most radio journalist working in regional or vernacular stations are rural based. A dream of every trained journalist in Kenya is to work in a top media organisation

Continued on page 37...

|33


FOCUS ON KIPROP

FEATURE - ASBEL KIPROP

GOLDEN WISH

Beijing champ Asbel Kiprop out to deliver Olympic gold on the track By JAMES WOKABI

I

t is hard to believe that Asbel Kiprop is ‘only’ 23 old having been in or around the top of men 1500m running for the better part of the last five years. In that period, the leggy Kiprop who announced his arrival on the grand stage in 2007 when he won the junior 8km World Cross Country gold in Mombasa has added the All Africa Games (2007), Olympics (2008), African (2010) and World (2011) men 1500m titles to his impressive collection. While for most athletes that would be enough to send them to a glorified sunset, Kiprop believes his reign as the most decorated metric miler since the retired Moroccan legend, Hicham El Guerrouj is just starting. At the London Olympics, he is not only going to defend his title but to fulfil a cherished desire, crossing the line unchallenged after his Beijing triumph was shrouded in the drug-bust that saw Bahrain runner, Rashid Ramzy, who dipped ahead of his stripped of his title. Having stuttered to fulfil his immense potential in the four and a half-lap race that manifested itself at the Algiers Pan Africa Games in 2007, with failed bids for the top medal at the Osaka and Berlin Worlds springing to mind, Kiprop has mastered the art of timing his race to perfection at recent championships. “Every medal I win get’s me motivated to better my hero, El Guerrouj. I want to be like the person, he was tough in the mind, tough in 1500m, tough in the Mile, tough in 2K.

34|

“He is unbelievable; he won two gold medals at the 2004 Olympics Games. I’m looking forward to start running the double at the 2013 World Championships; I Kiprop is will be doing both out to be 800m and 1500m,” the second the simultaneous runner holder of the after lord African, world Seb Coe to and Olympic titles retain the asserted on his Olympic immediate and long 1500m term goals. title. “Receiving the Olympics gold medal at home in Nairobi last year was exciting and makes me special to some extent since I got the first Olympics gold medal in Africa. I have never heard it happen elsewhere. “But just like in Korea, I want to win it on the track and hear the national anthem played at the stadium and although competition will be tough, I believe I can do it,” he underscored his aim for London. The former Kaptinga Secondary School who stands at 6’ 2” however, faces the biggest battle to reign supreme over a race that is known to show scant respect for former

NOTE WORTHY

winners noting that only Lord Sebastian Coe (1980 and 1984), the chairman of London 2012 Organising Committee has ever held on to the metric mile Olympics crown. Until last year’s Trials for the Daegu, Kiprop had not tasted defeat at home soil for over three years. Commonwealth champion, Silas Kiplagat, snapped that proud record in spectacular fashion as he upset the reigning national champion. Kiplagat showed a devastating turn of pace to blast to a soil record of 3:31.39 and the mark would have been more astronomical had he not turned back in the last 50m to taunt Kiprop who came home in 3:32.26 for second. The Olympics champion was clearly stung by the defeat and this compelled him to put his act together for what turned to be a successful outing at the Worlds in South Korea. “I was surprised, Silas never won in the heats, in the semis he hid himself and I had won everything in the heats and semis. I was thinking of Nixon Chepseba and in the last 300m but when I looked, he was gone and he came as a surprise. “Silas winning the Trials kept me from a lot of attention. I watched his interview on YouTube where he said that when he kicks from 300m, I will not get him as opposed to if I kick from 100m so at the World Championships, I was very keen in the last 300m and reacted to him and that is how I won.”

|35


FOCUS ON KIPROP ...Continued from page 33 at Nyayo National Stadium who held he was gambling with selection. “This is one of the best Trials in the world and we all qualified with A-standard for Olympics. There was traffic all the way since all athletes were running in one group and I managed to secure position three and make the team and I’m happy,” he said after his heart in the mouth performance. “For London, I want to train hard to have good speed, get focus physically and emotionally to get ready for winning the gold. Winning the trials here means you carry a lot of pressure and carry all the Kenyans hopes on your shoulder, finishing third means no one cares about you. “In 2007, I won the Trials here and finished fourth in Osaka, in 2008, I finished second behind Augustine Choge and I secured gold in Beijing. In 2009, I won and finished fourth in Berlin and last year, I finished second and I went on to deliver gold,” he clarified further. Alongside Kiplagat and Chepseba in the Kenyan team, the country is taking a 1500m squad that has all dipped under 3:30 this season, a standard that places them as the favourite for the sweep. “We look forward to delivering since we have sent a message to the world that the top three are representing Kenya. We are likely to win the Olympic medals, it is possible to complete the podium, we are going to run as a team,” Kiprop stressed. He assured he would not risk running from behind in London saying, “It is impossible to catch up with the 3:29 guys when they are ahead of you with 300m to go.” By running his career best 3:29.78 at the opening Samsung Diamond League meeting in Doha in May, Kiprop achieved another of his career targets that had eluded him for five seasons but that is secondary to his main objective. “To speak the truth, my main target since I received the news of Ramzy is to win the gold on the track. I cannot promise that for certain but I will do my all.” Kiprop, who choose 1500m running to out-perform his father David Kebenei who finished fourth in the All Africa Games in1987 now stands as one of the country’s biggest hopes of winning another coveted Olympics title.

This is one of the best Trials in the world and we all qualified with A-standard for Olympics. Kiprop, who despite winning the World junior title in 2007 does not enjoy cross country running, laid out his credentials in January when he topped an imposing field for the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross title. In the process, he handed Ethiopia’s great, Kenenisa Bekele only his third cross country defeat. “In 2008, I raced in the cross country circuit here in Kenya and I performed well at the Olympics. I applied the same tactics this year ahead of my title defence and I’m hoping the results will be the same,” he elaborated. At the London Trials, Kiprop finished third behind Kiplagat and Chepseba in a performance that did not thrill most gathered

36|

that packages its products in either English or Swahili, the constitutionally entrenched national languages. Those who work for regional or vernacular outlets are viewed as second class journalists or rejects from established national media houses. My career in journalism began after finishing my O-Levels when I enrolled in a Communications College in Nairobi before completing my undergraduate programme in Communications and Journalism at Moi University. I developed interest in journalism during my high school days and armed with the skill I harnessed from my tertiary training, I was able to establish a foothold in a cherished career. My first engagement after college was as a Citizen Radio and TV correspondent based in the then larger Kericho, Bomet and Bureti districts where my task was to report news in English and Swahili in the area. My worst moments at the time came when I was reporting the 2005 referendum on the Draft Constitution that the Kalenjin community I was serving rejected, but I developed keen interest in reporting sports there since the region is the hub of prominent athletes. Then, Chamgei FM a station

first program I came up with was a sports show that did not evoke interest among the station’s top brass who advocated for continuity programmes but I persuaded the Head of Radio to convince the marketing department to explore the option of selling my idea. My target was athletics, a sport that is at the very heart of the Kalenjin community and as the station rolled out to the target area, a number of meets were organised in Eldoret and Kericho and this is where I seized my chance to make an impact. As I took to reporting live with zeal, the runners soon christened me Bowen Nambaritab tisab en Batai (jersey number nine) as the rapport grew between me and the runners who relished expressing themselves in a language they were most comfortable with. My brief included live reporting at various track and field events crosses country and marathon within the country’s borders earning me a lot of credit and recognition within the athletics fraternity. As the saying goes, hard work never goes unrewarded and RMS recognised the need to send Chamgei FM to do live reporting outside the country after realising the comfort runners derived from speaking in their native language.

THOSE WHO WORK FOR REGIONAL OR VERNACULAR OUTLETS ARE VIEWED AS SECOND CLASS JOURNALISTS OR REJECTS FROM ESTABLISHED NATIONAL MEDIA HOUSES. broadcasting in Kalenjin under the Royal Media Services (RMS) stable who own Citizen TV and Radio was a few months old and amazingly, no one was covering sports news. My scripts were usually broadcast by the mother Citizen Radio where Sports Editor, Torome Tirike, nurtured my interest in sports and when RMS advertised for positions at the upstart Chamgei FM, I was fortunate to land a position as a presenter after going through gruelling interviews. I joined the station in 2006 and the

My first international assignment was to report for Chamgei FM at the 2010 World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland but after placing the request to senior management, I waited anxiously for a response. When the call came through that I was required at the Editorial Directors’ office it sent a shiver down my spine since summons to the high office usually mean disciplinary action or termination of employment. But to my relief, I was included among the Citizen TV crew that was selected to

travel to Poland as my dream of flying out for my first foreign job came to pass. My flight from Nairobi to Schipol International Airport in Amsterdam before landing in Warsaw and taking the journey to Bydgoszcz could not dampen the spirits I had. Poland was the beginning of the good working relationship between Chamgei FM, Kenyan runners and their managing body Athletics Kenya and that opportunity that gave me a lot of encouragement to work for my station. During the World Cross, I did four links a day due to the growing demand as the athletes were itching to send shout-outs back home making them feel connected to their families despite the enormous distance between them. Changei FM was not the only RMS vernacular platform that benefited from this unique way of reporting. Runners from other communities joined in the act to convey their stories and messages to their beloved families through stations such as Inooro FM (Kikuyu), Egesa FM (Gusii) and Musyi FM (Kamba) among others and RMS linked their messages to the relevant station, another ground breaking achievement for me. In my trade, I have never seen an athlete fail to be free and comfortable in sharing his or her feelings as well as experiences when they speak in their local language. Here the fear of making mistakes takes a back seat, no wonder when they see a camera they freeze and some even turn down television interviews since they feel inadequate. Working for Chamgei has given me an opportunity to tour the world, something I did not think it would be possible when I set out on a journalism career. After Poland, I travelled to the 2011 Africa Cross Country Championships in Cape Town, South Africa and Daegu World Championships in South Korea. In Daegu, Kenyan born runners such as Bernard Lagat of USA and others from Bahrain and neighbouring Uganda made my day when they turned to Kalenjin to express their stories in what was a high point of my career! All I can say in conclusion for those aspiring to join this fast growing field is that determination, hard work and passion for the job eventually pays.

|37


INTERNATIONAL STARS OF 2011

By JAMES WOKABI

THE KEY BATTLES TO WATCH OUT FOR Leshawn Merritt vs Kirani James

Over the last two years, Botswana’s Amantle Montsho has been on a one woman mission to write the country’s name in history books with a series of record breaking performances. A World title, African, All Africa Games and Commonwealth Games gold medals have seen her move to the high table of the one lap race. With an almost complete set of medals, Montsho goes into London in search of the only medal missing from her collection. But to win it, she will have to contend with a rejuvenated Sanya Richards-Ross. The American had a poor two seasons troubled by injury and illness but has looked the part this year running fast at the American trials (49.28secs). Given her struggles on the big stage as was the case in Beijing four years ago, it will be interesting to see whether she can hold off Montsho.

The king versus the pretender. Four years ago, Leshawn Merrit dethroned Jeremy Wariner as the king of 400m by winning the Olympic gold and followed it up with a world title the following year. All seemed rosy for the American until a moment of madness saw him test positive for Dehydroepiandrosterone, which he had allegedly consumed through the use of a penis enlargement drug. He accepted a twoyear ban from the sport. In his absence, a youngster was busy making his name. For years, Kirani James has been touted for greatness after running the fastest ever 400m for a 15-year-old. Last year, he moved to the seniors posting the year’s fastest time of 44.36secs. When the duo met at the World Championships in Daegu last year, James held off Merrit to win his first senior title. Though still very raw, the talent is incredible and having wiped off Merrit’s World Junior record, he will step onto the London track confident of completing the succession plan while the American will be hoping to prove that he is still king.

WOMEN 400M RACE

MEN 400M RACE

Amantle Montsho vs Sanya Richards

Yohan Blake vs Usain Bolt Going to the Beijing Olympics, the question was how fast Usain Bolt would run and whether he would obliterate the rest of the field. True to the billing, he cantered to a scarcely believable 9.69 seconds despite starting celebrations 20m from the finish. Four years on, the multiple World record holder faces a different set of questions in the form of world champion Yohan Blake. The young Jamaican threw the first salvo in Daegu where Bolt false started while Blake went on to win the world crown. Since then they have played cat and mouse avoiding each other until this year’s Jamaican Olympic trials. Here Blake comprehensively beat Bolt in both 100 and 200m. Beating Bolt over 100m may not raise as many eyebrows but the way he ran him down in the 200m certainly raised questions about Bolt’s form and fitness. Has his form gone? Affected by loads of commercial interests? Or did he get hurt in June’s car accident but kept it quiet? Can he bounce back? One thing is for sure, if the two make the finals of both sprints, we will find out the answers at the Olympic Stadium in what should be a breathtaking spectacle.

MEN 100 & 200M RACE

38|

Silas Kiplagat vs Asbel Kiprop Reigning Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop is hoping to do what no other man has done in history when he mounts the defence of his Olympic title. To do so, the lanky 23-year-old will have to contend with Commonwealth Games champion and World silver medallist Silas Kiplagat. With similar running styles that include a devastating kick in the last 150m, the two have developed a rivalry over the past two years. Last year, Kipalgat beat Kiprop in Nairobi at the trials only for the Olympic champion to kick away to victory in Daegu. This year they have met twice and Kiplagat has again won both times. First was in Doha when both men dipped under the 3:30 mark with Kiplagat seemingly looking like he had pushed Kiprop on his way to victory. Then at the trials, he again bettered his compatriot. London will thus provide the third meeting of the season for the duo. Kenya holds its breath.

MEN 1500M RACE

Carmelita Jeter vs Shelly Ann FraserPryce A late bloomer, Carmelita Jeter has been the queen of the spring over the past two seasons including clinching the world title as well as running the second fastest time ever (10.64s). Olympic champion Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce followed up her Beijing win with the world title in 2009 but then hit rocky times. She spent six months out after testing positive for a banned substance after using medication for toothache. Now back, she has looked ominous setting a new personal best and fourth fastest time of all time at the Jamaican trials (10.70). With her explosive start, she will surely be fastest out of the blocks but with Jeter’s power in the drive through phase, this race could yet be decided by a photo finish.

WOMEN 100M RACE

OLYMPIC

MEDALLIST IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER WOMEN

GOLD BEIJING 2006

Pamela Jelimo (800 m) Nancy Langat (1500 m)

SILVER ATLANTA 1996

Liu Xiang vs Dayron Robles Beijing 2008 was undoubtedly Xiang Liu’s lowest moment of his career as he hobbled off the start of the 110m hurdles heats much to the disbelief and disappointment of a billion people who were waiting to see their favourite son compete on home soil. He has worked back from injury and with it his form has returned with his 12.97 registered in Shanghai the second fastest time this season. 25-year-old Dayron Robles, one of Cuba’s most adored sports figures, plans to cap his stellar career by successfully defending his Olympic title. With Robles set to retire after London, he also wants to make up for the disappointment for his disqualification from last year’s world championship final in South Korea after he was found guilty of interfering with Xiang. If both negotiate their way to the final, it will be an explosive affair as two of the best athletes in the distance over the last decade face off at the world’s biggest stage.

110M HURDLES

ATHENS 2004

Isabella Ochichi (5000 m) Catherine Ndereba (Marathon)

BEIJING 2006

BRONZE SYDNEY 2000

Joyce Chepchumba (Marathon)

Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei (800 m) Catherine Ndereba (Marathon) Eunice Jepkorir (3000 m steeplechase)

Pauline Konga (5000 m)

|39


INTERNATIONAL STARS OF 2011

CAPTAIN SPEAK

THE KEY BATTLES TO WATCH OUT FOR Continued

OLYMPIC

MEDALLIST IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER MEN BRONZE TOKYO 1964

Wilson Kiprugut (800m)

MEXICO CITY-1968

Naftali Temu (men 5000m)

MUNICH 1972

.................................................... Julius Sang (400 m) Mike Boit (800 m)

Kenenisa Bekele vs Mo Farah The entire United Kingdom will be rooting for the Somali-born Mo Farah when he lines up in the men’s 10000m final. A silver medallist in the distance at the World Championships, Farah considers, the 25 lap race his best bet of getting a medal. Memories of how Ibrahim Jeilan reeled him in to snatch gold in Daegu will no doubt make him wary of any Ethiopian on his shoulder at the bell. This time round, however, he will be up against double Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele who is aiming for an unprecedented third straight gold medal in the distance. Despite being hampered by injuries for the past two years that have seen him lose some of his invincibility, Bekele remains one of the best long distance athletes, the world has ever seen. Even though he may not be 100 per cent fit in London, his sheer class and ability means that Mo Farah will have to better him if he is to oblige the Union Jack lovers.

MEN 10000 RACE

WILL BE ON

TEAM

KENYA

LOS ANGELES 1984

A

By WILFRED BUNGEI

....................................................

Michael Musyoki (10000 m)

SEO UL 1988

Allyson Felix vs Veronica CampbellBrown

....................................................

The three time World champion, Allyson Felix has surprisingly never won an Olympic gold in her favourite distance; 200m. She went to Athens in 2004 and Beijing 2008 as the favourite but both times, she fell short. In each of those times, she lost to VCB as Veronica Campbell-Brown is known. The powerful Jamaican has made a habit of producing the goods at crunch time running the fastest time in a decade to win in China four years ago. One of the most decorated athletes having won gold at every level in athletics (World Youth, World Junior, World Championships and Olympics); she will look to cap off with a third Olympic gold in the half lap race.

ATLANTA 1996

WOMEN 200M RACE

QUICK FACT .........................................................................

Kipkemboi Kimeli (10000 m)

BARCELONA 1992

....................................................

William Mutwol (3000 m steeplechase) Samson Kitur (400 m)

....................................................

Fred Onyancha (800 m) Stephen Kipkorir (1500 m) Erick Wainaina (Marathon)

SYDNEY 2000

.................................................... Bernard Lagat (1500 m)

ATHENS 2004

....................................................

Paul Kipsiele Koech (3000 m steeplechase) Eliud Kipchoge (5000 m)

BEIJING 2008

....................................................

Micah Kogo (10000 m) Edwin Soi (5000 m) Alfred Kirwa Yego (800 m)

...Continued from page 25

DID YOU KNOW? Kenya did not participate in the 1976 and 1980 editions in Montreal and Moscow

40|

WHY ALL EYES

Support our heroes and heroines as they are crowned with medals. Let us all remember that they are doing it for the country.

s the biggest sports extravaganza in the world starts in London all eyes will be on Team Kenya. I would not want to predict how many medals we could come home with, but I want to say it all depends on how athletes are prepared psychologically, I know for sure that in terms of training, they are ready. The most important is for the athlete to be given humble time to think and reflect on the tasks ahead and this goes to the coaches, administrators and most importantly their family members. People might ask how family affects the performance of the athlete, but I want to say that the most important unit in preparation of an event like the Olympics is the family. With more than a decade of active participation, I know that pressure is more on those who are ranked number one in the world, because all eyes/cameras will be on them. I became a victim in 2004 Athens Olympic where I finished number five despite being ranked number one, as I had not lost any race prior to the games.

Being a national assignment, I would like to advise the teams in different events, to strategise and make a grand plan to work as a team on how to outdo the competitors as it has always been witnessed in the 3000m steeplechase men in the past. This will work well for the nation, as it is a competition of nations and not individuals. My appeal to all Kenyans is to support our heroes and heroines as they are crowned with medals. Let us all remember that they are doing it for the country. I have said more than once that it is the sports men and women of this beautiful country that unites us as one a people. I only hope that when athletes come home for a grant welcome, we should remember that as a country we have a task ahead, the general elections. I hope our politicians and voters will learn a thing or two from our athletes who put the country first. All of us who have represented this nation in one way or the other were doing it because we love our nation Kenya. Lastly I want to say all the best my fellow athletes. I have now changed my career and will be on the microphone working for SuperSport as a commentator to make sure you get the best from what will be happening in London.

QUICK FACT .........................................................................

DID YOU KNOW? Kenya won her first medal at the 1964 Games in Tokyo through Wilson Kiprugut in the men 800m

|41


TEA BOARD OF KENYA

FOCUS ON BRIMIN

LIVE HEALTHY

“With Kenya Tea”

Sicily K. Kariuki (Mrs.), MBS Managing Director, Tea Board of Kenya

“Kenya is the biggest exporter of tea in the world and also the home to the most prolific athletes.”

T

hese statements could not be better expressed than in the Tea for Health International Marathon held in April in Kericho under the auspices of the Tea Board of Kenya. The event which blended the health attributes that Kenya tea is renowned for with the healthy sporting lifestyle was hosted

42|

within the lush green tea gardens of Kericho, the hub of tea production which lies within the greater region that produces some of the greatest marathoners. Tea consumption has since time immemorial been considered healthy and even medicinal. Indeed, processed tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world with green and black tea being the most widely consumed. The quality and variety of the tea products stems from the chemical composition of the tea shoots and the reactions during processing. Most of the tea produced in the world can be classified as non-aerated (green tea), partially aerated (oolong) tea and aerated black tea though many variants such as white, flavoured, organic, decaffeinated, herbal, scented can be achieved with manipulation. The chemical composition of polyphenols, alkaloids (caffeine, theophylline and theobromine), amino acids, carbohydrates, proteins, chlorophyll, volatile compounds, minerals, trace elements and other unidentified compounds in these teas will therefore vary. Polyphenols, however, are the main bioactive molecules in tea. The potential health benefits of tea have largely been ascribed to the antioxidant properties of these polyphenols. Tea polyphenols act as anti-oxidants by directly scavenging reactive oxygen species (free radicals) which are produced in the body. Free radicals are constantly generated in vivo due to exposure to environmental pollutants, radiation, chemicals, toxins, physical stress and the oxidation process of drugs and food. An imbalance between anti-oxidants and reactive oxygen species generated through the above factors results in oxidative stress leading to cellular damage and ultimately inflammation. Tea has also been shown to have

anti-allergic action, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, potential anti-helmintic (de-worming) properties, antidiarrhoeal properties, antidiabetic activity and also antihyperglycaemic activity. Additionally, there is already growing evidence that tea polyphenols have antiheart disease activity in humans and some catechins improve the bioavailability of some orally administered drugs. Research undertaken by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Egerton University and the Department of Chemistry at the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya published in the African Journal of Biotechnology, (Vol.6 (19) pp.2287-2296, October 4, 2007) revealed that green, white and black tea products processed from Kenya tea cultivars originally selected for black tea, had significantly higher antioxidant activity than green tea processed from tea cultivars from Japan and China. Kenya tea cultivars which total 49 in number are well adapted to the growing areas environment that Kenya tea is absolutely pest and disease free. Recently, the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya pre-released their most recent marvel, the purple tea variety, (TRFK 306/1) targeting a unique tea product — anthocyanin-rich tea. Anthocyanins are water soluble, diverse flavonoids that are powerful antioxidants widely known for their health enhancing properties. Anthocyanins are also widely used as preservatives especially in the food industry and are extracted for pharmacological and industrial uses, manufacture of instant teas, Ready To Drink tea, and other fast moving consumer goods such as health care products, foods and confectionaries. With all these attributes of Kenya tea being evident, the Tea Board of Kenya has packaged the advantages into a Mark of Origin that denotes the 100 per cent Kenya tea brand.

BRIMMING MASTER Brimin Kipruto on the verge of Olympics greatness

H

By MUTWIRI MUTUOTA

e shuns the limelight like plague, rarely grants interviews and he is the complete antithesis of his publicity hogging teammate, Ezekiel Kemboi but Brimin Kipruto stands on the verge of commanding the headlines at London 2012 Olympics. Both men have traded the coveted gold medal at the past two Olympics and London will present the battlefront where one will enter history books as the first repeat winner of the top medal at the

biggest event of all in the 3000m men steeplechase. “My biggest aim is to defend my world title in London. It will not be easy since there are good runners who will be there but I’m working hard to realise my dreams,” the soft spoken Kipruto who won the 2007 world title before his Beijing triumph said. Unlike Kemboi, he prefers his gifted legs to do the talking and only makes headlines related to his success of lack thereof on the track. However, that does disguise the burning desire of the runner who is out to stamp his authority in history books when the track and

|43


FOCUS ON BRIMIN

field programme gets underway in London on August 3 when he attempts to become the first man to defend the steeplechase title. “To be at an Olympics for the third time is so tough. First of all, you must train hard, maintain discipline and be serious in what you are doing. That is why I’m trying to go for the third Olympics since they are the biggest sport for any athlete,” he added. Kipruto announced his arrival on the international stage when he raced 5:36.81 for 2000m steeplechase silver at the 2001 World Youth Championships in Debrecen, Hungary where he trailed David Kirwa (5:33.40) to the line. He proved his versatility when he won bronze medal over 1,500m at the 2004 World Juniors in Grosseto, Italy after stopping the clock in 3:95.36 as an 18-yearold and after just turning 19 (born July 31, 1985) Kipruto made his name by bagging steeplechase silver at the Athens Olympics in 8:06.11 as Kemboi took the gold. Another bronze medal at the 2005 Worlds followed (8:15.30) before his famed kick won him his first world title two years later in Osaka (8:13.82) and his purple patch continued at the Beijing Olympics where he scooped the biggest medal of his career in 8:10.34. His defence of the world title ended with a seventh finish in Berlin (8:12.61), marking his worst result on the track in Kenyan colours but Kipruto returned to the podium in Daegu last year where only a devastating back straight sprint by Kemboi denied him the gold as he arrived on the line in 8:16.05 for the second medal. “To run for long depends on the amount and discipline you have. Running is my office and I have to take it very seriously. I’m training twice a day, in the morning and evening and sometimes, I train three times a day. “Most of the time, I’m in Kaptagat training and remaining focused on the job at hand,” the Beijing champion explained his extended run on or close to the top of his trade. He counts his first Olympics in Athens as the most special. “But every medal I have won remains special in its own way since it takes a lot to be among the top and this is what I’m looking forward to in London. Athens was

44|

To be at an Olympics for the third time is so tough. First of all, you must train hard, maintain discipline and be serious in what you are doing. That is why I’m trying to go for the third Olympics since they are the biggest sport for any athlete.

my first Olympics and Beijing has many good memories for me,” he hastens to add. The Kipsoen High School alumnus became only the second man after Reuben Kosgei (2000/2001) to hold both the Olympics and World steeple titles simultaneously with his triumph in China where he became Kenya’s seventh successive holder of the Olympics steeplechase crown expressed. The second quickest steeplechaser of all time with 7:53.64 ran last year that is a hundredth of a second off the world record held by Qatari Saif Saeed Shaheen is quietly confident that he is capable of defending his

title in London. But the picture of modest calm he displays would make him pass for an ordinary man in the streets and few outside Korkitony Village; near Chebiemit in Marakwet District or his Kaptagat training camp would recognise him. “He is a very polite young man but when it comes to his running abilities, he doesn’t underestimate himself,” one of his coaches at Kaptagat, the late Joseph Chelimo, once described him. As fellow Beijing winners threw lavish parties to celebrate their success, Kipruto only attended the State celebration led by President Kibaki in Mombasa. “It is not that I do not like partying but I choose to reflect on my performances and give myself time to recover,” he said. Kipruto sealed his place in the London team by leading Kemboi at the Trials and for him; nothing would be greater than completing the sweep at an event that has been known as ‘Kenya’s race’. “As always, we ran as a team but unlike in the past, our competitors have prepared very well for us,” the champion said in reference to the French runner Mekhissi Bennabad who has shattered the country’s podium run in Beijing, Berlin and Daegu. “At the final straight, I saw that we were almost losing the gold medal and I gathered all the strength I had for the finish. Thankfully, I was strong enough to win,” the man who became the seventh successive Kenyan Olympics steeplechase champion in 8:10.34, recalled his Beijing success. Having lived in the shadows of Kemboi and world record holder and Shaheen since his breakthrough performance in Athens, Brimin does not place any of his titles above the other. “In Osaka, it was easier since we blew away the competition and I was stronger than my team-mates but Beijing was a different story since I had to fight alone in the end.” “Each title was a realisation of my dream and I am training to get more. And I am working so hard to remain tough.” “Championship races are usually slower than Grand Prix since there are no pacemakers. It requires mental steel and great finishing to win and to remain in those conditions requires serious training.”

|45


....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... .......................................................................................................................................................................

KTB INTERVIEW

a little of that which builds Kenya’s runners. Besides quality athletics training, athletes have a unique opportunity to sample Kenya’s unique cultures, wildlife, Kenyan hospitality among others, all in one holiday. Over 100 athletes from different countries and background train at this facility annually in the full glare of both the local and international media. Athletics have indeed propelled the destination into a global recognition. It has made our marketing easier especially with the endorsement of the athletes who we regard as our ambassadors

TKR: Sports Tourism has transformed countries that have hosted major sporting events, such as South Africa when it hosted the World Cup in 2010 by an economic boost of appx.12 million dollars. Is it part of KTB’s role to lobby for sports bonanza’s to be hosted in Kenya? For example when Kenya hosted the Senior African Athletics Championships in 2010. Did KTB play any role? NDEGWA: Since KTB benefits a lot in events that would attract tourists, having a major event would be much supported by all the players in the sector.

.................................................................................

The Kenyan Runner’s Mutwiri Mutuota and Clement Njoroge spoke to Kenya Tourist Board Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa on the role that KTB plays in promoting local sports. TKR: What is the core mandate of KTB? NDEGWA: Our core mandate is to promote and market Kenya as a tourist destination locally and internationally.

TKR: In exercising its mandate, where does KTB place sports generally? NDEGWA: Indeed sports are one of our niche products that are

aggressively marketing and leveraging them to profile the country as a sporting destination. For example golf is a niche product that Kenya is quickly being known for with over 40 golf courses spread across the country.

TKR: And Athletics? NDEGWA: Kenyan athletes have turned the international circuit

into a national fiefdom; it is no longer difficult to find Kenya on the world map. This fertile ground for the development of world beating athletes has created an international phenomenon, as many runners across the world seek to come and discover the source of Kenya’s athletic prowess. Several high altitude training camps in the Great Rift Valley and Central Kenya attract many international athletes, yearning to share in

TKR: How does KTB relate with Kenyan Sports Federations to bid as event hosts? NDEGWA: Our role will be to showcase the other trickling effects of such an event; that apart from sports, participants may wish to do other excursions around the country

TKR: Kenya is world famous for athletics. Does KTB have specific programme(s) to use athletics as part of the sports tourism? NDEGWA: We have engaged with Athletics Kenya with a view

to finding areas of collaboration and leveraging athletics to market Kenya. We are already working on an MOU to leverage this. We will be looking at areas like training or mentoring our athletes on key messaging while on international performance and especially during their interaction with the media or potential tourists. KTB has also been sponsoring the Sports Personality of the Year Awards. To us this serves as recognition of personalities that have excelled in different sporting fields. It is also recognition of their role as country’s sporting ambassadors.

TKR: What has KTB done so far in regards to promoting Kenya abroad in sporting events? NDEGWA: In 2009 KTB co-

sponsored the national sevens team rugby in the IRB series together with Kenya Airways. This pushed our destination brand to the targeted audience. The coming Olympics in London has also offered Kenya another opportunity to market herself; thus KTB along with other stakeholders have organised a number of activities under the Kenya House to market the country not just as a sporting destination, but also with other tourism products to showcase. Also the international Maralal camel

Note worthy Kenya Tourist Board have sponsored a number of activities at Kenya house for London 2012

Continued on page 48...

46|


....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................... .......................................................................................................................................................................

FOCUS ON DEBUTANTS

KTB INTERVIEW

...Continued from page 46 derby, which will take place in August 10-12 this year, has been attracting international participation. KTB is partnering with the community to promote the sporting event, which would also not only open up Maralal but the northern part of the country as a whole.

TKR: The athletics training camps in Iten among others are known to host world class athletes e.g Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe, 1500m silver Medalist Hannah England and 5000m finalist Helen Clitheroe (part of Team England for the Olympics 2012) have been readying themselves for the Olympics by living and training in Iten. Is KTB exploiting such hallmarks to market Kenya as a training destination? NDEGWA: Yes, KTB has conducted a number of international media

familiarisation trips to the region. We have had a number of renowned journalists from leading publications in Europe visiting the region and interviewing athletes in training. With the international exposure an estimated 100 athletes from different countries and background train at these facilities annually in the full glare of both the local and international media.

DEBUTANTS KEEN TO MAKE A MARK As the Olympics games start in London on

July 27, a number of athletes will be making their debut. TKR’s Chris Musumba look at some of the debutants and discuss their chances in London.

TKR: Does KTB have a dedicated function that promotes tourism through sports, especially athletics and rugby where Kenya fairs well? NDEGWA: Athletic icons like Paul Tergat have actively marketed and endorsed Kenya while product managers like Kenya Wildlife Service have used Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt to endorse the Animal adoption programme as part of marketing the Nairobi animal orphanage

TKR: Are there incentives to bring tourists into the country (waiver of VISA fees, tax refunds) to watch events such as the selection of the Kenya team to the Olympics. Fact is the ones who are selected stand an almost 100 per cent chance of being in the medal bracket from 800m upwards. Would it not be cheaper for a French athletics fan, for example, to come to Nairobi and even get a great chance to interact with a potential Olympics champion, other than go to London for the Olympics? NDEGWA: More collaboration between various government agencies or ministries especially immigration would see a win win situation in such scenarios, and the same can be explored, it’s the way to go, to enhance synergies between various government roles that have the same goal!

TKR: How would you hope to collaborate with any other organisations, such as Athletics Kenya and The Kenyan Runner in the effort to promote sports tourism? NDEGWA: Apart from AK, which we are keen on signing an MOU with on areas of collaboration, we are not locking out other players in the industry as we seek to leverage sports in marketing Kenya as a sporting destination.

TKR: What role do you see sports generally contributing to Kenya’s tourism as a foreign exchange earner in future? NDEGWA: Sportsmen and women are our ambassadors; the more they make our country known the more we sell tourism.

48|

S

Eunice Sum

eldom does an athlete emerge at 23 and goes on to rule the world in her specialty. However, this is part of the statistics that Eunice Sum, the Africa 800m silver medallist will be eyeing to repeal when she storms the London Olympics track. This does not mean that it will be the first time that the 24-years-ago star from Kesses village in Uasin Gishu District will be pulling on the Green and Red Kenyan jersey at a big stage competition. Sum’s phenomenal talent was evident at an early age where she juggled between track and field and handball during her elementary years in formal education at the Turwopng’etuny Primary School. But it was in handball where her heart lied, though her mind was fixed on track and field. In the end her heart won the initial contest and for a moment she forgot about athletics, which is the reason why she is regarded as a late bloomer in the discipline. A first cousin of former World 800m champion Alfred Kirwa Yego, the genes of running in the middle distance were always in Sum. She was fighting hard to suppress it, but when it finally sprouted, there was no looking back. It was therefore no fluke that last year; Sum emerged on the global stage. Though to many it was considered a year too soon when she got to the finals of the 800m at the World Championships in Daegu last September, to her the moment of glory had dawned. “I made my debut at international stage last year in Daegu though, in Kenyan standards it was not that impressive. I have been undergoing intense training and hope to return in London being in top shape to wrest the 1,500m gold.

|49


FOCUS ON DEBUTANTS

“I can do it and be prepared for me to make a real statement in London,” said Sum. Yes true she is running in the four lap race and not the traditional 800m distance, where for over three years, she has run under the shadows of her mentor and mother figure Olympic silver medallist Janeth Jepkosgei. Her failure to clinch a medal in Daegu triggered a new shift in her training. She wanted to do something different and she opted to take her running a gear up to the 1,500m race where she will be teaming up with World Indoor Championships 3,000m winner Helen Obiri and teenage sensation Faith Chepng’etich. She recently led a 48-member Kenya team to the Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Porto Novo, Benin where she clinched silver in the two-lap race. To her this was only a stage for her to relaunch her career. “I went to Benin eyeing just one thing, reignite my career. I wanted something to look upon as an incentive, to motivate and inspire me when I travel to London for the Olympics. I got silver and am happy with it. It is a positive step, now I need to focus on the bigger task that is the Olympic games. “The 800m is my specialty and having secured a ticket to the Olympics in the 1,500m distance, it was important for me to use it to gauge my speed work,” she said. When all is said and done, Sum will be happy to reflect on her career with her favourite Mursik (sour milk) when she returns from London with a new edge in her running career. Whether she comes with a medal dangling in her neck, is a matter of time, but for sure, breaking into Team Kenya, is an achievement worth toasting to.

Anthony Chemut

T

he king of 800m distance is undisputed, but that has not killed the dream of the many pretenders to the David Rudisha throne of one day ascending to the summit. One such individual, who is comfortable at the moment to run in Rudisha’s shadows, is Anthony Chemut. Until the Kenyan Olympics trials, Chemut was unknown. Boxed in a pack of experienced and reknown athletes including World Military games silver medallist Jackson Kivuva, Chemut, 20, was supposed to be the other athletes regarded as the excess to demand whose main task is to fill the lanes. But he calculated his moves and hit the bulls’ eye in the final straight to finish second behind Rudisha and clinch a spot in Team Kenya. Teenager Timothy Kitum will be the third athlete in the team. Chemut started running in 2008 where he participated in the Commonwealth Youth games and reached the semi-finals in 400m. However it was in 2009 that his career was unleashed. Chemut made his first show in an IAAF competition for Kenya at the World Youth Championships in Bressanone, Italy competing at the one lap race. Chemut was unlucky as he wound up sixth in the 400m race clocking 48.35 seconds. Lack of investment in sprints and peer pressure forced him to shift gears and move up to the 800m race. “Many of my training partners were going up to the 800m race

50|

I am confident Team Kenya will win all the three top positions in the Olympics. My greatest moment will be to come home with a medal from the Olympics since this is the first time I am participating. because it was what the managers and agents wanted. I could not afford to remain behind because, I wanted to remain in the camp,” he said. In 2010, he ran his first national trials for the seniors eyeing to make the team to the Delhi Commonwealth Games, but he was not lucky to make the cut. He clocked 1:47.58. He went back to the drawing board and emerged a year later stronger. Chemut took part in the Africa Junior Championships in Botswana where he won silver in 800m. It was the start of a new dawn in his running career. The rest as they say is now history. With so much at stake in an Olympic year, Chemut started 2012 on a low note opting to focus just on his development and training at home. His main target was to compete at the Africa Championships in Benin. With many athletes opting to head to the Olympics without the distraction of the Africa championships, Chemut grabbed the opportunity to get a medal in the senior cadre. He had just stunned the crowds at the Nyayo National Stadium, when he finished second to Rudisha in the Olympic trials. He went to Porto Novo, Benin buoyant of doing well and indeed he was crowned with a silver behind Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi. Now nothing can stop him dreaming of Olympic stardom. Chemut has been categorical ruling that Kenya will dominate in London in the two-lap race. “I am confident Team Kenya will win all the three top positions in the Olympics. My greatest moment will be to come home with a medal from the Olympics since this is the first time I am participating,” he said. But he also warned that Sudan’s Abubakar Kaki, the world silver medallist will be a threat to the Kenyans. “I have never run with Kaki but I know he is a threat to our team. The gold is already secured for Rudisha, what remains is for us to be with him on the either side of the podium,” said Chemut. “I have been participating in the 400m race but I have been

performing poorly. I shifted to 800m because I realised that it was easier and now I am seeing it work because I qualified in the national trials.” Whatever happens, Chemut will be part of a great history of Kenya domination in the 800m race at the London Olympics.

Joyce Chepkirui

T

here is a time for everything. A time for training, a time to compete and a time to make a debut in a big competition like the Olympics. For Joyce Chepkirui, an officer with the Administration Police, this year was her year of redemption. She arrived without an entourage, immersed herself in training and has emerged with a greatly enhanced reputation as a serious contender to the medals in the 10,000m race at the London Olympic Games. For an athlete who started off in the 1,500m and 3,000m steeplechase distances, Chepkirui would not be so erroneous if she guided Kenya’s medal haunt in the longest track competition. Having emerged a pillar many of her peers could lean on in their career in track and field, it has been a slow winding path for the Buret born athlete. She established herself as a half marathon runner, winning races in Granollers, Bogota and Gothenburg. She set a best time of 1:07:03 hours to win the 2012 Prague Half Marathon. She also competes in 10K road races and her personal best of 30:38 minutes makes her the fifth fastest woman ever. She was fifth in the 2010 World Half Marathon in Nanning, China and is even thinking of taking up the main marathon race after the Olympics. Such is the rich talent of Chepkirui, that she can easily juggle the distances from 10,000 to 1,500 without any negative effect on her body. Take this season for example, Chepkirui started off in the cross country by clinching gold in Cape Town beating former World Cross country Champion Emily Chebet. Last year, with all athletes heading to Daegu for the World Championships, she opted to launch her track career in the 1,500m distance at the All Africa Games, winning silver. She arrived in Nairobi for the selection of the Olympic team, much unknown, but when the counting was done, she was among the three Kenyans who will be in London for the Olympics at the expense of former World Champion Linet Masai and veteran Linet Chepkirui. She was second in 32 minutes 24.71 seconds behind Vivian Cheruiyot to claim an automatic berth in the biggest sporting carnival. “I’m so happy, I’m speechless, I was not thinking of this but I had trained hard and I’m pleased it worked out,” the 23-year-old said. Her surprise qualification had selectors in a spin taking intense backroom lobbying for the Athletics Kenya officials to confirm her in the Olympics squad. “The first thing is to give thanks to God since I was not expecting to make the Olympics team. I have represented the country twice in continental competitions and my dream was to finish among the top three, which I did,” she said.

Her performance at the Olympic trials signified a new dawn in her career. The road racing specialist wants to focus on the 10,000m and the Olympics will be the stage where she intends to showcase the world what she has up her sleeves. “Going to the Africa Cross Country Championships was an important motivator for me. I feared the Ethiopians would ruin my race. But after that performance I realised, I could take them on and now I want to extend the challenge to the track competition in London,” said Chepkirui, who does not turn 24 until August 20. Well the Olympics is the ultimate stage in any sportswoman career and being there is an honour winning is not guaranteed.

QUICK FACT ......................................................................... DID YOU KNOW? Kenyan runners have won 22 gold, 27 silver and 19 bronze medals at the Olympics

|51


LONDON 2012

KENYA’S

of Biwott’s technique of jumping clear of the water and calling it primitive. Some western commentators were quick to write off the African success as “An altitude fluke”. History would prove them wrong. Kenya also won silver in the men’s 4 x 400 meters relay, men’s 800 meters and a bronze in boxing. The hockey team finished eighth among sixteen. The Mexico games also witnessed “The leap of the century” – Bob Beamon of USA stunned the athletic world with a huge long jump of 29 feet 2 ½ inches, breaking the world record by an incredible 21 and1/4 inches. Experts unanimously consider this to be by a wide margin, the greatest improvement ever on an existing record. In shock, none of the other competitors came close even to the previous record.

OLYMPICS

JOURNEY By Kabir Lalani

The year was 1956. I was a 13 year

old high school student making my weekly purchase of the Friday issue of the East African Standard. it cost 20 cents and was the only daily English newspaper at the time. I was eager to read it – Kenya was entering the Olympics for the first time in Melbourne. I was to develop a lifelong passion for Kenya athletics. The team comprised of Nyandika Maiyoro (5,000 meters), Arere Anentia (10,000 meters) Arap Kanuti (Marathon), Joseph Lerasae (High jump) and Kenya also fielded a hockey team comprised of players of Asian origin – mostly Sikhs and Goans. Maiyoro placed seventh in the 5,000 meters, the inexperienced Anentia failed to show up at the starting line for the 10,000 meters through not having a clear understanding of the instructions. The hockey team finished in tenth place.

The 1960 Rome Olympics was Kenya’s

second entry at the Olympics. The Rome Olympics will be remembered for the heroic barefoot running in the marathon of the then unknown Abebe Bikila. Bikila pounded bare feet through the streets of Rome to the amazement of the crowds and won sub-Saharan Africa’s first gold medal at the Olympics. These were still early times for Kenya. Maiyoro placed sixth in the 5,000 meters. The hockey team placed seventh among 16 nations losing in the quarter finals to England in the sixth overtime period. Two years later, at the 1962

52|

Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia, the Late Seraphino Antao (1937-2011) became the first Kenyan to win gold at an international level by winning the 100 and 220 yards. Kenya gained independence in 1963 and Antao became the first postindependence Kenyan Olympic flagbearer at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Kenya won its first Olympics medal when Wilson Kiprugut won bronze in the men’s 800 meters. The by then well known Abebe Bikila again put on his stamp of authority by becoming the first man to win the marathon twice – this time also setting a world record three weeks after surgery for removal of appendicitis. At the end of the race, he again amazed the crowds by an energetic display of aerobics and stating he could run another ten kilometers. The Kenyan hockey team acquitted itself admirably, finishing in sixth place among sixteen nations. Avtar Singh (Tari) , the young captain was considered to be the best full back in the world and I recall his orders to the team in Kiswahili during a game “Rudi nyuma” (“Get back) so as not to give away his strategy to the opponents. Around this time, John Velzian, a British athletics coach originally assigned to schools, had begun to nurture the talents of Kenyan runners and to bring out the best in the likes of Amos Biwott, Mike Boit, Ben Jipcho, Robert Ouko, Julius Sang, Kipchoge Keino, and Naftali Temu, to name a few and all of them medalists. Kenya athletics is truly blessed to have had John Velzian as a part of its illustrious history.

The 1972 Munich Olympics witnessed

The 1968 Mexico Olympics are deeply

etched in my memory. I was in England at the time. It was also the first time Kenya entered three female athletes including a young Tekla Chemabwai , aged eighteen. Runners from Africa put a stamp of authority over long distance running with Kenyans putting up a stellar performance, winning three golds, four silver and two bronze. There were epic battles with the other great Africans – Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia and Mahmmoud Gammoudi of Tunisia. In the 10,000 meters, Temu won gold for Kenya with Wolde taking silver and Gammoudi taking bronze. In the 5,000 meters, Gammoudi took gold, Keino silver and Temu bronze. Wolde won the marathon; Bikila running his third marathon retired through injury. The 1,500 meters was a major triumph for Keino. Running against doctor’s orders and fighting through the traffic of Mexico City, he arrived at the start line just before the race was about to begin. He was battling a stomach ailment. The lineup included Jim Ryun, the highly fancied American world record holder for the mile. Keino took command of the race at the end of the second lap and thoroughly dominated the field, beating the second placed Ryun by over twenty meters, the greatest margin of victory ever in the 1,500 meters. By winning gold in the 3,000 meters steeplechase, Amos Biwott became the forerunner of a long lineup of champions in the event. He was followed home by another Kenyan, Benjamin Kogo, who took silver. An irate commentator would only offer criticism

another great performance by the Kenyan team with golds won by Keino in the 3,000 meters steeplechase and the men’s 4 x 400 meters relay team. The three silver medals included one in boxing, one in the steeplechase (Ben Jipcho) and one in the 1,500 meters (Keino); the four bronze medals included two in boxing. The hockey team finished 13th. Two team members, Tekla Chemabwai and Julis Sang, anchor runner of the 4 x 400 relay team decided to get married. The 1972 games were marred by the assassination of eleven Israeli athletes by masked gunmen.

100meters, 200 meters, long jump and as a member of the 4 x 100 relay team. Lewis would go on to meet more medals at later Olympics bringing his Olympics total to nine gold and one silver.

The 1988 Seoul Olympics

saw Kenya again adding to its medal tally but for the first time in four Olympics, failed to win gold in the 3,000 meters steeplechase, winning silver and bronze in the event. Golds came in the men’s 5,000 meters (John Ngugi), men’s 800 meters (Paul Ereng) and boxing (Robert Wangila). Douglas Wakihuru’s silver gave Kenya its first marathon medal at the Olympics. There was a bronze in boxing - there have been no medals in boxing since. The hockey team finished in twelfth place and thereafter, has not qualified to participate.

The 1992 Barcelona Olympics yielded

eight medals and included a clean sweep of the 3,000 meters steeplechase yielding three medals. Kenya has won gold in the event ever since.

At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Kenya

won eight medals including the first medal for a female with Paulin Konga winning silver in the women’s 5,000 meters. The Atlanta games will be remembered for Canada breaking the USA’s sprint dominance with Donovan Bailey of Canada winning the men’s 100 meters in a world record time of 9.84 seconds and Canada also winning the men’s 4 x 100 meters relay.

The 2000 Sydney Olympics heralded a Under influence from other return to Australia after forty-four years. Kenya countries, Kenya did not won seven medals including another medal by a participate in the boycott games female with Joyce Chepchumba winning bronze of 1976 in Montreal and 1980 in the women’s marathon. Kenyan runners in Moscow. Up to around this were at the heart of two great races. time, athletics was primarily In the men’s 1,500 meters, all experts had an amateur sport – there was predicted sure victory for the great Moroccan an absence of big prize money Hicham El Guerrouj . Going into the last lap and endorsements – champions he had built up a sizeable lead over the rest and his victory appeared to be a virtual certainty. earned glory and honour This seemed so with 50 meters remaining when for them and their country. Noah Ngeny produced a tremendous burst Gradually over later years, of speed, caught up with and then passed El champions would also earn Guerrouj. At the end of the race, the great economic benefits. Moroccan sat down on the track in total The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics saw a

decline in Kenya’s medal tally with one gold and two bronze medals, the gold coming in the marquee 3,000 meters steeplechase. The hockey team finished ninth. The 1984 Olympics will be remembered for the stellar performance of American Carl Lewis who replicated the four golds 1936 Berlin feat of Jesse Owens by winning the

disbelief. Reckoned by experts to be the greatest 10,000 meters of all time, the world again witnessed the duel between the great cross country champion Paul Tergat and Ethiopean running legend Haile Gebreselassie. With about eighty meters to go, Tergat went wide to get out of a boxed in position and charged into the lead past Gebreselassie. Geb gave chase, caught up with Tergat and the two raced side by

side, each giving it total maximum effort and straining to get ahead of the other, Gebreselassie finally winning by inches and with the entire crowd on its feet. For the two, the result was a repeat of the 1996 Atlanta games. In their various classic duels over the years, each brought out the best in the other. Later , each would go on to break the world record for the marathon, now brought back to Kenya by Patrick Makau.

The Athens 2004 Olympics

witnessed another clean sweep by Kenya in the men’s 3,000 meters steeplechase and with women winning silver in the 5,000 meters and the marathon. Interestingly, the steeplechase gold medallist Ezekiel Kemboi is still at the top of his game, having won at the recent World Championships in Daegu and with his victory dance far outperforming that of Usain Bolt.

The Beijing 2008 Olympics were to

be the best ever for Kenya with a medal tally of fourteen including six gold, four silver and four bronze. Female athletes made a significant contribution of five medals including first ever gold by females – Pamela Jelimo (800 meters) and Nancy Lagat (1,500 meters). Catherine Ndereba earned her second Olympics silver in the marathon and two other marathoners finished in the top ten. Surprisingly, the men’s marathon powerhouse of Kenya – multi-time conquerors of Boston, New York, Chicago, London, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, Berlin and others, had never won Olympic gold in the event. This drought ended in Beijing when in a superb performance, Samuel Wanjiru broke away after thirty kilometers and set an Olympic record in bringing Kenya its first gold in the event. Having set a very impressive running record in a short period, Wanjiru died in 2011 at the young age of twenty-four following a fall. Soon the 2012 London Olympics will be upon us. There is much pressure and expectations upon the Kenyan team to perform well amid growing and stiff competition. It is very comforting to feel the strong and rapid emergence of women on the team. Good luck Kenya. Enjoy the games in a spirit of sportsmanship. You truly inspire the young in Kenya. May God be with you. Amen!.

|53


MARATHON PEN PIXES

By WMM

EDNA KIPLAGAT BIRTH DATE: 15 September 1978 PERSONAL BEST: 2:19:50 (London, 2012)

E

dna Kiplagat was the last woman challenging Mary Keitany at the 2012 London Marathon and although she could not hang on; she was rewarded with a new personal record and joined the women’s sub2:20 club. Kiplagat ran a sensational final 12km at last year’s World Championships to win the gold medal. Despite a fall at one of the late water stops, she went on to win by 17 seconds. In April Kiplagat made an almost five minute improvement on her personal best with a 2:20:46 finish at London. It was the fastest third place time for any women’s marathon in history. In only her second world-class marathon the Eldoret, Kenya native broke away from debutants Mary Keitany and Shalane Flanagan on the rolling hills of Central Park to win the 2010 New York City Marathon. She returned to New York City in March 2011 to run 69 minutes flat (second place) at the NYC Half-Marathon. Added to her earlier win eight months earlier in Los Angeles it made her the first

54|

with marathon wins on both coasts. She won a $100,000 bonus in LA for being the first finisher to the tape as she was given an 18 minute 47 second head start over the men’s field. Kiplagat’s first marathon was in December 2005 at Las Vegas when she was tenth in 2:50:20. Her husband Gilbert Koech is also a world-class marathoner with a PR of 2:13:45 which he ran at Las Vegas in January 2005. He also won the 2009 San Antonio

Marathon. While in the US they live in Boulder, Colorado. They have two sons, Collins Kiprop and Carlos Kipkorir, and daughter Wendy Jemutai, who have been staying with family members in Kenya. Having been among the six Olympics probables, her second finish in London sealed the world champion’s place in the team for a debut at the event where Kenya is seeking to produce a first ever winner of the women’s ultimate distance race.

WORLD MARATHON MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS 22 Apr 2012 27 Aug 2011 17 Apr 2011 07 Nov 2010 ING

Virgin London Marathon IAAF World Championships Virgin London Marathon New York City Marathon

2nd 1st 3rd 1st

2:19:50 2:28:43 2:20:46 2:28:20

1st

2:25:38

ADDITIONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS 21 Mar 10

City of Los Angeles Marathon

Continued on page 59...

|55


SHOCK THERAPY

CHASING LEGEND AFTER TWO SEASONS OF INJURY ETHIOPIA GREAT KENENISA BEKELE IS BACK TO PUSH FRONTIERS OF DISTANCE RUNNING IN LONDON

KENENISA BEKELE

We have only one track in the whole country and with so many athletes using it. I decided to put up a new one because the old one was causing injuries because of hardness and I needed a soft track to avoid injuries.

56|

W

By James Wokabi

hen Kenenisa Bekele takes to the track on August 4, he will be chasing a place in history. Win a third 10,000m gold and he will become the first man to achieve the feat. It would also make him the most successful Ethiopian Olympian of all time. Easily one of the best ever distance athletes to grace the sport, Bekele has made a habit of making history throughout his career by consistently pushing his limits. However this time round, the feeling is different. Besieged by injuries for the last two years, he may not quite wear the favourites tag. The Ethiopian missed out most of 2010 and 2011 and is still feeling his way back to form. This has resulted in unusual circumstances as he has been beaten severally in the Samsung Diamond league this season. It is certainly a new feeling for the athlete, “When you are used to winning, then you start losing, its not good. But I understand why and I have to patiently build and work my way up. But nobody likes losing and it’s been hard.” It all started going awry in 2010 when he suffered a long term injury which dragged into 2011. “It was bad time because I had to stop running which is my career and talent. When sitting out, you can’t be happy and it was a difficult time for me and I am happy that my friends helped me and now am back.”

|57


MARATHON PEN PIXES

It was this long stretch of injuries that saw him lose a 10,000m race for the first time in his career dropping out with ten laps remaining. It ended an unbelievable record in 10,000m on track as he had never lost a race in the distance before Daegu Worlds final. A week later he however posted a seasonal best time of 26:43:16 at a Samsung Diamond League Meet in Brussels. “I was only painfree for a few weeks and had trained for a little time which meant that I was not in good shape and it was just to try.” Frustrated by injuries, Kenenisa has decided to take matters into his own hands. He started the construction of a personal tartan running track. Located 15 kilometres from Addis Ababa, the track cost him a cool 1.2 million dollars. “Seven years ago I had a dream to have an international sports camp in Ethiopia and now my dream is almost is coming true. Am done with 50 percent of it as part of the hotel is finished as well as track.” “We have only one track in the whole country and with so many athletes using it. I decided to put up a new one because the old one was causing injuries because of hardness and I needed a soft track to avoid injuries.” Now fully recovered from injury, he has been making a concerted effort to get ready for London recently running 27:02 to make the Olympic mark. “To compete in London will be special, I need to run in London because am still young. I want to run at the Olympics again. It wasn’t easy but I worked hard just to make the team.” His results this year have been underwhelming with him finishing a slowly as seventh in Doha and he admits that it has taken some getting used to. “I am improving now. I have run 13:00 and 27:02 so in one month maybe I will be in shape. The injury was very bad and I have been out for two years without competition. It’s not easy because the body has slowed and I have to improve slowly by slowly because if I push too hard, the injury might recur so am taking it slowly.” Inspired by Abebe Bikila, Bekele has had a stellar career. “Bikila was my hero because he ran without shoes and won Olympics, he was great for this country...great guy.” Kenenisa began running in primary school, inspired by the success of Tulu, Fatuma Roba and Haile Gebrselassie. His first competitive success came in 1997, his seventh year of school, when he won a local schools cross country. In 2002, he started his domination of cross country completing a remarkable double win at the World Cross, winning both long and short races (first man in the history of World Cross to do so), again by overwhelming margins. In 2004, he made his debut at the Olympics, running alongside the great Gebrselassie, Kenenisa was the favourite and he lit up the stadium to win his first Olympic gold. “Athens was very nice. There is big pressure and you must concentrate to achieve your goal. Every step has to be done well. You

meet also many athletes from different countries, eat together and train together; it’s a different feeling.” In 2008, he sought to double up in both 5,000 and 10,000m. History beckoned for Kenenisa as only five other athletes had ever completed the double. He certainly lived up to his billing winning a second 10,000m Olympic gold in 27:01.17, setting a new Olympic Record in the process and days later, he overcame a tough field to win his first ever Olympic 5000m gold shattering Saïd Aouita’s Olympic Record by almost eight seconds with a time of 12:57.82. “Winning the double was different especially in Olympics. Only few athletes have done that. I remember that my country man Mirus Yifter had won the double and I wanted to emulate him and my dream came true.” One of his worst moments was at the 2007 World cross Country Championships when he dropped out in the sweltering heat of Mombasa where temperatures touched 36 degrees took its toll on him. “Mombasa was terrible. I have never run in that kind of weather before. I hadn’t trained in a similar place, it was humid and hot. It was terrible and I don’t want to remember. Even afterwards, I could not tell where I was or what was going on as my mind was confused.” The feat also meant that he made history by becoming the first Ethiopian to win three Olympic gold medals. A keen student of the sport, its something that feels him with pride. “5,000m was special because it was my first time to win and it was tougher. Everybody was sprinting and trying to win because it’s shorter. In ten, competition is less and also I had won it before but had missed 5,000m in Athens.” The expected progression is that Bekele will move on to marathon running once he is done with track. Infact, some people say he could yet become the first man to run the marathon in under two hours! He laughs off the suggestions. “It’s not easy and I don’t think so. Maybe I can run 2:02 but not under two hours. I don’t think human beings can run under that mark.” Before then , London beckons and though still not back to his best, few would bet against him.

...Continued from page 54

Quick Fact

Kenenisa holds the world and Olympics records in both 5000m and 10000m, the first man to achieve that.

QUICK FACT .........................................................................

DID YOU KNOW? Boxing (1 gold, 1 silver and 5 bronze) is the only other sport to medal for Kenya at the Olympics

By WMM

MARY KEITANY BIRTHDATE 18 January 1982 PERSONAL BEST: 2:18:37 (London 2012)

F

leet footed Mary Keitany won the London Marathon in 2:18:37, the fourth fastest time in history and a Kenyan record. Her second half of 1:07:44 was just 21 seconds slower than Paula Radcliffe in 2003 when she was paced by men. Last year Keitany had become became the fourth fastest woman marathoner in history with her 2:19:19 victory at the same event. She ran a quick second half split there, under 69 minutes to win by nearly a minute ahead of defending champion, Liliya Shobukhova. In February 2011 at Ras Al Khaimah, the affable Keitany set a new world record for the half-marathon at 1:05:50 and en route she passed 20km in another WR of 1:02:36. She has run four of the 9 fastest half-marathons ever on record quality courses. Keitany brought unprecedented speed to her marathon debut at the 2010 New York race but she faded to third.

In May she obliterated the previous world’s fastest time over 25Km with a 1:19:53 at Berlin. She also had one of the fastest halfmarathoners ever by virtue of her 1:06:36 gold-medal winning performance at the 2009 IAAF World Championships. She returned to New York in 2011 and ran the fastest first half in marathon history, 1:07:56. Although running the second half

almost nine minutes slower, Keitany hung on for another third place. She is married to 1:01 half-marathoner Charles Koech and they have a son born in 2008. They live in Iten, Kenya. Her fast performances in London have placed her hot favourite to end her nation’s Olympics gold medal drought at the women marathon.

HIGHLIGHTS 07 Nov 10 ING New York City Marathon

3rd

2:29:01

WORLD MARATHON MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS: 22 Apr 12 06 Nov 11 17 Apr 11 07 Nov 10

Virgin London Marathon ING New York City Marathon Virgin London Marathon ING New York City Marathon

1st 3rd 1st 3rd

2:18:37 2:23:38 2:19:19 2:29:01

Continued on page 68...

58|

|59


INJURY SCAN

DEALING WITH STRESS FRACTURES

H

By DR. VICTOR BARGORIA

aving worked with track and road race athletes for a while, one of the most common injuries that I get to see are stress fractures. Overcoming an injury like a stress fracture can be difficult, but it can be done! locked away in individual bases preparing for the London Olympics

Trials. However, as commendable as these efforts are, danger lurks if the high energy is not harnessed appropriately- this peril is overtraining.

What is a stress fracture?

I

t is an overuse injury which occurs when muscles are fatigued and are unable to absorb added shock. Eventually, the fatigued muscle transfers the overload of stress to the bone causing a tiny crack.

What causes a stress fracture?

Often they are the result of increasing the amount or intensity of an activity too rapidly. They also can be caused by the impact of an unfamiliar surface (an athlete running on an uneven surface) ; improper equipment (e.g. using worn or less flexible shoes); and increased physical stress.

Where do stress fractures occur? Most stress fractures occur in the weight bearing bones of the lower leg and the foot. More than half of all stress fractures occur in the lower leg.

Common stress fracture sites

Stress fracture Left tibia

What activities make athletes most susceptible to stress fractures? Repetitive stress of the foot striking the ground can cause trauma such as in a marathon event. Without sufficient rest between workouts or competitions, an athlete is at risk for developing a stress fracture.

How do women compare to men in terms susceptibility? Female athletes seem to experience more stress fractures than their male counterparts. Many orthopaedic surgeons attribute this to a condition referred to as “the female athlete triad”: eating disorders ,infrequent menstrual cycle, and osteoporosis. As a female’s bone mass decreases, her chances of getting a stress fracture increase.

What are the symptoms? Pain with activity which subsides with rest is the most common complaint with a stress fracture.

How are stress fractures diagnosed? It is very important that during the medical examination the doctor evaluates the patient’s risk factors for stress fracture e.g gender, training conditions , equipment X-rays are commonly used to determine stress fractures. Sometimes, the stress fracture cannot be seen on regular x-rays or will not show up for several weeks after the pain starts. Occasionally, a CT scan or MRI of the limb will be necessary.

60|

|61


INJURY SCAN

BLAST FROM THE PAST

Difference between stress and micro fracture

W

Stress fracture second metatarsal left foot

How are they treated?

The most important treatment is rest from the activity that caused the stress fracture, and engage in a pain-free activity during the six to eight weeks it takes most stress fractures to heal. If running is resumed too quickly, larger, harder-to-heal stress fractures can develop. Re-injury also could lead to chronic problems where the stress fracture might never heal properly. In addition to rest, change of shoes or use of braces may be used to help these injuries heal.

How do you prevent them?

• If pain or swelling occurs, immediately stop the activity and rest for a few days. If continued pain persists, see a doctor. • Use the proper equipment. Do not wear old or worn running shoes. • When participating in any new sports activity, set incremental goals. For example, do not immediately set out to run five miles a day; instead, gradually build up your mileage on a weekly basis. • Cross-training - alternating activities that accomplish the same fitness goals -- Instead of running every day to meet cardiovascular goals, run on even days and bike on odd days. Add some strength training and flexibility exercises to the mix for the most benefit. • Maintain a healthy diet. Make sure you incorporate calcium- and vitamin D-rich foods in your meals. • Remember that if you recognize the symptoms early and treat them appropriately, you can return to sports at your normal level.

62|

hen athletes put great stress on their bodies, the damage to bones may be too much for the body to repair, potentially ending a player’s season or even career Considering the forces involved in many sports, it’s no surprise that professional athletes sustain serious injuries to their muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones. A spate of bone fracture–related injuries dogged professional basketball teams in the US in 2009. The Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association lost seven-time all-star Tracy McGrady to seasonending micro fracture surgery in February. Rocket’s team physician Tom Clanton then announced in the Houston Chronicle that all-star center Yao Ming’s fractured foot, which he sustained in a play-off game against the Los Angeles Lakers, has worsened over time and may end his career. The possibility that New York Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran had a micro-fractured knee turned fans and fantasy baseball owners into nervous wrecks. Such an injury ended the career of NBA star Jamal Mashburn. So how do these fractures develop? And why can they have such impact on athletes’ careers, in some cases forcing players into early retirement? A bone that is constantly under stress will eventually weaken or give. The body keeps up with these stresses by generating osteoblasts, cells that make bones. At the same time there are osteoclasts—cells that take away older diseased or broken bone, or bone that is worn out. You have a balance between osteoblastic activity and osteoclastic activity. Eventually osteoclastic activity wins out, and that is literally the breaking point. Speculation was that Beltran might have had a micro-fracture in his knee. What is the difference between a micro-fracture and a stress fracture? They are almost the same except maybe the location where they occur. You don’t see too many stress fractures in the knees. Stress fractures are more an issue of overuse. A micro-fracture could be caused by trauma, like getting hit by something. An MRI can generally give you an answer between a bone bruise [which Beltran was diagnosed with] and a micro-fracture without secondguessing. If you look at the foot from the side, the tarsal navicular bone sits at the top of the arch. It is a bone you could equate to a keystone of an arch—the stone that keeps an arch from falling in on itself. It carries a lot of weight. The bone is in the mid-tarsal region, where the heel bone and forefoot meet. There is a lot of stress and force on that bone. Without a good blood supply you will not get the osteoblast cells. These areas are “nonunions”—they will not heal—due to the poor blood supply. Under the best conditions, say you were a relatively healthy and nonsmoking young person and you had no big competition in front of you, the textbook would say eight to 12 weeks as time for recovery. A problem is that pros rush back to play. Sometimes they put titanium screws and plates in to take the stress, but the bones may not heal.

QUICK FACT .........................................................................

DID YOU KNOW? Pauline Konga (5000m) was the first Kenyan female runner to medal at the Olympics

LAST BOW OF THE EMPEROR IAAF Recap of the End of the Track Career of Two-Time Olympics Winner, Haile Gebrsellasie

A

thens, 2004 - For Jos Hermens, the 10,000m final on Friday (August 20, 2004) night was an event of strangely mixed emotions. The common stereotype of an athletes’ manager is of a ruthless, hard-bitten, wheeler and dealer, someone always looking for the next best deal, seeking to promote the latest talented star to attract the attention and dollars of meet directors around the world.

Mixed emotions as Championship track career ends But on Friday night, nothing could have been further from this managers’ mind. For more than a decade now, the jewel among Hermens’ large stable of international athletes has been Haile Gebrselassie, the Ethiopian ‘emperor’ who’s achievements on the track over the last 12 years have redefined what it is to be a successful distance runner. On Friday, Hermens and nine members of his staff watched with a mixture of pride, elation and the heaviest of hearts as Gebrselassie staged a final act to his international championship track career worthy of an ancient Greek tragedy. The 31 yearold, who was aiming to become the first athlete ever to win three consecutive Olympic track titles, was beaten by his two young friends and training partners, Kenenisa Bekele and Sileshi Sihine – two runners also managed by Hermens. He finished a tired and emotional fifth, his crown passing on, once and for all, to Bekele. “Watching that race was very strange for me,” says Hermens, 36 hours after the final curtain came down. “It was so hard to know what to feel. Of course, it was great to see two of our athletes winning so well. But it was also a farewell for Haile; an end of something special. I even cried a little to be honest with you.” Haile’s future is on the roads, there will be no more championship track races.

|63


BLAST FROM THE PAST Not even his family believed he was injured In truth both Gebrselassie and Hermens’ knew the gold medal was out of reach long before the 10,000m final started, but both were hoping they could repeat their success in the World Championships last year when Geb took the silver behind Bekele. Gebrselassie had been suffering from inflammation on his Achilles tendon for five weeks before he came to Athens, a problem that became so acute after he had won a morale boosting 5000m in London on 30 July that he had only been able to jog for 30 to 35 minutes at a time. “You can imagine how much fitness he lost,” says Hermens. “You saw the result of that in the race.” Neither Hermens nor Gebrselassie thought he was fit enough to race in Athens, but the pressure on him to compete was intense. “It was not just from the federation,” says Hermens. “Even the president of the country called him. “Haile didn’t want to run because he knew he was not in top fitness. But he said to me, ‘Jos, even my family don’t believe I am injured’. He had problems before Atlanta and Sydney too, and won golds both times, so people just thought it was the same. They said: ‘Hey, you did it then, why not now?’” Gebrselassie’s heroic performances in the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games will live long in the minds of all who saw them, and have already gone down as two of the greatest distance races of all time. For all the brilliance of his 18 World records and four consecutive World 10,000m titles, it is those Olympic finals that will transcend the record books and live in the folk memory of the sport for years to come. He may have finished ‘only’ fifth here in Athens, but Gebrselassie’s decision to run on Friday, albeit under duress, provided another iconic Olympic moment as his two teammates slowed the race down to give him a chance of a medal, putting their own victory in jeopardy.

No extra damage but road race plans are on hold Thankfully, according to Hermens, Gebrselassie’s planned road racing career was never put under serious threat by his painful efforts to give Ethiopia a clean sweep on Friday, although he did spend until midnight the following day visiting specialist sports physios in Athens to ensure the strain of Friday’s race had caused no further damage. Hermens and Gebrselassie sought out three of the most highly respected sports doctors in

64|

the world on Saturday – Dr Andreas Goessete from Switzerland, and Drs Mueller Wohlfahrt and Lothar Heinrich from Germany – all of whom gave optimistic verdicts. “They told us the damage has not got any worse,” said Hermens. “Haile just needs a break now. He will stay here in Athens during the Games to be treated because all the good people are here.” His future career may not be in jeopardy, but Gebrselassie’s scheduled outings at the Great North Run and the Amsterdam Marathon, both planned for this autumn, are in serious doubt. “We are talking to the organisers this week,” says Hermens. “But really he needs to take the time to recover and, for the first time, we have time. There’s no need to hurry. The injury has to heal completely.” In the past, says Hermens, Gebrselassie’s famous commitment to reaching his targets means he has often started running again before he’s fully recovered. “Haile is such a very focused and goal oriented person. His mind is so strong, which is part of what makes him so fantastic as a runner, but it also means he will go through the pain when he should be resting.” One of the things that has made Gebrselassie such a special star is that his ‘strong mind’ is allayed to one of the biggest hearts in sport. His genuine warmth and humanity, so often displayed to the world through that wonderful smile, has set him apart from many others on the international stage.

More like a father to Haile On Saturday, as they scurried around Athens going from doctor to doctor, Hermens read out newspaper reports of the previous night’s drama, pointing out to Gebrselassie the legacy he has left to track and field. “I told him, ‘Hey Haile, this is what it means to people’,” says Hermans. “He knows it – maybe not like you and I – but even yesterday, people were coming up to him all the time. He’s modest, but he’s very proud too.” At times, Hermens’ relationship to his most famous client seems less like manager and athlete than father and son. Hermens’ respect for Geb is not the cold assessment of an agent eyeing a sporting talent, but built of intimate knowledge of an “incredible person”. Gebrselassie has now lost his two most precious World records, his World title and his Olympic crown to Bekele, but he passes on the mantle with joy not resentment. “He is not the type of athlete who doesn’t want anyone to be better than him,” says Hermens. “He’s delighted with Kenny’s

(Bekele) success. He guides him every day, not just in athletics but in life. He is a very wise and responsible role model.” Hermens believes Geb has the kind of wisdom that will one day make his a great politician. “He surely has to be President of his country sooner or later,” he says.” To me he is like a Mandela, he really could be that important for his country. He has the same charisma, warmth, empathy and passion, but also the same practical wisdom, a wisdom that doesn’t come from education.” Gebrselassie’s commitment to his country is in no doubt. Indeed, it drove him to attempt the impossible on Friday in a race, he knew, would be of huge significance. Afterwards, he was drained and shattered. No-one can remember the last time he finished fifth. But by the end of those 25 laps his position hardly mattered. “It was very emotional for him,” says Hermens of Gebrselassie’s reaction after the race. “He knew it was his farewell. For him it was such a huge step. He can always look back, but leaving something behind that has been so important to him is hard. Afterwards, he was emotional, yes, very. “But he was also relieved. He knew he was saying goodbye and he knew he wasn’t going to get gold. So at the end there was relief. It was like he could say, ‘OK, that is over and done with, now let’s move on.’” “After Sydney and Edmonton he had plans to move up to the marathon too. But things have been so up and down in the last two years. Now the decision is clear: track running is over and he is looking forward to four or five wonderful years of road racing. He has a lot of new goals and challenges, and is highly motivated. Definitely, this time he is really ready.”

Come with me, one last time As his speed has waned over the last couple of years, some people have suggested that Gebrselassie should have allowed his astonishing victory over Paul Tergat in Sydney to be his final scene on the track. But Hermans doesn’t agree. “You couldn’t write a better story book ending than what happened on Friday,” he says. “The way the other guys went back for him. That wasn’t planned, it was just their feelings for him. “Afterwards I said to Kenny, ‘You are the new king, but what you did was fantastic’. It was the young king going back to the old king and saying, ‘Hey, come with me, one last time’. It was unbelievable. And it was good for the sport too. It showed it is not just about gold medals, but human beings.” In Haile’s case, incredible ones.


BLAST FROM THE PAST

BEGINNING OF JELIMO ERA The IAAF Details Pamela Jelimo’s Epic Triumph at the Bird’s Nest

B

eijing, China - Here’s the bad news for women 800m runners: Pamela Jelimo has only just begun. Only just begun winning titles. Only just begun breaking records. Only just begun a new era for Kenyan women’s athletics. At the age of 18 it’s hardly surprising that Jelimo is looking to the future. But after winning Olympic gold on Monday, improving her African Area and World junior record, the astonishing teenager wasted little time in setting her sights on the next big goal. In just four months of competing at 800 metres she has run 11 races, broken four World junior records, three African records, won an African championships title, and now taken the Olympic gold – the lifelong dream of so many athletes throughout long, long careers. It took Kelly Holmes, the 2004 champion, three Olympics and years of heartache to get there. And yet Jelimo has done it in her first year as an international at her first senior championships. What more could she want? “The Olympic record?” she says. “For sure. I know that I have the talent to do that. It’s something we’ve been aiming for in Kenya and I think that with more effort, it’s something we can do it.” “I am looking forward now. As we proceed and do better training, I think that I can do better.”

No more ‘out of this world’

Ibrahim Hussein

66|

The women’s World 800m record – of 1:53.28 by Jarmila Kratochvilova in 1983 – has long been regarded as one of those “untouchable” achievements, a set of figures that just sits there at the top of the start lists, year after year, because few people ever come close to it. But with the meteoric rise of Jelimo, a rise from complete obscurity to the pinnacle of international success, that

‘out of this world’ mark has started to come back into orbit. Jelimo’s winning time in Beijing of 1:54.87 was the ninth fastest ever, and makes her the sixth fastest two-lap runner in history. She also claimed the honour of being the first woman from Kenya to win an Olympic title as she set the National Stadium alight with a stunning last lap of 59.46 and led her friend and compatriot, Janeth Jepkosgei, the 2007 World champion, to a Kenyan one-two. Her record-setting potential apart, that achievement in itself marks the beginning of a new era, a kind of coming of age for Kenya’s women athletes who have often lived in the shadow of their male counterparts. “I can see the focus might shift now more to women” Wilson Kipketer, the Kenyan-born Dane who holds the men’s 800m World record, believes it’s this that makes the emergence of Jelimo and Jepkosgei so exciting for Kenyan athletics. Speaking in London just a few weeks ago, Kipketer talked about this new female duo who have taken the female version of his old event by storm over the last two seasons. “It’s great to see Kenyan women coming to greatness now,” he said. “These women can be around for a long time. We have had great marathon runners like Catherine Ndereba and Tegla Loroupe but Jepkosgei and Jelimo now are coming up behind them. “It’s interesting because I can see the focus might shift now more to women than to the men in Kenya. If you look at records, Kenyan men have been breaking records for years, but not the women. Now is their chance.” For Kipketer the emergence of Jelimo and

her teammate also has a social significance that may reflect a shift in Kenyan society. “In the past,” he says, “Kenyan women would mostly go and compete and then go back to Kenya. But now some are staying in Europe to train, and they have their own training camps in Kenya.” “This is the start of a change in Kenya, where they no longer have to be a mother, or stay in the family. So these women are really starting something, they are becoming more like professional athletes.”

Victory dedicated to mother It’s fitting, then, that Jelimo dedicated her Beijing gold medal to her mother, Rodah Jeptoo Keter, a former amateur runner herself who has played a major part in encouraging her daughter’s progress. “During her time there was no motivation to be in sports,” Jelimo says. “So she used to encourage me when I got down about my form and progress. She always told me I would do better. She’s the reason I’m able to be the best.” In fact her mother used to run 200 and 400m, just as Jelimo did in Koyo Secondary school, where she started running aged 13 in 2003. The school’s in Kapsabet, the cradle of Kenyan 800m runners, home not only of Jepkosgei, but of Wilfred Bungei and Wilson Kipketer too. “They all hail from my area, so I have many role models to look up to,” she says. Clearly talented, by 2004 the young Jelimo, the fourth of nine children, had reached her local provincial championships running 400m. In 2005 she qualified for

“It’s great to see Kenyan women coming to greatness now. These women can be around for a long time.”

the nationals at both 200 and 400, but then didn’t run in 2006 because it was her final year of school. 400 to 800 - “I took some persuading and it was hard to change” Last year she returned to the track and in July was selected for Kenya’s African junior team for Ouagadougou. She won gold at 400m in 54.93 and set a new national junior record for the 200m of 24.68. Jelimo had always thought of herself as a sprinter, and this success only encouraged that view. But her coach, Zaid Aziz, suggested she should change, and her mother and Jepkosgei played a part in persuading her to give the two laps a try. “They told me that I can do better at 800 than 200 and 400,” she says. “I took some persuading and it was hard to change. But I didn’t give up. I trained and trained, and as things went on I found that I got better.” By then she had joined the Kenya Police Force and was training with Jepkosgei, the recently crowned world champion. Between September 2007 and January 2008 their tough training alternated between Embu and Kapsabet. Then, on 19 April 2008 in Nairobi, she lined up for her first 800m race at the Kenyan African championship trials. She clocked 2:01.02 to gain selection for Addis Ababa. Then in Ethiopia’s capital she coasted to the final, where she lined up against the Mozambique legend, Maria Mutola.

Mutola – “I have never seen anything like her” Most 18-year-olds would’ve been terrified. Not Jelimo. After winning in 1:58.70, an incredible time at altitude, she was finally converted to the 800m. “I was running in an event which I did not even think was mine and to win the heat gave me morale,” Jelimo said. “When I beat Mutola in the final, I was overjoyed.” “It was a morale booster and meant a lot to me. It was the start of a new journey in my life.” Mutola, left gasping in second place, couldn’t believe it. “She is something else. I have never seen anything like her,” she said. Four months, 11 races and an Olympic gold later, the world is now saying the same thing.

|67


MARATHON PEN PIXES

MARATHON PEN PIXES

...Continued from page 59

By WMM

By WMM

PRISCAH JEPTOO

EMMANUEL MUTAI

BIRTH DATE: 26 June 1984 PERSONAL BEST: 2:20:14 (London, 2012)

I

n six career marathons Priscah Jeptoo has three first place finishes, two seconds and a third. Her most recent effort was a solid 2:20:14 at London, knocking two minutes off her career best that saw her included in the London 2012 Olympics squad after Boston winner and Worlds bronze medallist, Sharon Cherop, ruled herself out of contention. Jeptoo had an impressive negative split run at the 2011 World Championships to secure the silver medal. Jeptoo had a previous strong run in South Korea as she won the Goyang HalfMarathon on March 6 in a personal best 1:10:26. A month later she won the Paris Marathon in 2:22:55, the second fastest time ever run there. The soft spoken, Jeptoo is yet another cornerstone of an emergent generation of Kenyan female athletes with strong family backgrounds that has emerged from the shadows of traditional dictates to take the world by storm. Like her peers in this group, husband Douglas Chepsirot has shelved his own running career to support Jeptoo, who

68|

BIRTHDATE 12 October 1984 PERSONAL BEST: 2:04:40 (London, 2011)

bears his surname with pride to develop her own, taking care of the home and family investments whenever she is engaged in training and travelling for competition. Jeptoo started running when she enrolled at Chemnoet Primary School in the village of her birth for her formative education before she moved on to Itigo Girls High School that is in the Kenyan Western Province where she

left after clearing her O-Levels in 2004. “I was very happy and I want to give my best although I cannot predict where I will finish. Just like in Daegu, we shall work together to ensure we repeat what we did and make more history so that this generation of female marathoners can be remembered for long,” she said of her maiden Olympics aspirations.

WORLD MARATHON MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS 22Aug12 27Aug11

Virgin London Marathon 3rd IAAF World Championships, Daegu 2nd

2:20:14 2:29:00

ADDITIONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS 10Apr11 14Nov10 25Apr10 08Nov09

Paris Marathon Turin Marathon Padua Marathon Porto Marathon

1st 1st 2nd 1st

2:22:55 2:27:02 2:30:53 2:30:40

QUICK FACT .........................................................................

DID YOU KNOW? Pamela Jelimo was the first Kenyan female runner to win Olympic gold.

Continued on page 59...

A

fter three straight runner-up finishes at World Marathon Majors races, Emmanuel Mutai broke through with his first victory in a big way. At last years Virgin London Marathon, he crushed the field with a sub-62 minutes second half as his 2:04:40 smashed the course record and made him the fourth fastest marathoner in history at the time. At New York City in November, Mutai lost the battle but won the war. His final time of 2:06:28 left him 82 seconds behind winner Geoffrey Mutai, but his second place finish scored him enough points to take home the half-million World Marathon Majors prize for 2010-2011. He made a break-through to world class marathoning in 2007. Had it not been for Haile Gebrselassie’s world record of 2:04:26 at Berlin, Mutai would have been the fastest marathoner in the world in 2007. Certainly there was no bigger surprise than the 2:06:29 the 23-year-old turned in to win the 2007 Amsterdam Marathon as earlier in the year he had run just 2:13:06 to place seventh at Rotterdam. In that race he had gone out at a brisk pace of 1:03:54 for the first half, but on

that warm day he slumped to more than 69 minutes for the second half. At Amsterdam with the weather close to ideal, Mutai actually had a slower first half split (1:03:56) than Rotterdam and with the competition keeping up the pressure didn’t secure the victory until the last kilometer. His second half took just 1:02:33. Mutai managed to shave 14 more seconds off his PR with his 2:06:15 at the 2008 London Marathon. Despite trailing winner Martin Lel by exactly one minute, Mutai ran the fastest fourth place time ever. After a fifth place in Chicago that October, he returned to London in 2009 and once again placed fourth.

At the 2009 World Championships, Mutai was the final challenger to eventual winner Abel Kirui. He fell back in the final five kilometres and despite being physically sick down the final stretch to the finish line, Mutai was rewarded with the silver medal. His time of 2:07:48 was under the previous World Championships record by 43 seconds. London 2010 was the site of his second straight World Marathon Majors runner-up finish. He produced his fourth lifetime sub2:07, just eight seconds off his PR. Although his London defence fell through, Mutai’s pedigree saw him entered for his first Olympics when Moses Mosop, the Chicago winner who had been previously given the nod pulled out through injury.

WORLD MARATHON MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS 22 Apr 12 06 Nov 11 17 Apr 11 07 Nov 10 25 Apr 10 22 Aug 09 26 Apr 09 12 Oct 08 13 Apr 08

Virgin London Marathon ING New York City Marathon Virgin London Marathon ING New York City Marathon Virgin London Marathon IAAF World Championships, Berlin Flora London Marathon Bank of America Chicago Marathon Flora London Marathon

ADDITIONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS 21Oct07 15Apr07

Amsterdam Marathon Rotterdam Marathon

7th 2nd 1st 2nd 2nd 2nd 4th 5th 4th

2:08:01 2:06:28 2:04:40 2:09:18 2:06:23 2:07:48 2:06:53 2:15:36 2:06:15

1st 7th

2:06:29 2:13:06

|69


MARATHON PEN PIXES

MARATHON PEN PIXES

By WMM

By WMM

ABEL KIRUI

WILSON KIPSANG

BIRTHDATE 4 June 1982 PERSONAL BEST: 2:05:04 (Rotterdam, 2009)

BIRTHDATE 1 January 1990 PERSONAL BEST: 2:03:42 (Frankfurt, 2011)

W

ilson Kiprotich Kipsang destroyed one of the greatest marathon fields ever assembled at April’s London Marathon to underline his status as one of the hottest properties in the ultimate distance race. Although his winning time of 2:04:44 missed the course record by four seconds, he wound up more than two minutes ahead of the runner-up. Kipsang also missed by four seconds the world record of 2:03:38 at Frankfurt last October. He is one of only two men (Haile Gebrselassie the other) to have broken 2:05 for the marathon on three occasions. He has great speed for the half-marathon with a 58:59 personal best. In 2009 Kiprang was fourth at the IAAF Half-Marathon World Championships. The Kenya Police officer who belatedly started his career after engaging in sales is keen on succeeding his comrade, the late Samuel Wanjiru as Olympic champion in London on his return to the city where he left jaws dropped. Having been listed among the six probables for the Olympics, there was little doubt about his ticket when he beat three others in the line-up, world record holder, Patrick Makau, Emmanuel Mutai and world champion Abel Kirui to the tape.

70|

WORLD MARATHON MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS 22 Apr 12

Virgin London Marathon

1st

2:04:40

1st 1st 1st 3rd

2:03:38 2:06:13 2:04:57 2:07:13

ADDITIONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS 30Oct11 07Mar11 31Oct10 11Apr10

Frankfurt Marathon Lake Biwa (Otsu) Marathon Frankfurt Marathon Paris Marathon

QUICK FACTS .........................................................................

DID YOU KNOW? • runner, Bernard Lagat, won two Olympics medals competing for Kenya • Kipchoge Keino remains the only Kenyan to have won gold at two Olympics editions. • No country in Africa beats Kenya’s success at the Olympics • Javelin thrower Julius Yego will be the first Kenyan field athlete to compete at the Olympics

A

bel Kirui might not have expected to stay anywhere close to Haile Gebrselassie who went after and set a new world record at the 2007 Berlin Marathon, but Kirui had every reason to be proud of his effort there. Taking every advantage of ideal running conditions and the fast course, he smashed his previous personal best by almost four full minutes and finished in second place with a 2:06:51. Kirui was the sixth fastest man in the world for 2007. The previous year at Berlin he finished in the top 10 with a time of 2:17:47. Ten weeks later, running under challenging heat and humidity in Singapore, he managed to take more than two minutes off that time. Kirui then made an even bigger improvement in Vienna in April 2007 when he placed third in 2:10:41. Kirui’s first marathon in 2008 was as a pace-setter for Gebrselassie at Dubai in January where he did not complete the race. He did not finish the Tokyo International Marathon in February, but was a big winner when he returned to Vienna two months later and set a new course record. He again joined Gebrselassie at Berlin

in September and although passing 30km in 1:28:25, a couple of seconds ahead of the world-record holder, Kirui did not make it to the finish line. Six months later at Rotterdam he reached the finish in spectacular fashion. Although somewhat overlooked behind the KwaliaKibet battle ahead, Kirui clocked a 2:05:04 to make him the sixth fastest man in history with the eighth fastest time. Kirui was the fastest entrant in the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. He was among a group that passed halfway in 1:03:03. By 35km, it was down to Kirui and teammate Emmanuel Mutai in 1:44:56, 2:20 ahead of the event record split from 2003.

With 5km to go, Kirui moved ahead and stretched the lead, breaking the finish line tape in 2:06:54, a World Championships record by 97 seconds. Running his first London Marathon in 2010, Kirui stayed with eventual winner Tsegaye Kebede until the final few miles, before falling back to fifth place. After a ninth place at New York in 2010 and a non-finish in London in April 2011, Kirui struck gold again at the World Championships in Daegu. Burning a 14:18 split at 30km - the fastest 5km split in World Championships history - he went to win by record margin of 2:38 with the second fastest WC time of 2:07:32. Having established himself as a championship war horse, Kenya can place her hopes of holding on to the crown won by the late Samuel Wanjiru in Beijing who broke the Olympic Marathon duck for Kenya with a 2:06:32 event record.

WORLD MARATHON MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS 22 Apr 12 04 Sep 11 25 Apr 11 07 Nov 10 25 Apr 10 22 Aug 09 02 Nov 08 28 Sep 08 30 Sep 07

Virgin London Marathon IAAF World Championships, Daegu Virgin London Marathon ING New York City Marathon Virgin London Marathon IAAF World Championships, Berlin ING New York City Marathon real,- Berlin Marathon real,- Berlin Marathon

6th 1st DNF 9th 5th 1st DNF DNF 2nd

2:07:56 2:07:38

3rd 1st

2:05:04 2:07:38

2:13:01 2:08:04 2:06:54 2:06:51

ADDITIONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS 05Apr09 27Apr08

Fortis Rotterdam Marathon Vienna City Marathon

|71


Deploying ICT, changing lives

At Octopus ICT Solutions, we are changing lives through the deployment of ICT. Our expertise horned by years of experience proudly makes us...

...East Africa’s leading e-Learning Specialists!

We have over 500 courses in IT, Business and Professional development which students can buy online or acess them using our

EzzyLearnng Scratch Cards! .com ict.com sict us opu ctop o . w ww

.oct ww

w

Study E

POW

, EM

ING

CAT

EDU

,E

ING

CAT

EDU

NG ING BLI ABL ENA & EN ING WER MPO

G& RIN

y y e toda e toda onlin udy00onlin 00 ver 5 vSetr 5

s oel so el Acces catAiocncelsevcation lev i al fi al Certif roCfeerstsiion rosfeess.sion ses. r P P ur u o o & & c c ITnt IT nt lopme eveloptimmee! ! D y Deve ytime . An . An here.. nywhere.. A

Anyw

u by

t to yo

brough

u by

t to yo

brough

00 00 . 1,0 . 1,0 Ksh rse unit Ksh rse unit cou cou Per Per af

af over le over le s see s see ction ction instru instru l l a a v v trie trie urse re urse re For co For co

Call on us today

Tel:+254 20 6007 420/3 or 0712 055 619

www.octopusict.com

|73


74|


The Kenyan Runner Magazine 7th Edition