ANTICIPATIONS, EXCITEMENTS AND EXPECTATIONS FOR 2013:
From the few discussions I have had with my fellow athletes here in Kenya, and also from the comments I have seen on the social sites, it appears that despite not being an Olympic year, this year is still poised to be one of the most exciting ones as far as athletics is concerned. After all, fans who are still nostalgic about the London Olympic Games are yearning to see whether the athletes who performed very well at the Games will continue their prowess this year. Mo Farah, Usain Bolt, Allyson Felix, David Rudisha and Sally Pearson tops the list of the athletes who fans will be watching to see what they can do again this year.
The two major events to take place this year are the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, to be held on the 24th of March in Bydogoszcz, Poland, and the IAAF World Championships, to be held from the 10th to 18th of August in Moscow, Russia. There will also be various IAAF Samsung Diamond Leagues, IAAF World Challenge competitions, Major City Marathons, the World Youth Championships and many other IAAF gold and silver level road races.
There will be much focus on the cross country events across the world during the first quarter of the year. One thing that will be different this year is that the World Cross Country will have a new ingredient to make it more interesting -the Ugandans! This event has always been an affair between the Kenyans and the Ethiopians, with some Eritreans putting up some challenge as well. But this year started with a Ugandan daring some of Kenya's big stars on their home ground when he won the sixth leg of Athletics Kenya's senior men's cross country series in Eldoret, by more than a 60 meter gap!
I can't wait to see what will happen at the World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. One thing is clear. It won't be a race between the Ethiopians and the Kenyans. There may be surprises just like it happened in the London Olympic Games.
After the World Cross, many international track competitions will commence from May. David Rudisha is one athlete about whom I have heard many expressing their expectations that he is very likely to break his own record in the 800m. To others, they believe that Dejen Gebremeskel, of Ethiopia, will be the athlete to watch this year and likely to set a record in either the 3000m or the 5000m event. Someone mentioned Hagos Gebhriwet as the man who may be able to finally break Daniel Komen's 3000m record of 7.20.67.
The climax of the track events will be in Moscow, Russia, during the World Championships. It will be interesting to see Usain Bolt against Yohan Blake in the sprints, together with Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter. David Rudisha, Taoufik Makhloufi and Asbel Kiprop will be the athletes to watch in the middle distance events. In the long distances, Dejen Gebremeskel, Mo Farah and Wilson Kiprop will be among the athletes to watch out for. August is still a long way off and more athletes to watch out for in the World Championships may emerge during the course of the year.
There are the Major Marathons as well. I just came across this big group, the largest training group in Eldoret town, on their first Monday run in 2013, which was more like the "world half" in Iten, and spotted the Ugandan, Stephen Kiprotich, appearing to be in good shape. I wonder whether he will offer another surprise to the Kenyans at the Moscow World Championships. Another athlete I have seen this year also appearing light in his training gear is Denis Kimetto. I am looking forward to seeing what this guy will do again this year. To me, he is one of the most promising athletes this year.
About the world records here, many athletes I approached to hear their views expect Geofrey Mutai to break Patrick Makau's record this year. Others expect Leonard Komon to lower Tadese's half marathon world record. It will be interesting to see what will happen on the roads this year. Will Kenyans manage to win all the major city marathons in the world again?
This year, I am looking forward to some exciting surprises, great moments, new stars emerging and new world records being set. 2012 was such a great year; 2013 may even be a greater one. Time will tell.