Lawi Lalang focuses on the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon next year, A view from Kenya, by Lawi Lalang

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DSCN7431-001-2.JPGLawi Lalang, photo by Kenyan Athlete

Justin Lagat interviewed Lawi Lalang for RunBlogRun a week ago. Here is another fine piece from our Kenyan correspondent, Justin Lagat.

Lawi Lalang focuses on the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon next year, by Lawi Lalang
Some of Kenya's top runners that include Henry Rono, Paul Ereng, Bernard Lagat, Peter Rono, Sally Kipyego and Betsy Saina, among others, established and continue to establish their names and careers in the US.
Lawi Lalang, the 8 times NCAA Champion, is now already making headlines at some major international competitions barely one year after leaving college to become a professional runner and is optimistic of making a great impact in the near future.
Lawi gives credit to his brother elder Boaz Lalang, the 2010 800m Commonwealth Games' Champion, for first of all setting a good example for him to follow and also for advising and encouraging him to get a scholarship in the US.
"I really thank God for the chance that I got to go to the US. There are so many things that I learned in USA, that I would have missed had I stayed here in Kenya; especially to do with growing as a person and also as an athlete," said Lalang.
Lawi Lalang studied public health at the University of Arizona because helieves that the course presents greater opportunities for him to serve the people, the government and even the NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations).
Public health was the one course with graduates currently on high demand. "What I have done so far is still in the pre medicine, but I am planning to advance my studies in one area of medicine in the near future. And, that could be in epidemiology," he added.
Like most of Kenya's athletes based in the US, Lalang prefers to come and train in Kenya occasionally. "Kenya has ideal training places on high altitudes. Even though it is possible to get the same high altitudes in other countries too, here in Kenya one gets to train alongside world champions and study how they live, train and behave in their daily routines. Sometimes, it really pays a lot to train with one's role model and coming to Kenya makes that possible," Lalang said.
However, while Kenya is ideal for athletes to train and reach their top level of fitness, Lalang observed that there are very limited opportunities for runners in Kenya to make their dreams come true.
"Upcoming runners in Kenyan colleges, unlike in the US, lack support from fans, parents and shoe companies. For example, it is hard to know the names of the athletes who win at the University championships in Kenya. The universities here in Kenya also do not work with sports brands to provide their athletes with the required training facilities. Most parents also in Kenya don't even care to attend competitions when their children are participating." Lalang though, believes that if companies and fans change their attitude, then running in Kenya can be able to provide opportunities for young runners here as it is doing in the US.
Lalang doesn't want to be influenced by the group of marathon runners he currently trains with at the Global Sports camp in Kaptagat and will still keep focusing on the 1500m to 5000m track races. "Maybe, the most I can do is a 10km road race," said Lalang, who currently trains with Eliud Kipchoge, Geoffrey Kamworor, Emmanuel Mutai and Brimin Kipruto, among others.
"As an athlete, one should know that people are different and have got different abilities. Someone like Kamworor is able to run distances ranging from 1500m on track up to the full marathon on the road. Others do well only in the marathon. Perhaps for me, my distances could be from 1500m to 10,000m," Lalang added.
Next year will be an Olympic year and having run against some of the world's best runners in recent competitions, Lalang now believes that he has a potential to make the Kenyan Olympic team to Rio.
But, first, his immediate focus now is on making the team to the IAAF world indoor championships in Portland, Oregon, USA.
"I always hope for the best and next year is a great year with great opportunities. God willing, I really want to make the team to the world indoor championships and also to the Olympic Games as well," said Lalang.

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