This is the second column about the Kenyan Trials by Justin Lagat. He wrote this upon his return to training camp….
HAPPY AND SAD MOMENTS AT THE KENYAN TRIALS, by Justin Lagat
For both the athletes and the fans that turned up at the Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi, where the national trials to select the Kenyan team to Moscow just happened, there were great exciting moments and disappointing moments as well. I’ll start with the exciting moments.
The last lap of the men’s 5000m was a great moment for Edwin Soi, one that I’ll remember long and from which I did derive a lesson. It was in the last 300m that Soi almost dropped out of the race when one of his shoes threatened to come off. He looked again at Augustine Choge, who was then running in third position ahead of him, noticed he was beginning to struggle and decided to still try his luck by limping after him in a fashion that prevented the shoe from coming off completely. He managed to run past Choge with 200m to go and maintained the third position until his shoe came off just as he crossed the finish line. He pointed at the shoe on the ground and knelt down on the track to thank God. The lesson I derived from it is that a small decision can make a great difference; his decision to continue in the race against the odds landed him a spot in the team. Having outsprinted Mo Farah in the 5000m event at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League in Eugene, he definitely is one of the valuable athletes to have in the team to the world championships.
Another great moment happened for Julius Yego, the “you tube guy,” who broke both the national and his personal best record by throwing the javelin to 82.09 meters. For your information, he was nicknamed “you tube guy” after he attributed his success in the javelin to watching and learning the best throwing techniques from You Tube videos. He is the only athlete who qualified to represent the country in the field events.
Despite finishing the race in fifth position, Ezekiel Kemboi excited the spectators in his celebrations. The speakers played his favorite song, “Emily Chepchumba,” and he made the crowd run wild by his dances. The 3000m steeplechase event was very exciting in itself with the fastest time ever run in the distance on Kenyan soil. Ezekiel Kemboi had nothing to lose in the race because he is the world defending champion and already was in the team. This could have been the reason why he would occasionally inject a very fast pace into the race as he wasn’t scared of burning up, and for sure he looked like he got burnt in the last lap when he raised his hand in the air and gave up the chase.
The trials were also marred with disappointing moments, to fans as well as to the athletes.
One huge disappointment was the absence of David Rudisha in the men’s 800m event. To date, it is still uncertain whether the world’s 800m King will recover well in time to run in Moscow.
Sally Kipyego, who had been viewed by many as the potential athlete to take the place of Vivian Cheruiyot, also pulled out of the women’s 10,000m event with an injury. Not only will Kenyans miss her eloquent interviews with press after the races, but the athletes selected will miss her patriotism and teamwork spirit in the world championship race.
Despite finishing in the third place and having won a silver medal for Kenya in the last world championships in Daegu, Brimin Kipruto was not named in the men’s 3000m steeplechase team. Instead, Paul Kipsiele Koech joined the team. This is a disappointment to Brimin and to fans who think that Brimin looks stronger than Koech at the moment.
A few days to the trials, Wilson Kiprop got a bad cold. Depite the fact that he had told me about a month ago that his main focus was not so much in the world championships, he was in the best shape to do something great in the 10,000m race in Moscow. He himself and his fans must have been so disappointed that the cold could not have come at another time. I was too.
I will summarize this article with what Wilson Kiprop told me after I recovered from the disappointment. That, all the athletes that made the team to Moscow wanted as much to do that as those who did not and the best thing to do for now is to support and wish them all the best. There is always the next time.