Caleb Ndiku has had a fine year: 3000 meter title in Sopt, 5,000m win in Nike Pre and now, the Commonwealth Games 5,000 meters. In this column, Justin Lagat celebrates Caleb Ndiku’s victory and gives credit to Zane Robertson, the Kiwi bronze medalist, for his hard training and well earned medal.
Kenya’s Caleb Ndiku wins the men’s 5000m Gold in Glasgow
In March, during the finals of the 3000m at the Sopot 2014 world indoor championships, Caleb Ndiku had dyed his hair red. It showed how serious he was about winning the title there and sure did go ahead to battle earnestly for it and won. Inside the Hampden Park stadium in Glasgow during the 5000m finals was the second time I saw him with dyed hair and knew that something special was about to happen. This time round, he had used a golden color, perhaps to show his competitors that he was going for the gold medal, and he did it. One can only guess what would have happened if Mo Farah was in that race.
Of late, the 5000m track event has become more global and competitive to an extent that a pack of athletes usually remain in a pack till the later stages of the race. It wasn’t different here even in the absence of Ethiopians. New Zealand and Ugandan athletes gave Kenyans a rough time, only that the crowding in the pack resulted in an accident between two New Zealand athletes; Nick Willis and Jake Robertson in the last 1000m of the race.
One athlete, from New Zealand, (Zane Robertson), was able to hang on to the two Kenyans, Isaiah Kiplagat and Caleb Ndiku, at the lead on the last lap until up to around the last 300m when Ndiku unleashed a finishing kick that saw the others follow him in a single file. He went on to win the race in 13:12.07,his countryman, Isaiah Kiplagat finished second in 13:14.06 and Zane Robertson of New Zealand took the bronze medal position in 13:16.52 preventing a clean sweep of the podium positions by Kenyans as one other Kenyan, Joseph Kitur came in fourth in a time of 13:17.49. Uganda’s Moses Kipsiro, the defending champion finished 8th.
Caleb Ndiku’s gold medal was the second for Kenya only on the first day of the athletic events in Glasgow. It was also in an event that Kenyans had failed to secure the title at the last edition of the games, which makes it even more valuable. It was also still yet, a second gold medal that Caleb Ndiku has personally won for Kenya this year from various major championships he has gone out to represent the country in.
The bronze medal that went to New Zealand through Zane Robertson is also one that many Kenyan athletes who have been training with the New Zealand twin Brothers (Jake and Zane) in Iten, Kenya for the last 7 years must have been very proud of, me included. Not that I have been training alongside the twin brothers, but I had a great privilege to talk with Zane Robertson in Iten on May 7th this year and was impressed by their commitment and determination to, according to his own words, “prove to the world that it does not matter the color of your skin; with hard work anyone can win.” It will be interesting to watch Zane Robertson and Nick Willis run again in the 1500m.
After Ndiku’s gold medal, Kenya now has 2 gold medals already in its safe and still hunting for 10 more if it is to win the same number of the medals it won in the 2010 New Delhi Games. There are still nine more distance events to be run and some sprints and field events to be participated by Kenyans in Glasgow.