Bethwell Birgen back in traiining after six months's injury, A view from Kenya, by Justin Lagat


DSCN7740.JPGBethwell Birgin, photo by

Justin Lagat caught up with Bethwell Birgin at the Pace Management training camp. Just over injuries, Bethwell is training with his focus on the 2016 Olympics.

He is now back in training with even bigger dreams for the Olympics, the World Indoor and the IAAF Diamond League races next year.

For many professional athletes, their greatest fear is getting injured. Early this year, Bethwell Birgen was looking forward to a great championship year and as he intensified his training in April, the worst happened. He picked up a serious injury that unfortunately ended all the ambitions he had for 2015. This week (November 19), I sought him in order to find out how he is doing so far after resuming his training and what plans he has for next year.
"After the indoor season, I came back and decided to train harder with an aim to make the national team to the world championships in Beijing. But, two weeks to the Shanghai Diamond League, I picked up an injury during an interval session at the University of Eldoret's track. I was devastated because I had actually been entered in a number of other big races that included Eugene, Oslo and Birmingham IAAF Diamond League races," said Birgen.
For about four months, he kept trying to treat the injury locally by going for massage sessions, "but it turned out later on that the massage sessions may actually have done more damage to the injury." His management decided to take him to Ireland in September so that a specialized doctor in Dublin could examine him. "The doctor there discovered that my calf muscle had a torn tissue and I went to see a doctor who works with Pace Sports Management for treatment," Birgen Said.
He is now over three weeks in training at the Pace Sports Management camp in Kaptagat and feels alright. "In fact I began my speed work this week and my body is responding very well," he said, adding that he is looking forward to starting competing in some indoor races early next year.
The best moments for Birgen in his running career have always been when he is wearing the national uniforms while representing Kenya at the world events. He has represented Kenya two times at the 1500m event at the world indoor championships and was the only Kenyan who advanced to the finals in Sopot. "What I liked about my achievement in Sopot is that I moved into the finals, which was a step in the right direction. I took that to mean I will also be taking another better step during the next world indoor championships in Portland, and that will be finishing in the top three places," he said.
A quick look at Birgen's background shows that he is one young athlete who was, and is, destined to become a great runner. To begin with, both his parents were great runners during their time. Second, he attended the same high school where his elder brother, Enoch Koech had been an undefeatad runner in the 1500m and also a games captain. So, the games teachers who worked with his brother expected the best from him too and motivated him. Third, another one of his brothers is Bernard Koech, the 2:04.53 marathon runner who will be running against Dennis Kimetto on 6th December at the Fukuoka Marathon in Japan.
Next year is an Olympic year, and although he is a 1500m specialist, don't be surprised to see Birgen toe the start line of the men's 5000m in Rio. "My plans regarding the IAAF Diamond League races, God willing and provided I remain injury free, is to run the 1500m and the mile. However, towards the time when the Kenyan national trials for selecting the team to the Olympic Games in Rio will be done, I may do one 5000m race and see if I can move up to that distance before the Olympics," Birgen said.

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