Nijel Amos, Pre Classic 14, photo by PhotoRun.net
Nijel Amos is one of the true characters of our sport. A middle distance runner with a blazing finish, Nijel Amos looks like a man possessed with his final kick. Amos always starts with about 100 meters out. His arms are flailing across his chest, as he gasps and groans for air. As he grabs with his arms for air, Amos makes up space, and in many cases, wins his races. Nijel Amos looks like a You Tube version of the British singer Joe Cocker performing “Cry me a River”.
This interview of Nijel Amos was done by Justin Lagat. Justin writes a weekly column for us on running in Kenya, or one of the athletes who make Kenyan athletics so special. We thank Justin Lagat for his fine writing.
Knowing that Botswana’s Nijel Amos, the 800m London Olympic silver medalist, was in Kaptagat, Kenya, I was certain to meet him in one of the athletic events around Eldoret. However, it did take me quite a while to locate him because I was apparently looking for a person with a different personality, dressed differently and keeping a different company from what I was to find out when I met him.
As I chatted with some athletes at the Tuskys Wareng cross country event, I decided to try my luck by asking them if anyone had seen him. To my surprise, I was asked if I was talking about the guy who was just standing almost right next to me in the group! I turned to look at the simply dressed young man wearing a plain t-shirt and a Nike cap, quickly checked his right arm to see a tatoo inscribed 1.41.73 and as he looked at me and noticed my surprise, he smiled and I saw a familiar tooth. It was him. I took him aside for a brief introduction. He said he knew about RunBlogRun, said a few more nice worlds about the media and was happy to give me a brief interview.
Nijel Amos is in Kenya for training, as he tries out some new twists in his training program and different training destinations to see how it will result for him from next year.
“Training is good for me, I am adapting day by day, I am beginning to love running again and I feel that my body is getting there. Kenya is at a little bit higher (in altitude) than my country and I was struggling a bit with my breathing when I got here, but, I am now getting used to it,” Nijel said.
London 2012 Olympics was one of his major achievements when he recorded his personal best time of 1:41.73, but to him, he doesn’t want to focus only on that. “Every time I run and finish a race, I always count it as the best performance of my life,” he said. “It is about the challenges you go through to reach there. But London was definitely one of my greatest races so far. Many athletes ran their personal bests, national records and Timothy Kitum ran a world junior record in that race,” added Nijel.
For now, Nijel is not thinking about faster times but is just focusing on running and training well to see where it will all end. He is making some changes in his training including going to a gym, which he has never done before. He thinks he still has time to try different training methods now that he is only 22 years of age and that perhaps one time in the future, although he is not focusing on the world record, “if the record was meant to be mine it may happen.”
He will be going for a short Christmas break in December, but plans to come back to Kenya for more training in January to February before shifting his training base to Oregon where he will train under coach Mark Rowland. For the last five years, he has been training in South Africa under a different coach. According to him, his past coach has been great, but he just needs to make some changes and experience some new adventures in his training.
As to whether he studied how to beat Rudisha in their many competitions together, Nijel says he doesn’t focus on anybody else during a race. “To me, there is no Rudisha, no Aman, or anyone else. The eight of us at the start of any 800m race all have the potential to win. But, I have been happy to race against Rudisha because whenever we met we usually ran good times,” said Nijel.
Nijel says Rudisha is a great 800m runner at the moment and that he always loves running against him. “Everyone is great in his own way at his own time; Wilson Kipketer was great at his own time, same to Seb Coe. I believe I will also become great in my own way. Even someone who runs 1:44 may become great in his own way because we all do not face the same odds to get to where we are,” Nijel said.
As a parting word, Nijel admitted that he has so far liked Kenya, especially the culture of running in the country. After seeing thousands of fans come out to support and cheer athletes at the local competitions in Eldoret, he could only wonder, “if the whole of Africa was supporting athletics as Kenyans do, the sport would be far!”