Well, Kenya finally won their first Commonwealth Games gold. Here’s Justin Lagat’s story on the 800 meters from the Gold Coast! Congrats to Wicliffe Kinyamal on his well run 800 meters!
Kenyans may have been saving the best for the last as Wicliffe Kinyamal wins the first gold medal in the men’s 800m final on the 5th Day of athletics in Gold Coast.
Kenyan fans finally afforded a smile on the 5th day of athletics in Gold Coast when the relatively new kid on the block, Wicliffe Kinyamal beat a stellar field that included the experienced and defending champion, Amos Nijel of Botswana who was on the verge of making history as the first person to win the Games’ men 800m title two times.
Kinyamal had stayed patiently and strategically at a striking distance from the start of the race as Nijel dictated the pace at the front, which was a little unusual for him to take to the front as he is known for his style of upsetting other big runners, especially David Rudisha who holds the world record for the distance, by overtaking them and pulling away in the last 100m.
Today, Nijel was forced to try a new style of front running when no one else seemed to be willing to take the initiative to pace and this eventually resulted in him finishing last despite being at the front with about 150m to go. That was the point when Kinyamal had sprang to the front and never looked back again till he crossed the finish line in 1:45.11. Kyle LangFord of Wales overtook a number of tiring athletes in the last 100m to take the silver medal in a personal best time of 1:45.16 followed by Australia’s Luke Mathews who also finished strongly taking the bronze medal in 1:45.60.
This win will significantly change the status of Kinyamal as he will now become one of the athletes to watch out for in the men’s 800m track events throughout the year.
The first time I ever met Wycliffe Kinyamal personally in my life, was earlier this year, while we were doing some speed workouts on the track in Eldoret. At first, I thought he was a Javelin Thrower or any of the field events’ athletes given the way he was strongly built, compared to the other Kenyans in the field who were jogging with him before the workouts. Then, he caught my attention as a serious runner by the way he was sprinting. He was doing some 300m intervals at a brutal pace and taking a bit longer to recover than what I am used to seeing other Kenyan athletes do before repeating another interval; making sure that each of the intervals he did was of the highest quality. I remember he even had to vomit after finishing one of the intervals.
Hopefully, for Kenyan fans, the door has now been opened by Kinyamal for more gold medals to come in from the other remaining track as well as field events.