Justin Lagat provides us something to consider about elite athletes besides their VO2 Max how about how they treat other athletes, and how they contribute to their local community.
Winning a major race is not necessarily enough to make one successful in life and a role model.
September marks the beginning of another exciting road racing season with some major marathons that include Berlin, Chicago, London, and Ney York City being staged in the next three months. Different fans have their favorite runners who they will be rooting for because of different reasons, from what they have seen in them to how they have affected their lives personally.
From my long-time observations as a runner, a sports journalist, and a coach, the question of whether it was the egg or the hen that came first for me has been on whether it is their character traits that make champions or their being champions that change their character traits. But, in all these, there are virtues that keep one a role model in the community for a long time, even after their running careers are over.
I have observed people blaming sports federations and governments for sports personalities who shined during their time and made a lot of money but are living in poverty some years later.
I have also observed that hard-working runners can eventually beat talented runners if they remain disciplined and consistent in their training and progress.
As the road running season begins, one of the things I will be observing in the stars besides their ability to win races is the impact they are having in the community and how they are helping in shaping the future generations, and whether they are worthy to be role models.
Below are some of the simple observations
1. Congratulating others.
Whether they are part of a particular event or not, an athlete who recognizes the efforts of others and takes time to congratulate them on their social media handles or calling them personally are some of the virtues I will be looking out for in my role models.
2. Being there with the community in times of need
In October last year, we lost Agnes Tirop, who was one of the most promising young Kenyan runners, after she was murdered. There was a great show of unity by the athletics community coming together to comfort the family and the community, and that was when I saw some of my role models at the forefront. It is a long list that I am afraid of writing down for fear of leaving out some names.
There was also a great presence by athletes from the neighboring country of Uganda, with Joshua Cheptegei’s foundation donating something to the family.
3. Exemplifying virtues needed in society; hard work, honesty, and humility, among others
Observing a runner progressing from one stage to the next through hard work will automatically turn one into a fan as they see their champion championing what is possible with hard work. Knowing about the other virtues they have that make the world a better place for everyone will endear them even more to fans.