JONATHAN KOMEN AND EMMANUEL SABUNI
Isaiah Kiplang’at Koech is keen to break Kenya’s 10-year 5,000m gold medal drought at the 15th IAAF World Championships that runs at the iconic Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing’s Olympic Park, in China, next year (August 22-30).
Kiplang’at, popularly known as ‘Chairman’, wants to make amends in his bid for a three-time stab at the global bi-annual showpiece. Kenya has failed to win the 12-lap race gold medal since Benjamin Limo, the IAAF Athlete Representative, won the nation’s sole gold medal in Helsinki, Finland, in 2005.
Deep down in his Keringet Village, Nakuru County, when Kiplang’at is all alone sitting by the fire with a glass of Mursik (sour milk) he must wonder if he will set enough speed and endurance to stop the perennial invasion by double Olympic champion Mo Farah and 20-year-old Muktar Edris of Ethiopia, who is already faster over 5,000m than Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebreselasie when they were at that age.
At 20, Muktar Idris set the 12:54.83 world leading time in Stockholm this season. This is unlike Haile Gebreselassie, then 20-year-old, who posted 12:56.96 while Bekele did 12:57.0 at the same age.
But he now enjoys his off-season with a light training, farming and planning for the next season. Kiplang’at, a police officer based in Bungoma County, said: “The 2014 has been a good season for me. I wanted to win gold in 5,000m at the Commonwealth Games, but I did not. In Moscow last year, I just wanted to finish within medal, which I did. I will rectify a few tactical errors I made in Daegu and Moscow and, hopefully, come out victorious in Beijing.” He shot to the front early in Daegu, while he was used a s pace maker in Moscow. He was nick-named ‘Chairman’ after his namesake Isaiah Kiplagat, the Athletics Kenya President. But Kiplang’at, who trains with upcoming athletes, is keen to run a faster time in the season.
Although he basks in an impressive 12:45 all-time mark, Kiplang’at has lofty dreams. “I want to run 12:43 and see if I can hit 12:37. I know it’s not easy but I will give my best shot. I will change tact.
“I have always done the pace-setting in major championships and I think it’s time I got to the middle of the podium. I will not get tired doing this, but I will ensure I tactically handle the final 2,000m,” said Kiplang’at.
Kiplang’at, a former World Youth 3,000m champion, said his family and friends help him overcome the boredom he experiences during off-season moments. “I have had a good outing this season since the body responded well. I feel good ahead of next season,” he said.
But he has a mountain to climb against Mo Farah, who struck gold medal at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia, last year. “That man is damn strong. I need to work on the final kicks. He has studied our trend so well. I must be prepared either slow or high pace. But I will not compete in many Diamond League series meetings,” he said.
Ethiopia’s Dejen Gebremeskel, who competed in 3,000m at the IAAF World Indoors in Sopot in Poland last March, is another Ethiopian to watch. “The journey ahead is not easy. To beat my friend Dejen and the others is no easy. I am really training hard knowing the huge task ahead,” he said.
Courtesy of standardmedia.co.ke