Breaking world records is not a rarity nowadays given the advancement in training methods, diet, better coaching and facilities for athletes. So when an athlete who does not have a long history of racing cuts nearly five minutes of her personal best in a race where quite a significant portion of the course is uphill, it does raise some eyebrows.
Joyciline Jepkosgei, last weekend became the first woman to go below 65 minutes for the half marathon and by so doing set new world records for the 10K, 15K and 20k. This is a no mean fete in a single race, considering her last race of a similar distance in Marseilles Karlovy Vary Half Marathon saw her finish on 67:02. That means she knocked off two minutes from her previous race.
By 14:53 she had passed the 5k marks, before breaking out the red pen for the record books. She crossed 10K in 30:04. She then 15K in 45:37 (37 seconds faster than the previous record) and then 20K in 1:01:25 (15 seconds faster than the previous record) before crossing the finish line.
The 23-year-old has raised many eyebrows with her performances, given that her personal best in 2016 was 69:07, which was a course record at the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon in the Czech Republic.
Jepkosgei also ran the Marseille Cassis Classic 20K in a course record 67:02. That race was won in 2014 in 70:04 and in 2015 in 76:01 by Peres Jepchirchir, who earlier in the year ran 65:06 for the previous half marathon world record and Jepkosgei took third. It’s a course where about nine kilometers are uphill. This change the understanding of how big of a jump Jepkosgei is making when she drops her personal best by nearly five minutes.
After the RAK Half Marathon, Jepkosgei had a minor soft tissue injury in her foot yet still ran the Kenyan National cross-country championships finishing position 17th. She took a break after the cross-country race to prepare for Prague.
But what are the conditions necessaryto build up a champion and record breaking one for that matter.
Coach BenardOuma of Rongai Athletics club (RAC) on the outskirts of Nairobi contends that there are a number of determining factors necessary for building a champion.
Long-term Athlete Development (LTAD)
- The 10 – year Rule (ACTIVE START – ACTIVE LIFE).
- Development Age.
- Physical, Mental, Cognitive and Emotional Development.
- Calendar Planning for competitions.
- System Alignment and Integration.
- Continuous Improvement.
We all know that high levels of training or practice are required to attain expertise.
Research on skill development clearly supports the relationship between training/practice and skill acquisition.
Coach Ben continued, “The perfection years are when now the talent is not debatable, the field is known and now all that remains is becoming exceptional at whatever line of competition the athlete prefers”.
From the sampling to the dual stage an athlete’s incubation period so to speak might take close 6 to 10 years of consistent preparation and competition, gradually with the sole aim of building up a champion.
Having said this, one can now place this performance out of the world from Joyciline against the likes of Bolt, Mo Farah and Keitany, athletes who have been competing since they were in lower primary. And here we have an athlete who did not participate in any sort of games in high school. Joyciline’s started training as an athlete just slightly over three years ago.
Another renown coach who did not want to be named when asked he poised to us this question, “when you consider the best times of Genzebe Dibaba, Paula Radcliffe and Mary Keitany etc etc at their best and with some track development in early years …this one has done what on track and been road running for how long ?
Anyway …current lady running 29:43 … with no track pedigree…. she will run 2-14. If she is clean then it’s a hell of a story …and the Marathon record might be absolutely trashed, the coach concluded.
Because of this, we ask perhaps the world through Kenya has yet discovered another athletics gem, or we are about to have eggs all over our faces if it is found that the records were shattered improperly. It is important to note that she has not yet been subjected to any out of competition testing and the verdict is still out until it is done.