Category Archives: Features

Battle of greats as Girma face Burka in Otawa

Ethiopia’s Tigist Girma will defend her title at the 47th edition of the Ottawa Marathon now renamed to Tartan Ottawa International Marathon that will be held on May 29, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada.

The 28-year-old will battle for honors with the 2018 winner Gelete Burka who is also the course record holder with a time of 2:22.17.

The race organizer has put these two world-class Ethiopians to try and attack the race course that was set in 2018. Burka comes to this race with the second fastest time of 2:20.45 that she got at the 2018 Dubai Marathon where she finished in sixth place while Tigist comes with the fastest time on paper of 2:19.52 that she got at the 2019 Amsterdam Marathon where she took the silver medal.

Tigist who finished in position five at the Tokyo Olympics with a time of 2:21.56, a World Marathon Major and sixth place in Valencia in 2:19.56, trains together with Ruti Aga the 2019 Tokyo Marathon winner, Mare Dibaba, the 2015 world marathon champion and the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist. She is trained by the Ethiopian Olympic marathon coach Haji Adilo.

“I was injured a few times. After the Olympics I didn’t have much of good training, but now I am in good shape and want to do better,” said Tigist. “I want to put my signature in Ottawa for the second time.”

Burka has represented Ethiopia in six successive world outdoor championships and three Olympics. In Rio Olympics six years ago, she finished fifth in the 10,000m with a personal best of 30:26.66. Had it not been for a slight on the part of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) a year later, she might never have turned to the marathon.

“In 2017 I was in Netherlands at the Ethiopian trials for the world championships. I took the top honors in 10,000m with a time of 30:40.87, but the EAF never selected me to the team for the world championships in London,” she explains her smile having vanished now. “After that I stopped track and that is the point when I went to the marathon. So, I trained for the Dubai Marathon where I ran a life time best of 2:20.45.” A year later she won the 2019 Paris Marathon in 2:22.47, then finished third in Chicago in a time of 2:20.55.

“Ottawa is a good memory for me,” she continues. “When I was training I had a bit of a leg problem with an injury to my calf and I came to Ottawa with that injury. Also I got those stomach cramps. It was not easy. That’s why I smiled when I came to the finish,” said Burka.

Burka is faithful to her church, The Glorious Life Church where attends without fail as she is also an usher and a member of the forty-member choir.

The 36 year-old has a rich cabinet as she is the 2008 World Indoor 1500m Champion, the 2006 World Cross Country champion

“The training is going on well and with one month to go I will be in great shape for the course” Burka concluded.

Ethiopian women have enjoyed a 10-year winning streak at the Ottawa Marathon before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event’s cancellation for the past two years.

Eliud Kipchoge: “I struggle with motivation sometimes”

Even for the greatest, running life can be a struggle.

The world’s fastest marathoner Eliud Kipchoge admits that he’s had to dig deep to find the strength to keep going.

Kenya’s Double Olympic men’s marathon champion says he often turns to the millions who have been inspired by his runs, his grandeur achievements, and his motivating quotes.

“I struggle with motivation, but I try all the time to get inspired by fans messages around the world,” Kipchoge said on Wednesday (6 April) during a webinar organised by his NN Running Team to mark five years of the athletics management group.

“I have been inspiring people around the world and [the thought of this] is what sometimes gives me the energy to jump out of bed and do the necessary.”

Marathon man Kipchoge on how he keeps focus

 As amazing as his athletic accomplishments are, the world record holder has always been forthright on how much sometimes his passion hurts.

“In the journey of life, there [are] ups and downs. In marathon, there [are] a lot of challenges, ups and downs. There is pain in training, pain in running,” he shared on the documentary titled Kipchoge: The Last Milestone that focused on his successful attempt to become the first person to run a marathon in under two hours.

The 37-year-old champion cemented his position as the greatest distance runner of all time, by becoming the first man in 40 years to win marathon gold at successive Olympic Games, when he won at Tokyo 2020 in 2021.

And, as he targets an unprecedented third Olympic marathon title at Paris 2024, Kipchoge gave a sneak peak on how he manages to stay focused on his staggering racing goals.

“[When I am running] Many things are always crossing my mind from West to North, East to South, but I try to block them and concentrate fully on the road, concentrate fully on the task ahead and finishing the race,” the Kenyan, who enjoys his long runs, offered.

“After training for four months [for a race] I know that the only way to block what’s in my mind and concentrate fully is by making my mind easy and block any [distracting] messages coming in.”

During the hour-long webinar, the NN Running Team shared insights from the their management, physiotherapist, nutritionist, and Patrick Sang, the lead coach at the simple Kaptagat training camp.

“Running is a team sport. It is no longer an individual event as people think,” four-time Olympic medallist Kipchoge said.

“When NN formed the running team we discovered that the team is especially important especially in marathon running, helping each other both physically and mentally.”

That team was formed in April 2017 by Jos Hermens, who assembled the some of the best distance runners in the world, led by the two fastest marathoners, Ethiopia’s triple Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele, and Kipchoge, to train in structured training camps.

It’s a concept that the man who has won 14 of the 16 major marathons in his career claims has made him a better runner. Kipchoge also explained that during the pandemic he found it difficult to go back to training alone due to lockdown restrictions.

What next for Eliud Kipchoge in 2022

 Kipchoge He opened his season on March 6 running the fastest time ever in Japan of 2:02:40 to win the Tokyo Marathon.

Since then, he has tapered down his training, focusing more on the gym sessions despite not ‘liking the weightlifting’ bit, but he’s enjoying working on his core muscles.

The huge Kelly Clarkson fan has not yet decided if he will do a marathon towards the end of the year, but has just added a new sport on his bucket list.

“I am bad at swimming. I don’t know how to swim…that’s on my bucket list…”


Bolton Marathon Organiser goes missing with race money

THE organiser of the reborn Bolton Marathon has been uncontactable for several months, say runners who have paid their entrance fees.

And Bolton Council says it has had no contact from the organiser about holding the race in 2022 ­– and they would need six months’ notice if it was to go ahead.

A council spokesperson said that organiser Richard Smith – who told The Bolton News in December that the event was still on course to take place on May 15, 2022 at Queen’s Park – had not yet been in contact to make arrangements for the marathon, which was cancelled due to coronavirus in 2020.

Between 1,200 and 1,400 entrants to the marathon, who parted with between £55 and £75 to take part in the race, fear they have been left with no race to compete in while main benefactor Bolton Hospice has not received any proceeds.

The race is estimated to have raised around £100,000.

Mark Nixon, an entrant and ambassador to Bolton Marathon who set up a Facebook investigation group asking if anybody else had further information on the event, originally worked closely with Mr Smith.

He failed to hear from him for around year until November 2021, when he assured him the race was still going ahead.

He said: “I was an ambassador for Bolton Marathon and we would all communicate via a WhatsApp group chat.

“Prior to the virus forcing the marathon to rightly be cancelled and rescheduled, Richard was always very hands-on and enthusiastic.

“On November 26 last year, Black Friday I believe was the first time we had heard from him in over 12 months.

“He said Covid-19 had produced some issues he was dealing with, but nothing he couldn’t ‘fix’.

“He was taking this on as a one-man-band. Myself and fellow ambassadors offered to help him, whether it be posting medals and t-shirts, whatever, just take a chunk off his hands to make everything easier.

“There’s a lot of heated anger around the marathon now, he’s not communicated with the runners directly since last August.

“He said at that point let’s get October out of the way and we’ll look at getting some sort of Black Friday deal for getting more people signed up, launching before Christmas with a proper date for the run.

“Since then, everyone has tried to contact him to no avail. Sadly, us ambassadors who people recognise as being involved have had awful abuse, calling us frauds and what not despite us only trying to help Richard, who has gone AWOL.

“People parted with significant money not just to run, but for t-shirts, hoodies, all sorts of mementos that it looks like they will never receive. It’s not on.

“If he’s bitten off more than he can chew, he should just come out and say that, publicly or privately, and there are so many people who would be willing to take up the mantle and get this great race off the ground.

“He said he had to get personal revenue for the money lost during Covid-19 due to job worries, and he came off social media to protect his own mental health.

“What about everyone else’s mental health? The people getting the abuse? The people who have lost money? He hasn’t thought about that, it seems.

“All of the outstanding money should be donated to Bolton Hospice, whatever is left, that’s the right thing to do.”

Two weeks ago, responding to concerned entrants, Conservative Heaton and Lostock councillor Andrew Morgan of Bolton Council said: “We were aware of plans by a private event organiser to stage the Bolton Marathon in May 2020, but this was postponed by the event organiser.

“We were then made aware of a provisional plan to stage the event in 2021 but again this was postponed by the event organiser.

“Both postponements were fully justifiable due to the pandemic.

“At the time of the 2021 postponement, the event organiser suggested he may try to stage the event this year but we have had no correspondence from the event organiser regarding this.

“Timescales for the staging of major events in Bolton, including engaging with the Safety Advisory Group require at least six months minimum lead-in time.

“In consultation with the chair of the Bolton Safety Advisory Group and as this is not a Bolton Council organised event, we would refer anyone wanting information about this event to the event organiser via the official website or social media pages.”

Needing six-month’ notice for the marathon to go ahead this May, Mr Smith would have had to have been in contact with them in November or December at the latest, which he was not.

In December, Mr Smith told The Bolton News: “Nothing has changed and the marathon is still going ahead next year.

“I know I should have updated everyone, but I have been taking a break from social media for personal reasons, and most of my time has been taken up by a new job.

“I am working really hard in my spare time to put the marathon on for next year.

“I have no interest in making money from the marathon, I want to give back to the local community, which is why I needed to support myself in another job.”

Alice Atkinson, director of income and generation at Bolton Hospice, who were set to benefit from the proceeds of the marathon, said: “We were delighted to be approached by Richard Smith back in 2019 and agreed for Bolton Hospice to be one of the charities to benefit from the Bolton Marathon, through participants choosing to raise sponsorship for the hospice if they wished.

“We were very much looking forward to the event in May 2020 which of course was unable to go ahead. As it stands, we are currently unsure of the future of the event for 2022 and beyond.

“We understand that there is great disappointment amongst those who have signed up and paid for places for the event yet to take place, and hope for a resolution for them soon.

“For anyone who wants to take on a challenge this year to raise funds for Bolton Hospice, we have a number of events taking place with more information available at https://www.boltonhospBolton Safety Advisory

“We are always so grateful to those who choose to support us, to help us be here for everyone in Bolton who needs our expert care and support.”

Mr Smith originally planned to hold the Bolton Marathon and 10k race in 2020, but this was postponed to 2021, and now 2022, following the impact of Covid.

Runners then had the choice to take part in the Bolton Marathon and 10k race virtually, where they had to attend the course for their medals and t-shirts, defer until 2022, or transfer their place to another runner.

He said he was working on sending out medals for the virtual Bolton marathon and 10k race – which only a very small number of people took part in – as well as rewards for a ‘Twin Towns’ challenge, but there were delays due to him being part of a smaller team now.

It is said that nobody has yet received a medal or t-shirt for the virtual races last year, which simply required runners to complete the route of their own accord.

He hoped runners taking part in 2022 would be reassured the race is still going ahead on May 15 at Queen’s Park, with more updates to follow, including looking at issues on the website.

However, no updates have been issued and Mr Smith has made no contact with anyone regarding the marathon since speaking to The Bolton News in December.

Mr Smith has been contacted for comment but did not respond.


Mo Farah’s racing comeback

Distance running legend returns to the roads of London and Manchester in May but what else does the summer of 2022 hold in store?

After signing up to race the Vitality London 10,000 on the roads of the British capital on May 2, Mo Farah has now announced he will be running the Great Manchester Run on May 22.

Despite turning 39 years old today (March 23) and enduring an injury-hit summer in 2021 which saw him fail to make the British Olympic team for Tokyo, there are signs he could be entering a surprisingly busy racing period.

After his disappointing season last year he talked about having one last hurrah – a big farewell race somewhere to mark the end of a career that has brought him, among other things, 10 global track titles. But there is now speculation he could be involved in this summer’s major championships on the track. Who knows, a return to the London Marathon in October could even be on the cards too.

Firstly, let’s stick to what we know. As Farah is racing 10km on the roads of London on May 2 and Manchester on May 22, this means we can pretty much rule him out of racing in the Müller Birmingham Diamond League on May 21.

Farah does not seem afraid of putting his reputation on the line either, incidentally, as the Great Manchester Run is also set to feature Stewart McSweyn, the Australian who holds the Oceania record for 1500m, mile and 3000m in addition to having clocked 27:23.80 for 10,000m on the track.

In addition, Andy Butchart is set to race and has been in good shape recently after having run 27:36.77 for 10,000m in California this month to break Ian Stewart’s 45-year-old Scottish record.

So if Farah’s road races in May go well, what are his options? Surprisingly he has never won a Commonwealth title and with the event on home soil in Birmingham it must be tempting.

The consensus is that he would struggle on the track against the likes of Joshua Cheptegei and Selemon Barega in the World Championships in Oregon in July. But Christian Malcolm, the head coach of the British team, has suggested it is “50/50”.

Speaking as last weekend’s World Indoor Championships in Belgrade drew to a close, Malcolm said: “Sir Mo is working hard and training. We will see how he goes in the summer. But he’s at that age now where you have to take it week-by-week, month-by-month, see where you are at in training.”

On the chances of him competing in Oregon, Malcolm added: “It’s possible. We don’t know at the moment. It’s 50-50 if I am being honest with you. Hopefully we will know a little bit more over the next six weeks.

“Does he still have a talent? Yes, he does. So let’s see if his body can handle it. Like I said, over the next six weeks Mo will know a little bit more about where he is at.”

As for the Great Manchester Run, Farah last took part in the event in 2018 when he outkicked Moses Kipsiro to clock 28:27.

Farah said: “I’m pleased to say the injury problems I had last year are now behind me, training has been going well and I am happy with the shape I am showing.

“Any time I race in the UK it is exciting for me because I love running in front of my home fans and I want to give my best for them.  I had an amazing reception in Manchester when I won the event in 2018 so I’m looking forward to racing on the streets of the city again later this year.”

It will be fascinating to see if Farah’s form during May is close to his best or whether there is little improvement on last year when he struggled at the British 10,000m Championships in Birmingham to clock 27:50.64 before barely improving three weeks later to run 27:47.04 in an invitation 10,000m at the Olympic trials in Manchester.

How will he fare, too, if he comes up against the rising force of Marc Scott, who beat Farah in Birmingham last year despite not being 100% fit himself and has since won the Great North Run, clocked 12:57.08 for 5000m indoors and on Saturday won bronze in the 3000m at the World Indoor Championships?


Eliud Kipchoge’s Paris 2024 journey begins in Tokyo

Eliud Kipchoge has had many memorable moments in a career defined by incredibly big ambitions.

The double Olympic champion has already proved he is one of the greatest marathoners in history.

The 37-year-old holds both the official marathon world record (with a 2:01:39 run at Berlin 2018) and the unofficial fastest time running the distance in under two hours.

On 6 March 2022 in downtown Tokyo, Kipchoge will continue to write the next chapter of his legacy, with a first appearance at the Tokyo Marathon.

Kipchoge is the unprecedented four-time London marathon champion, he’s conquered the Berlin marathon thrice, and early in his marathon career, he won the 2014 Chicago marathon.

But the Kenyan legend still wants more, and that’s what sets him apart.

His constant desire to “press on, and press on, and press on.” Like the zen master he’s normally compared to, the athletics star likes to grab every opportunity.

Defending his title at Tokyo 2020 made him one of three men to have retained their Olympic marathon titles (after Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila in 1960 and 1964 and East Germany’s Waldemar Cierpinski in 1976 and 1980).

Paris 2024 offers the world record holder an opportunity for an Olympic marathon hat-trick.

“I still have something boiling in my stomach that’s why I am looking forward to it,” he said when he confirmed he plans to chase an unprecedented third straight Olympic gold.

A trailblazer, driven by the desire embodied by his mantra “no human is limited”.

“The concept that no human is limited is a very cool idea and it’s not only about sport,” he said in an interview with shortly after defending his Olympic title.

“Performance is not only in sport, performance is even in the office. That’s why I’m happy with what’s going on in the world now when we see Sir Richard Branson flying into space and Jeff Bezos going into space on a different flight.

“When you see people can think like this, you know we have no limitations at all. Let us press on, and press on, and press on.”

If he succeeds in Paris, there will be many firsts.

Besides being the only man with three Olympic marathon titles, Kipchoge – who in August 2024 will be close to 40 – could become the oldest Olympic marathon gold medallist.

Kipchoge: “Living the Olympic dream”

Another motivation for Kipchoge in Paris would be to medal at a third consecutive Games.

The 5000m world champion back in 2003 craved more Olympic glory on the track after the bronze he took at Athens 2004 and the silver from Beijing 2008.

But he finished seventh in both the 5,000m and 10,000m at the Kenyan Trials for London 2012 and was not considered for a wild card.

Guided by his coach Patrick Sang, an Olympic silver medallist, Kipchoge found value in failure and decided to move from the track to the roads.

It paid off with one of the fastest marathon debuts in Rotterdam in 2013, which started his dominance on the major city marathons.

In a country where squad selection can sometimes be more competitive than the Olympics, he managed to get practically a guaranteed slot in the Kenyan national team for both Rio 2016 and later Tokyo 2020.

When will Kipchoge be in action at the Tokyo Marathon?

The event will start at 9:10am local time (1:10 CET; 19:10 on 5 March ET).

Does this mark the start of a long conclusion to Kipchoge’s career in the French capital in 2024?

“The end of my career will come automatically that’s for sure, that’s in front of my mind, but for now I still want to compete more,” he said after the Tokyo 2022 Olympics.

“I still want to go around the world and run, inspire people.”


Joseph Ngure, the master of all: A teacher, journalist to athletics coach

Joseph Ngure is a master of all traits, an athletics coach, journalist, teacher and priest that surrounds his day to day life.

As he narrates, his life has been with ups and downs but he has never let it bring him down.

Born in 1964 in Kaptagat, Ngure reported to Kitany Secondary School in Keiyo South, Elgeyo Marakwet County in 1992, his mandate was to teach English and English Literature as he pursued his apprenticeship in journalism.

“Although this was not my first time to teach in high school, after I  began teaching at Kiboron Secondary School from 1988- 1991 after completing my A-Levels and attending British Council Organized English Teachers training at Moi Teacher’s Diploma College, I found the environment adaptable after finding two former classmates teaching there,” said Ngure.

Due to the big population of the students, the Flax primary school alumni found it challenging; teaching three streams in each Form, which was contrary to the previous school that was just beginning with a handful of students since the institution had started with the first 8.4.4 class.

“I found teaching the subject very interesting especially Literature since most teachers in the department were Asians and knew very little about African Oral Literature. I immersed myself in my teaching call-up while at the same time pursuing journalism training with Kijabe Printing Press during school holidays,” explained the Mother of Apostle Seminary (MOAS) student.

In Kijabe, he became regular contributor to Today In Africa, a Christian Publication that dwelt much on life testimonies and fictions with religious teachings/morals, following the mentorship at Mother of Apostles Seminary, he found myself getting involved in many other school and church activities like training students and local Christians in music. I had taken Young Christian Students (YCS).

“These additional roles gave me a sense of belonging and I found teaching more enriching. But I continued with writing and within 2 years, I started a journalism club and, together with the English Department, we started publishing the School Magazine- The Kitany Star. I was the Editor and the club patron,” he added.

With a burning desire to do more for the school and the students, he was asked to assist in athletics training by the school deputy Leonard Cherop, his former classmate since he knew Ngure was a member of the athletics team during his high school.

“During my first assignment, I took the school Cross Country team to the district championships in Iten in 1993 and I was amazed by the running potential of my students. Out of the 6 team members, my boys took the first 2 positions with the Late Samuel Chepkok and Michael Kite coming, finishing first and second positions in the vast district endowed with running talents,” he explained.

Athletics coach Joseph Ngure in red with brother Colm O’Connel in Nandi County. PHOTO: John Vaselyne

The results stunned Bro. Colm O’Connell with his St Patrick’s Iten team who, hitherto, ruled the schools championships unchallenged. The two boys were selected to represent the district in the provincial championships in Kabarnet where Chepkok again finished first but Kite retired in position 8. The victory secured him a ticket for national championships that were held in Thika. This also forced me to accompany him to Mang’u High School, the venue for the championships.

“Although things were not easy at the National, the championships were an eye opener to him and me as his trainer. Then two-times World Junior Cross Country Champion Philip Mosima, international Josphat Machuka from Nyanza, who had just jetted into the country from the World championship, beat him. He finished 3rd ahead of the upcoming Musyoka Nguku and experienced Atoi Boru, both from Eastern,” remembered Ngure.

Buoyed by success, more boys joined the athletics program in school under his watch and when the second term came, he had a strong team for the grassroots’ competitions that usually started at divisional or zonal level.

“I was happy when Chepkok sailed all through to nationals, when he won the 3,000metres Steeplechase, breaking the national school record by clocking 8:40.15, erasing William Mutwol 8:41.40 that had stood for 7 years. This saw him being selected to represent Kenya in Australia in the month of December together with other students,” he noted.

This was good luck for him when Athletics Kenya, then Kenya Amateur Athletics Association  (KAAA), organized a Level- C Coaching Course at Kapsabet and the school never hesitated to send him for training.

“In this training I obtained my first coaching certificate in seniors’ coaches including David Letting, Stephen Lagat, Robert Ng’isirei, Joseph Chemuren, Amos Korir, Billy Kosgei and the Late William Saina. Dan Muchoki and Mike Koskei conducted the training,” he explained.

After gaining fresh knowledge, he expanded his coaching to local primary schools like Kitany and Kapkoi where he discovered and trained young girls to international level.

“I worked with teachers and in 1994, Jepkorir Aiyabei, World Cross Country bronze, Ednah Kiplagat, (1996 World Junior 3,000metres Silver Medalist, and Rose Kosgei (1997 World junior Cross Country Champion) boosted my career. This was the mark in my long journey in sports. When Colm learnt of my training, he invited me to St Patrick’s Iten where we teamed up with the Late Samson Kimobwo, then a teacher at Marakwet Boys and Boniface Tiren (teaching Chesubet primary school then) and found the famous St Patrick’s Students Holiday Training Camp,” he sites.

Under the mentorship of the veteran Coach, who trained under former national head coach Walter Abmayre, they nurtured young talents who went ahead to rule the World as both juniors and seniors in the 1990s and early 2000s among them Olympians and World champions Wilson Kipketer Boit, Reuben Kosgei, Japhet Kimutai, Kipkurui Misoi, Lydia Cheromei, Sally and Florence Barsosio, Janeth Jepkosgei, Edna Kiplagat, Viola Kbiwott among others.

“It was due to this production line that KAAA selected me for my first international assignment in 1996. I was appointed assistant coach for the World Cross Country team that competed in Cape Town. I was in charge of the junior team that was composed of pupils and students from our Iten junior camp including Patrick Ivuti from Machakos. After the assignment in South Africa, I was chosen for the first IAAF Coaching Education and Certification System Level 1 Course that was held at The Regional Development Centre in Nairobi. We were a class of 30 pioneers,” he said.

“In 1997, I was among 4 Kenyan coaches who were recalled for IAAF C E C S Level 2 which graded us as senior coaches at Club or Camp level. It was after this that again the federation picked me for my second international duty. In 1998, I was again enlisted in the national Cross Country team to Marrakech, Morocco, in the same capacity as assistant coach. I was lucky to handle the team since for the first time, the International Association of Athletics Federation introduced the 4Km category in the cross country. Team Kenya, led by John Kibowen, Paul Kosgei, Daniel Komen, Benjamin Limo, Kipkurui Misoi swept the first six positions to claim the inaugural trophy in that category,” said the smiling Ngure.

In 1999, he was chosen the Kenyan coach for the inaugural IAAF High Performance Training Camp (HPTC) at Kipkeino’s Kazi Mingi Farm alongside Suleiman Nyambui of Tanzania where they trained the first youth team for the inaugural World Youth Championship from English Speaking Countries in Africa.

He says that that did not go down well with fellow coaches. Envious that his star was shining with each event, they schemed to halt his ambition by falsely implicating me in some immoral activities.

Despite enjoying a cordial working relationship with the school administration, local politics also curtailed my vision. It was also undeniable that he was spending most of teaching time engaging in sports and left Kitany in 2001.

However, his love and passion for athletics was not lost as he continued working with Colm as the Camp’s head coach while writing for The Daily Nation as a Correspondent, covering the then Keiyo and Marakwet districts before joining Paul Ereng at the Eldoret-based IAAF HPTC to handled middle and long distant athletes after a lot of persuasion and his training and experience came in handy in 2002.

Coach Joseph Ngure in red with Dominic Ondiek. Photo: John Vaselyne

“This was the designing moment for my coaching career. It was relieving working with Ereng and Kipchoge Keino, two great men in the world of athletics. I learned a lot interacting with them. The opportunity to work with IAAF enabled me to train many top runners not only in Kenya but all over the World. Most of those who secured scholarship to train there include Ezekiel Kemboi, Janeth Jepkosgei, Daniel Kipchirchir Komen, Clement Langat, Ruth Bosibori, Veronica Ng’ososei, Asbel Kiprop, Lydia Rotich, and Linus Chumba among others,” he recalled.

From outside Kenya, they trained 2008 Olympic Silver medalist Ismael Ahmed Ismael from Sudan, Hawa Hussein from Tanzania, Dorcas Inzikuri and Martin Toroitich from Uganda, Simret Ali, Ali Suleiman and Jonah Kefles from Eritrea, Tonny Wamulwa and Elizet Banda from Zambia and Moussa Camara from Mali and many others from Burundi, Rwanda, Malawi, Djibouti, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Botswana, Gambia and other English and French speaking countries in Africa.

The camp also granted me the opportunity to tour many European countries as they used to re-locate the training from Kenya to Italy every summer and we could attend many races from there.

At the IAAF camp, he also worked with other coaches from Kenya in the pre-Olympics and Commonwealth Games training. From 2008 to 2012 he trained the Paralympics teams that included Henry Wanyoike, Abraham Tarbei, Samuel Muchai, Henry Kirwa and others who won several medals in Beijing and London.

“It was while coaching at the HPTC that I stepped up writing seriously. I shifted from The Daily Nation to The Standard as I was forced to narrow down on sports writing. I was in charge of the Sports Desk in the Bureau. It was easier for me since I interacted with all sports newsmakers almost on daily basis,” he added

His coaching star moved a notch higher in 2007 when IAAF enrolled him with National Head Coach Julius Kirwa, Sammy Macharia and the Late Peter Mathu Titi, for Elite Academy Diploma at Kenyatta University.

“The Academy Diploma completes the 5-tier IAAF Coaches grading system and elevates the coaches to ranks slightly below the Chief Coach and the Coaching Development director. With this grade, a coach can work in all IAAF member federations all over the World,” lectured Ngure.

As is common, all straight roads do not lack a bump. 2007-2008 clashes and things started taking new turns. The unrest made many foreign athletes renounce their training scholarships and preferred training in their home countries, fearing for their lives in Kenya.

The mutual trust that they had enjoyed working together deteriorated as they became suspicious, differed on political lines but they managed to play down this and worked to implement the 2012 Olympics training Program.

“Came 2012 and the mighty camp, which was being funded by Olympic Solidarity, started disintegrating. Athletics Kenya, under the Late Isaiah Kiplagat, recommended me to go to Jamaica on an exchange program where I was to train middle and Long distance events while a coach from Jamaica was to come to Kenya to train the Sprinters,” explained Ngure.

“However, whereas I was ready and willing to go, the Jamaican coaches preferred working in Canada, America and Australia than in Africa. No coach was willing to work in Kenya and the programme collapsed.”

He tried setting his own training camp at Kaptagat with a Korean friend but gave up the idea after he was offered a chance to coach in two Universities.

Joseph Ngure during Nandi County Athletics kenya cross country championships. Photo: John Vaselyne

“But I preferred something vibrant. I always prefer training young and serious talents. Most students in the Universities do not take sports, especially athletics, seriously,” said Ngure.

In 2013, he prevailed upon to work in a new training camp in Naivasha in Mountain running.

“This provided new challenges for me since I mostly specialized in Track events. I had to shift to road races. I am still transforming myself to the new order. It is here that I have discovered Kenya can also compete and win Mountain Running,” he said.

The Athletics Kenya registered the first team to the World Mountain Running Championships in 2014 and Lucy Wambui Murigi won the first Silver medal for Kenya.

“I managed the team and registered Kenya officially with the World Mountain Running Association. With AK backing, we are rolling out Mountain Running in the country.”

22 Facts about Asbel Kiprop you need to know as the 1500m KING Returns

Three times World 1500m Champion Asbel Kiprop has ended his four years banning sentence that he got from Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) in 2018.

Below are his fact files:

  1. Asbel Kiprop Kebenei was born on 30 June 1989 and he a middle-distance runner, who specializes in the 1500 metres.
  2. He was the first Kenyan to be be a World 1500m Champion. 
  1. He is the First Kenyan to complete a 1500m hat trick.
  1. He is the youngest ever winner of the 2008 Summer Olympics 1500m gold, a record previously held by Arnold Jackson since 1912.
  1. Kiprop has won three World Championship titles in the event, in 2011, 2013 and 2015.
  1. Kiprop won his first major title at the 2007 All-Africa Games, taking the 1500 m gold medal.
  1. He won the 2010 African Championships in Athletics, improving upon a bronze medal performance from 2008. His personal best for the distance is 3:26.69.
  1. Kiprop breakthrough came at the 2007 IAAF World Cross Country Championships and then the 1500 m gold at the All-Africa Games.
  1. He won the Most Promising Sportsman of the Year category at the 2007 Kenyan Sports Personality of the Year awards (SOYA).

  1. Kiprop won his first Diamond League Meeting at the 2016 in Doha.
  1. He won bronze at the 2008 African 800m Championships
  1. He won silver medal at the 2008 IAAF World Athletics Final, finishing behind the African champion Haron Keitany.
  1. Kiprop is the 2010 African Championships gold medallist in Athletics, running a championship record time of 3:36.19 to win in Nairobi.
  2. Asbel Kiprop won his first 1500 m Diamond League title at the 2010 Memorial van Damme.
  3. Kiprop won silver at the 2011 Great Edinburgh Cross Country in January, in the short race behind Eliud Kipchoge.
  4. Asbel Kiprop won the 2011 world 1500m gold medal, defeating his Kenyan rival, Silas Kiplagat at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics.
  5. Asbel Kirpop had his best cross country race since he was a junior runner at the Edinburgh race in 2012, defeating a field which contained Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele.
  6. Asbel Kiprop in July 2013, won the Herculis (Monaco Diamond League) 1500 in a time of 3:27.72, making him the fourth fastest man ever at the distance yet still not achieving the meet record.
  7. Asbel Kiprop set in 2015, a meeting record for 1500 metres at the Monaco Diamond League event in a time of 3:26.69. This put him third on the all-time list over the distance.
  8. Kiprop is from Kaptinga village, near Eldoret. He is a son of David and Julia Kebenei. His father David Kebenei was also an athlete, who participated in the 1987 All-Africa Games in Kenya and finished fourth in the 1500 metres race.
  9. Kiprop started running at the age of 13, while at Simat School. Later he dropped out of high-school to concentrate on training.
  10. His younger brother Victor Kipchirchir Kebenei is also a 1500 metres runner.


Usain Bolt’s World Record a decade on: The science behind the world’s fastest man

On Aug. 16, 2009, Usain Bolt clocked 9.58 seconds in the final of the 100 meters at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin.

A decade on, with the eight-time Olympic champion now retired, that world-record time still stands.

At just 22, the Jamaican obliterated a mark he had set exactly one year earlier at the Olympics in Beijing, shaving more than a tenth of a second off the time.

Dr. Peter Weyand, a biomechanics expert at Southern Methodist University, told Omnisport what made Bolt so unique.

A slow starter?

One of the biggest misconceptions of Bolt was that, due to his 6-foot, 5-inch frame, he was a slow starter. Not true, says Weyand. Particularly on that night in Germany when only Dwain Chambers was ahead of him after the first few strides.

“The most unusual thing was how well he was able to start for somebody as big as he is,” Weyand said. “Normally the people that accelerate and get out of the blocks very quickly tend to be the shorter sprinters. The physics and biology of acceleration favors smaller people. In 2009, I think he started as well as anybody in that race. The start was a differentiator.”

Long legs = more force

Though his height may have given him a slight disadvantage out of the blocks, Bolt’s frame came in handy once the race opened up, allowing him to generate more power in the short steps sprinters take.

“What limits how fast a sprinter can go is how much force they can get down in the really short periods of time they have to do it,” Weyand said. “If you’re going faster, the only way to do what you need to do to pop your body back up with a shorter contact time is to put down more force. What all elite sprinters do is put down more force in relation to their body mass than people who aren’t as fast.

“If you’re Bolt and you’re 6-foot-5, you have a longer leg and you have more forgiveness. He probably has six, seven, eight milliseconds more on the ground.

“You have to put down a peak force of about five times body weight and that needs to happen in three hundredths of a second after your foot comes down.

“He was so athletic and so tall. His long legs gave him more time on the ground.”

Fewer strides, greater success

Believe it or not, sprinters cannot maintain their top speed for the entire 100 meters. Bolt, who also holds the 200-meter world record, had another advantage in that he needed fewer strides to cover the distances.

“He had 41 steps usually [over 100 meters] and the other guys are 44, 45, some of the shorter ones are up in the high 40s,” Weyand said.

“Particularly over 200 meters, the step numbers are directly related to fatiguing. If you go through fewer steps and fewer intense muscular contractions to put force into the ground, you have a fatigue-sparing effect.”

Unique, but not perfect

Given he was able to accelerate out of the blocks quickly — relative to his height — and was able to use his frame to generate more force across fewer strides, Bolt might have looked like the perfect sprinter.

But Weyand argued: “You can make a case that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is the best female sprinter ever and she’s 5 feet tall.

“There are trade-offs in terms of being forceful when you accelerate versus having more contact time at your top-end speed.”

Will Bolt’s mark ever be broken?

No current athlete looks close to eclipsing Bolt’s time in the near future, but that does not mean his record time will stand forever.

In 2008, marathon runner and biology professor Mark Denny conducted research and predicted the fastest possible time a male sprinter could run is 9.48 seconds.

“Nothing’s ever perfect, Bolt’s obviously a unique athlete but no race is perfect and no set of circumstances are perfect,” Weyand said. “Certainly faster than 9.58 [is possible] but that’s a question that’s hard to answer without being pretty speculative.”

The only thing that is certain is for now — as has been the case for the previous 10 years too — the title of “the fastest man on earth” belongs to Bolt.


Marilyn Okoro and Wendy Sly join UKA board

Former athletes are appointed as non-executive directors at the national governing body

Olympians Marilyn Okoro and Wendy Sly will join the UK Athletics board as non-executive directors from February 1. Okoro competed in the 800m and won 4x400m bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, whereas Sly won Olympic 3000m silver at the 1984 LA Games and is the current managing director at AW.

Okoro has also run 1:58.45 – a time that ranks her No.10 on the UK all-time 800m rankings – and outside of competition she is highly regarded in championing mental health, social mobility and athlete welfare, in addition to being a graduate of an accredited programme in corporate governance.

Sly, meanwhile, also won the world 10km title during her career and she has enjoyed a successful career in publishing and continues to serve the sport in roles including team management, athlete mentoring and has previously served a term on the board of England Athletics.

Beattie said: “On behalf of the board I would like to welcome Marilyn and Wendy into these crucial non-executive roles and look forward to us benefitting from the experience they will bring to UKA.

“The quality of applications for these roles was very impressive and I would like to thank all the shortlisted candidates for their interest and engagement in this process as without exception all were of an incredibly high standard.

“The composition of the board is essential for the success of the organisation and I am delighted with the mix of expertise around the table. I have no doubt they will provide excellent support and guidance for the leadership team in what is an exciting year for athletics.”

Okoro said: “I am elated to have been appointed to the board of UKA. As an athlete you want to be involved and help the sport and I am thrilled with this opportunity. The sport is in my blood, and I hope that I can help bridge the gap between the board and the sport and provide an athlete voice.

“I am excited by the joined-up approach outlined by Athletics Unified as I know when the sport collaborates and works together great things can happen. It’s an exciting time to be involved and I look forward to working with Ian and the rest of the board of UKA.”

Sly added: “I’m thrilled to be involved in a new era, not just for UKA but for the whole sport in the UK. I’ve spent 50 years of my life in the sport that I love and I am honoured to have this opportunity to join the board at this exciting time.

“I’ve been privileged to have been involved with team management, and mentoring athletes over the years, so I hope that I can continue to be a familiar face to everyone in the sport and be an approachable figure on the board.

“There have been quite a few changes in the last couple of years and it is great to be part of the new look UKA board that really reflects and has a connection with the sport.”


38 Medical Scientists appeal to IOC over transgender Rule

A lineup of 38 medical experts and sports insiders have signed a statement criticizing the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) new framework on transgender athletes, issuing a warning over fairness as part of the debate.

After pledging to revise the guidelines amid fierce controversy over the issue at the Olympic Games in 2021, the governing body concluded that trans women would not be required to lower their testosterone to compete against rivals born as women – one of the cornerstones of the row for those who argue that transitioned athletes have an advantage over their opponents.

The reappraisal appeared to have been partly made in response to high-profile cases including Laurel Hubbard, the New Zealander who briefly competed at the Games in super-heavyweight weighlifting.

Testosterone level regulations have come in for further questioning because of the rise of Lia Thomas, a former male competitor who has broken records at college level as a female swimmer in the US in recent months.

Some campaigners for a change to the rules have suggested that groups and individuals are afraid to speak out publicly because they fear repercussions from others who passionately claim that more restrictive measures threaten the basic rights of transgender athletes.

Now the group of scientists and sports professionals, including members of World Athletics and World Triathlon, have written to the IOC to say that the framework is more focused on inclusion than science around gender and performance.

The authors, who are said to be associated with the International Federation of Sports Medicine and European Federation of Sports Medicine Associations, appealed to the IOC to revisit the guidance in the British Medical Journal Open Science & Exercise Medicine.

They say that the presumption of transgender athletes having no presumed advantage offers a “stark contrast” to the previous ruling by the IOC in 2015, scientific evidence and the findings of various groups and research.

Trans women could be allowed to compete in female sport, the scientists say, by lowering testosterone.

Thomas took testosterone suppressants for a year before being backed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the US to compete.

Cycling and rowing chiefs are among the leaders urging the IOC to set standards based on fairness and science.

While some scientists argue that the evidence around transgender athletes having advantages is inconclusive, others are convinced that trans individuals benefit in competition when they are born as men, with many going through puberty before transitioning.

Professor Jurgen Steinacker told Sportsmail that transwomens’ choices to compete should be respected but that fairness had to be “bi-directional”.

“In this case, I think what they are doing is unfair on females,” the chair of World Rowing’s Sports Medicine Commission said.

“Sport is inclusive but it is inclusive until it comes to winning medals. If you want to compete as a female in sport, you face biological disadvantages compared to cisgender males that must be mitigated against.

“We need to set a limit that respects the right of females to compete on equal terms. If you create a definition of gender that is based on social rather than biological differences, then you effectively destroy the female category.”

Professor Steinacker’s remarks echoed the views of a reported letter from parents of Thomas’s rivals which warned that the integrity of women’s sports is at risk over the issue.

Former international pentathlete Kirsti Miller, who competed for Australia and later revealed she was transgender while working at a jail in 2000, issued a lengthy social media response to one report of the petition.

Miller said that the last nine Olympic Games had featured two openly transgender athletes, neither of whom threatened to earn a medal.

“Sadly, [one report of the petition] still doesn’t get that there is no relationship between unaltered endogenous testosterone in males or females and sport performance,” she claimed.

“In fact, there is no clear biological list of features that allow us to even remotely cleanly separate men from women.”

Lawsuits in several US states have achieved varying levels of success in bids to bar transgender athletes from competing in female college sports.

The new IOC framework is set to be implemented after the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, which run from February 4-20 2022.