Asbel to seek harvest of blessings at London Games
Posted Monday, February 6 2012 at 00:00
The athlete said that, despite competing in a race in which his father took part, he was proud to have had an opportunity run against him.
“I am sure the world’s 1,500m athletes – such as Hicham El Gurrouj and Amine Lalou (both of Morocco), as well as French’s Mehdi Baala and Deresse Mekonen of Ethiopia – have battled their fathers in competitions. I feel proud and privileged,” Asbel said as he cuddled his father.
He may, however, not defend the title at the 18th Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Porto Novo, Benin, later in June.
“I will race in the Diamond League series, starting it in Doha, then head to Edinburgh and Australia, preparing for Olympics,” said Asbel, who trains under Rosa and Associati stable. “I am confident we (Kenya) will retain the title since we have many good 1,500m runners.
“I did not even defend my title at the All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique, last year and I am happy it remained in Kenya.”
Kebenei, 50, then chimes in: “Now he (Asbel) has my blessings; he is ready for prepare for the Olympic 1,500m final. I am certain he can make it.”
The humble and smiling Kebenei said he decided to train and compete with Asbel since he literally wanted his son to follow in his footsteps.
And Asbel has come a long way.
Dropped out of primary school
After dropping out of primary school in 2003 to concentrate on athletics, he was enrolled in HPTC by coaches Jimmy Beauttah and Joseph Ngure, who guided world beaters Daniel Komen and Moses Kiptanui,. He would later take part in the World Juniors national trials in 2006.
Asbel was then entered into a number of local cross country races, finishing in a dry run for the national cross country championships for the World Cross competition that would be staged in Mombasa.
Asbel however almost saw his dream to the national team for the Mombasa World Cross shattered after placing 11th at the national trials. The selectors hwever considered his consistency and picked him.
Running his first international race, the second-born in a family of three led the Kenyan 1-2-3-4 sweep.
The rest is history.
Prior to his Daegu conquest Asbel had finished fourth twice, at the 2007 and 2009 World Championships, largely due to his poor calculations – his ‘behind the pack’ running style.
Kebenei said: “He missed medals in the World Championships in Osaka and Berlin and, as an athlete, it disturbed me. I consoled him and gave him some winning tips which eventually paid off in Daegu.”
Just like his parents, who served in Kenya Police, Asbel is a police officer, and his brilliant shows on the track buttresses the myth that prowess in athletics is hereditary.
At just 18, Asbel stunned the world when he claimed the World Cross Country junior title in Mombasa in his maiden international race – barely 20 years after his father did. Both of them had their first international races in Kenya.