Bedan Karoki is not just targeting the medal bracket at the 2012 Olympics but is out to emulate Eliud Kipchoge’s consistency and the efficiency of late Samuel Wanjiru in London.
Karoki, who will team up with Wilson Kiprop and Moses Masai in men’s 10,000 metres at the Summer Games, said London will just be the beginning of his racing career.
“Even though things didn’t work well for Kipchoge who missed the London Olympics, I truly admire his consistency since he has remained in good shape all through and that is what defines a good athlete,” said Japan-based Karoki. “I just don’t want to be a one-hit wonder.”
The 27-year-old Kipchoge, who is the 2003 World 5,000m champion, won bronze over the same distance at the 2004 Athens Olympics before striking silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
The 21-year-old Karoki insists that even though Wanjiru’s life was cut short at a prime age of 24, his efficiency which saw him scale the heights to win many accolades within three years is admirable.
Wanjiru won Kenya’s maiden Olympics Marathon title at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a championship record time of two hours, six minutes and 32 seconds besides winning two Chicago Marathon titles in 2009 (course record 2:05:41) and 2010 respectively. Wanjiru, who won the 2009 London Marathon in a course record of 2:05:10, also set a new World Half Marathon record in winning the 2007 Ras Al Khaimah race in 58:53.
Wanjiru died on May 15, 2011 from a fall off the balcony of his home in Nyahururu.
“People say I have the same running style as the late Wanjiru and I hope to draw inspiration from that and deliver in London,” said Karoki, the 2011 All Africa Games 10,000m silver medallist.
Both Karoki and Wanjiru grew up in Nyahururu where they embraced athletics before moving to Japan for secondary school education.
“We will face a stiff challenge in London but anyone among us in the team is capable of winning if we embrace team work,” explained Karoki, who won the 2012 Kenya National Cross country Championships but a tendon injury cost him a place in the team for the Africa Cross Championships in Cape Town.
Karoki, however, singled out Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele and his colleagues Tariku Bekele and Gebre Gebremariam and Uganda’s Moses Kipsiro as potential threats.
Targeting World Cross title
After London, Karoki will shift focus to next year where he targets the World Cross country title in Bydgoszcz, Poland, and the World 10,000m crown in Moscow, Russia. Thereafter, Karoki will turn to the half marathon, where he will compete in three races before turning to the full marathon. “My intentions are to win the Olympic Marathon title in 2016 in Brazil for Wanjiru God willing,” said a confident Karoki.
Head coach Julius Kirwa said Karoki is a focused young man hungry for results. “His future looks bright and destined for good things. With proper guidance, he can achieve big things,” said Kirwa.
Born on August 21, 1990 to Peter Muchiri and Ruth Nyambura, Karoki embraced athletics in 2003 while in class seven at Kagondo Primary. He represented his school at the 2004 national primary schools championships in the 1,500m, where he finished seventh in 3:52.00.
He enrolled at Mfae Athletics Club in Nyahururu while at Kagondo Secondary and reached the 1,500m final of the National Secondary School Games while in form three in 2007. He clocked a sub 3:47 but lost the race to World junior 800m silver medallist Jackson Kivuva.
In form three, he shifted to Sera High School in Japan till 2009 and then joined S&B Food Company. In Japan, he moved to 3,000m and 5,000m in 2009 and to 10,000m a year later. He ran 27:23.00 for his company before improving his time to 27:13.00.
Karoki was named to the 2011 All Africa Games 10,000m team where he won silver, losing to Ethiopian Ibrahim Jeilan. He attended the national Olympic Games 10,000m pre-trials in Nairobi, where he finished ninth.
However, he qualified for the Olympics when he came third behind Kiprop (27:01.98) and Masai with personal best (27:02.25) at the national trials on June 1 in Eugene, Oregon, USA.