Once beaten, twice shy, so the saying goes.
Well, having been beaten before by Ethiopians and Briton Mo Farah, Bedan Karoki seems to have discovered what will help tame Kenya’s rivals for the 10,000m title at the World Championships in Athletics in Moscow.
Karoki, who finished fourth at the 2012 London Olympic Games, won the Kenyan trials for the Worlds, beating team mates Paul Tanui and Kenneth Kipkemoi.
The trio now has the onus of trying to reclaim the title Charles Kamathi last won for Kenya in 2001. The other Kenyans to have won the 10,000m world title are Paul Kipkoech in 1987 and Moses Tanui in 1991.
Without focusing on certain individuals, Karoki believes endurance will be key to their victory but only if they utilise well this advantage in Moscow.
Karoki wants his team to take control of the race from the gun shot with fast-paced running. “We have got the endurance hence we should go for a high-paced race, which for sure is our strong point,” Karoki said.
“We have been staying together with our opponents until the last lap where they beat us on the kick but we now know that is where our weakness lies. I would like us try something different by going out early with our speed and drag them along and see if their kick will work in the last 400m.”
Africa’s 10,000m champion Kipkemoi said they should get rid of fear in their systems and avoid being distracted by their opponents who have world leads this season.
“We don’t fear anybody, including those who are said to have set area records in 1,500m,” said Kipkemoi while referring to the London Olympic Games 10,000m gold medallist, Mo Farah.
The London Olympics 10,000m and 5,00m gold medallist ran 3:28.81 in 1,500m at Monaco Diamond League, finishing behind winner Asbel Kiprop.
“That really shouldn’t bother us because we shall be on equal footing,” said Kipkemoi.
However, Kipkemoi believes that they have a golden opportunity to turn tables on their rivals. He hastened to add that they have to be mentally prepared, stay positive and utilise their endurance advantage.
“It’s all about our attitude. We have got a strong team that is equally competitive and energetic,” said Kipkemoi, who won the 2011 All Africa Games Half Marathon silver medal.
Kipkemoi noted that some of their main rivals like the Ethiopians have not performed well in the race over the year.
“But we should not sleep easy since they have also got upcoming long distance runners like Ibrahim Jeilan, the 2011 All African Games 10,000m gold medallist,” said Kipkemoi.
Kipkemoi, 28, said they have always messed up their races in their final kick but he is glad that the coaches have been working on it since they begun training. “We need to put our strong points to use,” explained Kipkemoi.
Tanui, 20, who won silver in senior men’s race at the 2011 World Cross-country in Punta Umbria before finishing ninth in the 10,000m race at the 2011 Daegu Worlds, noted that the team going to Moscow was hungry for results than ever before. “The team is more focused and hungry compared to the one that went to London Olympics,” said Tanui.
Elsewhere, most athletes can hardly raise a word after running hard over 3,000 metres.
But Farah could hardly stop chatting away confidently about his chances of tasting more golden success at the World championships in Moscow next month.
Not that Farah needed to hit top gear to race away from the rest of the on Saturday and pushed the cruise control button. Twelve months on from ‘Super Saturday’, the greatest day of his sporting life, Farah was just as impressive as he romped to victory cheered on by 60,000 adoring fans at London’s Olympic Stadium.
(Additional reporting by AFP)