Generally, I am not an excitable person, so there is little that prompts me to want to jump up and shout and laugh loudly, or do whatever else that people do when they are exceptionally happy.
It is not that I am grumpy, far from it. I am just contained, and therefore more prone to processing my emotions from within.
There are a few instances though, when my guarded self dissolves, and I find myself cheering and clapping and pumping the air with my fist, a huge smile on my face.
One of these is when I watch our athletes compete on the world stage, specifically in marathons, where they are the undisputed kings. I think I have told you this before, so I won’t belabour the point.
The man of the moment, as you must know, is Eliud Kipchoge, who was named the male World Athlete of the Year at this year’s IAAF Athletics Awards.
The New York Times describes him as the greatest marathoner, ever. And my, what a wonder this man is, and not just because he is an outstanding athlete, but also because of his immense discipline and superior mental strength.
And his humility, never mind that he is a multimillionaire — when at his training camp in Kaptagat, Kipchoge does his allocated share of chores just like the other athletes, including scrubbing the toilets.
He could teach our MPs and governors a thing or two about humility. And an honest day’s hard work. But I digress.
I am a great fan, so whenever I come across articles about him or interviews he’s given, I read them and watch them. You only just need to listen to one or two interviews to get a picture of just how positive and self-driven he is.
I watched a promotional clip where he and two other elite runners took part in a Nike-sponsored project called Breaking2. The aim was to see whether a human being can run a marathon in under two hours, a feat that has never been achieved. Kipchoge, who of course came first, finished that race in 2 hours and 25 seconds. Later, someone asked him,
“Does it mean that human beings have limits?”
He replied: “I don’t agree with that. The goal was to break the two-hour barrier and I didn’t manage to do that, (but) the world is now just 25 seconds away.”
And then he added,
“It was hard for me to shed all those minutes, but I think it will be easier for another human being to shed 25 seconds. No human is limited.”
What a fantastic attitude!
He lost, but he was gracious in the face of defeat, though he refused to bow to it, saying that he believed that one day, someone will break that two-hour barrier. And he was OK with it even if that person was not him.
How do you react when faced with defeat and disappointment? Many of us retreat into our shells, totally discouraged from trying again, while others whine and blame anyone else but themselves for their defeat.
I say we could learn a lot from Kipchoge.
The writer is Editor, My Network magazine, in the Daily Nation [email protected] Twitter: @cnjerius.