Since Janet Cherobon-Bawcom got her US citizenship on November 8, 2010, the Kenya-born runner has relied on Jack Daniels to get the best out of her distance running potential.
Well, don’t get it wrong! “JCB” is a teetotaller and Jack Daniels is not what you think.
It’s not the Tenessee whiskey created by a man called Jack Daniel, who launched the Jack Daniel’s Distillery - USA’s oldest registered distillery - in 1866, and which until today produces some of the world’s finest whiskies.
The Jack Daniels in question is JCB’s coach who has spurred the ex-Kenyan so close to joining the famous Bernard Lagat as a former Kenyan on the USA Olympic roster.
The Jack Daniel most of us know died way back in 1911, although the famous quote from the distillery he bequeathed appropriately mourns that he is “still with us in spirit.”
Well, on Saturday, JCB - who was spirited to the US by 1988 Olympic 1,500m gold medallist Peter Rono and her husband-to-be Jay Bawcom - came close to winning a US ticket to the London Olympics when she finished fifth at the US Olympic marathon trials.
She improved her personal best time by a massive, close to eight minutes, clocking two hours, 29 minutes and 45 seconds.
Only the top three finishers won tickets to the London Olympic Games.
Shalane Flanagan, who finished second in the 2010 New York Marathon after taking a 10,000-metre bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics took the first ticket.
Desiree Davila, last year’s Boston Marathon runner-up, and Kara Goucher took the other two women’s tickets to London.
Flanagan, 30, set a US Olympic trials women’s record of 2:25:38 in only her second start at the distance.
“I knew I was capable of something like this and I believe I’m capable of something even faster,” Flanagan said.
Although JCB failed to make the US team, two ex-Africans qualified in the men’s team led by Eritrean-born Meb Keflezighi, the 2004 Athens Olympic marathon runner-up, who won the men’s race in a personal best of 2:09.08 to earn his third Olympic berth, breaking by five seconds a mark set 69 days earlier in finishing sixth at the New York Marathon.
The oldest winner
Keflezighi became, at 36, the oldest winner in the event’s history and the first man to have won the trials and the New York Marathon, having taken the New York title in 2009.
“It’s an honour to be on the Olympic team for the third time,” Keflezighi said.
“I’m just delighted to be part of these guys to go to London. I’m honored to win this race but a lot of guys would be glad to be in our shoes.”
Keflezighi struggled with a left foot injury after the New York Marathon but was able to recover in time to produce top form at Houston with three London berths at stake for American men and three more for women.
Ryan Hall, 29, finished second in 2:09:30, 28 seconds off his 2008 Olympic trials-winning time, with Somalia-born Abdi Abdirahman third, another 17 seconds adrift, to claim the other London berths on offer.
Abdirahman, 33, earned a berth in his fourth Olympics, having previously raced three times at 10,000m.
Dathan Ritzenhein was fourth, eight seconds behind Abdirahman to miss out on the Olympics after qualifying for Beijing.
In the women’s, Davila, 28, led at times and pressed Flanagan before easing off at the end to secure her Olympic berth.
Goucher, 33, skipped the 2010 season while pregnant but is in her second marathon in nine months after a return last year at Boston.