In a country where talent is abundant, seldom does anyone get a second chance in the Kenyan team, especially in the unpredictable junior men’s race for the World Cross Country championships.
Yet, that special honour has come to World Youth 3,000m champion Isaiah Kiplangat.
Having emerged two years ago in Bressanone, Italy on the track competition, Kiplangat has since curved his niche in the choking long distance races and will get his second chance to try and win a junior medal at the oldest IAAF championship in Punta Umbria, Spain on Sunday.
“I feel good to be back in the Kenya team. It is not easy to make it in the trials and having jumped that hurdle, the focus is now on Spain,” he said.
Kiplangat is alive to the fact that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
“I have already won a gold medal for this country in Italy in 2009. I almost got another medal last year in Bydgoszcz, Poland in this very competition. Now I need another medal as I approach my graduation to the senior rank,” he said.
Kiplangat, who was born on December 19, 1993, was unfortunate to get at least a bronze medal. He was forced to settle for the fourth position in a race Kenya swept the podium.
Yet two of his rivals in Poland, junior men 8km race champion Caleb Mwangangi and Japheth Korir, bronze winner, failed to pass the test at Uhuru Gardens at the national trials.
“I am in good form. At 18, I am just coming of age and will be aiming to win something in Spain. It was tough to everyone and winning a team slot was no mean achievement,” he said.
That is now water under the bridge and nobody will remember that he trounced his enemies in a Kenyan national championship, but his success will be weighed by the performance he gets in Punta Umbria, Spain where he will serve as the steel on which head coach David Leting is hoping to wrap the silk of his compatriots including Justin Cheruiyot, Philemon Yator, Geoffrey Kipsang, James Gitahi and Patrick Mutunga.
Kiplangat, who has emerged as a world beater on the indoor circuit this season with blazing runs in the 3000m and 5000m, the latter with a world-leading time in competitions held in Germany and Belgium.