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Malel, Mutunga seek to fit in predecessors’ big shoes

Wednesday July 6 2011

By JONATHAN KOMEN in Lille, France

Kenya’s youth charges will simply use Thursday’s races to test the opposition. And one lithe runner is certain to attract more than a passing glance.

Being his maiden trip to international competition, he was curious while boarding the plane from Nairobi to France and he now cuts a different material altogether.

William Malel has a big dream that all other athletes around the world envy to accomplish – to break Daniel Komen’s world 3,000 metres world mark of 7:20.76.

After beating the opposition at the nationals in Nairobi, Malel will on Thursday demonstrate to the world his potential in the 3,000m race as he competes here at Lille Metropole Stadium at 10:05am.

Malel, a Standard Seven pupil at Kipajit Primary School in Bomet County, basks on a brilliant 7:50.2 Personal Best which he posted at the national trials in Nyayo National Stadium last month. And he now has beef with his opponents.

Chasing victory

The fourth-born in a family of eight said: “I need to start with the world youth record first. I only pray God that I attain this feat here. I know most athletes will also be dashing for glory but I will run my race.”

Malel told the Daily Nation here that he expects to win and does not want to disappoint Kenyans.

“I am the only sibling in the family who takes part in athletics. My sisters were good runners, but they discontinued their careers after they got married.”

He beat World Cross-Country junior bronze medallist Patrick Mutunga at the nationals and the two will fly the Kenyan flag on Thursday morning.

Mutunga, who has the global cross-country running experience and boasts a Personal Best of 7:51.03, has a task cut out.

The runner, who hails from Kwanthanze Village in Machakos known as the cradle of athletics in Eastern Province, has to prove that the podium-finish in Punta Umbria, Spain, was no fluke.

“I want to do my best. I am ready to take on the world,” said Mutunga, a fifth-born in a family of six.

He also wants to follow in the footsteps of his role models, among them former World Junior 3,000m steeplechase champion Jonathan Ndiku Muiya and former World Cross Country Championships junior champion Caleb Mwangangi.

“These runners really impressed me. And I want to be like them,” said the alumnus of Kyelen Primary School in Machakos, whose performance will add to the rich national 3,000m cabinet.

Kenya claimed gold medal in the inaugural event in Bydgoszcz, Poland in 1999 through Pius Maluko Muli before David Kilel and James Kwalia settled for silver and bronze medals respectively in Debrecen, Hungary, in 2001.

Former world cross country silver medallist Lucas Rotich and Daniel Selel, who both train at Global Training Centre in Kaptagat, bagged gold and silver medals in Ostrava in 2005.

Isaiah Kiplangát Koech and David Bett repeated the feat in Bressanone two years ago. And so far, Kenya banks on seven medals – four gold and three silver in 3,000m – in the championship.