Nike have offered an apology to Eliud Kipchoge for their malfunctioning shoe that shattered the Kenyan marathon star’s dreams of a world record at last weekend’s Berlin Marathon.
The American sportswear manufacturer say they have “learnt a lesson” from their malfunctioning prototype shoe that Kipchoge helped develop in one year of research.
Kipchoge started experiencing problems with his Nike “Streak 6” shoe after just one kilometre in Sunday’s race but soldiered on to win the race in a personal best time of two hours, four minutes and one second.
At the 20-kilometre mark, the insoles of both shoes popped out, forcing him to run for 22km with flapping insoles that put paid to his dreams of improving compatriot Dennis Kimetto’s world mark on 2:02.57 set on the same Berlin course last year.
On Monday, Kipchoge and his Global Sports Communications management team played down the shoe malfunction, saying Kipchoge had been working for one year with Nike’s research and development team on the prototype “Streak 6” shoe and that the flipping insoles were an unforeseen problem. And yesterday, prodded for a reaction by Daily Nation Sport, Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, described the much talked about malfunction as an unfortunate incident and congratulated Kipchoge on winning the race under such difficult conditions.
“As he has done in previous races, Eliud was testing a prototype racing flat which we’ve been working on together for several months,” said Ilana Finley, the Senior Director of Global Communications in charge of running and Olympics at Nike.
“As with any prototype, elements can sometimes go wrong. On this occasion, the sockliner didn’t work. As in all innovation, we will learn quickly from mistakes,” added Finley, herself a former world class hurdler.
“Eliud’s ability to not only win, but set a new personal record in this race is a testament to his extraordinary athletic ability and place as one of the best marathon athletes in the world. We congratulate him on this incredible win and look forward to continuing to work with him,” the Nike statement added.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie joked, tongue-in-cheek, about the Nike shoes, saying they would never be better than his preferred brand of Adidas.