Tag Archives: London 2012 Olympics

Learning 2012

Expectations which arise from impressive performance or a spell of great training, can result in an athlete’s target race going either one way or the other. Team GB and Kenyan performances from London 2012 provide plenty examples of how some athletes thrive under extreme pressure and others, for whatever reason, are unable to produce the goods when it matters. Despite not yet being at that level of competition, I am able to relate to and draw comparisons between the London 2012 Olympics and my own season.

Firstly, what an incredible Olympics it was – certainly the best I have witnessed in my 23 years on the planet. From organisation to determination and the inspirational to the spectacular, London 2012 had it all and was undoubtedly a resounding success. The added bonus for me is that I have a gut feeling that the Paralympics will inspire me further more.

Sir Steve Redgrave kicks off London 2012 by passing on the Olympic flame to stars of the future

As always with positive and successful events in life, there are always going to be negative people clutching at straws to find faults and criticisms. Thankfully these straws were the small kind you get with Ribena packs and the pessimists were drowned out by the billions of people who have been thrilled, inspired and motivated by the performance which London put on for the world. The stage was well and truly taken and I believe a generation has been inspired.

Whilst trying not to sound hypocritical, the only negative area which I will touch upon is that thankfully drugs cheats grabbed much less of the headlines than in previous years, however they were still there. It amazes me how Nadzeya Ostapchuk could have been naive enough to think that she would not get caught doping in this day and age. It baffles me equally as much that she could take satisfaction from winning a tainted medal and therefore deny other athletes their reward for years of hard work and sacrifice. Articles are going to be about the only ceremony Gong Lijiao of China will receive after she was bumped up from 4th to the Bronze medal position as a result of the Belarusian’s cheating in the women’s Shot Put competition. Valerie Adams of New Zealand was rightly promoted to Olympic Champion and Evgeniia Kolodko of Russia was moved up from bronze to silver.

Ostapchuk (centre) with her tainted medal

Anyway enough of the negative. What was most inspiring for me was that at one point during the Games, the north-east of Scotland would have been sitting 10th in the medal table had they been a nation. The reason this provides me with increased motivation is not because of some misguided pro-Scottish feeling, but because living in Kenya has showed me that when your neighbours achieve great things, this automatically raises the bar and sets the standard for others to go and at least match.

For whatever individual reasons, the Kenyan team did not enjoy the success they had hoped for and which they have become accustomed to. It was lovely to see that the message coming out of Olympic Marathon favourite (but finished 4th), Mary Keitany’s camp was along the lines of “win or lose, it will always be together.” Another example was in the men’s Marathon where pre race favourite, Wilson Kipsang (bronze medallist) said afterwards: “some days you win and some days you don’t.” We can learn a great deal from the Kenyan attitude despite their relative lack of success in London 2012, as I am sure it has played a huge role in their past triumphs.

My summer track season started promisingly after returning in late May from 3 months of altitude training in Kenya. I enjoyed 5-6 weeks of personal bests and winning performances but unfortunately suffered from chest infections and bugs for the best part of a month after that. Now back fully fit and training well I felt disappointed after relatively good performances in the Division 1 British Athletics League match on Saturday just past in Windsor. Having had a few days to reflect and take on board advice from my Dad/co-coach, Mel Edwards and my other coach, Grant Smith I have realised that you cannot expect personal bests in every race just because you are feeling in great shape. With 2 races left this season (BMC 800 metres tonight in Watford and BMC 1500 metres in Bedford on Saturday) I aim to relax, stay positive but not overly optimistic and just go out there and enjoy my racing and hopefully a personal best or two might come in tandem.

Maybe, and I hope, one day there will be no need for me to draw these comparisons between the world’s best and my own.

David Rudisha leads home the fastest 800m race in history in what was ‘only’ one of two gold medals for the Kenyan team in London

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Keitany Express heading for London via New York

Winning London Marathon 2011. Photos courtesy of The Telegraph.

By Myles Edwards.   Reporting from Iten, Kenya

Interview published on runnersworld.com Thursday 13th October 2011

Mary Jepkosgei Keitany, the 2011 London Marathon champion, ran her first race in 2006.  The Shoe4Africa road race, a 10k (but now a 5k) awarded prizes to the first 20 finishers. Mary was 21st. It could be argued that this result provided the catalyst for the altitudinal heights which the 5 ft 1” Kalenjin’s career has now reached. However, it was evident when speaking with her in Iten,Kenya, on Saturday that her granite-like determination was engrained in her long before that race.

Coached by Gabriele Nicola, Keitany is now a multiple world record holder. Growing up as a child inKenya, Mary was not short of role models and she states Paul Tergat and Tegla Loroupe as her idols.  Having athletes such as these to look up to not only planted the seeds of inspiration but instilled a burning desire for Mary to try and match their achievements.

Photo by Victah Sailer

Her coach, Gabriele Nicola, provided great insight into the reasons behind her success:

“Mary is talented, she is light and she has a big engine.  Some people are born to run fast.  However, on top of this she has a professional attitude and great discipline.  There is no secret.  Talent is useless for people if they do not have the correct attitude.”

Speaking with both of them earlier this week, it was clear to see the huge amount of mutual respect and admiration they have for one another.  Mary said:

“Gabriele does a great job as our coach and his training is very good. The best thing is that he is always with us and is very supportive when showing us what exactly to do.”

(By ‘us’ Mary is referring to the elite group which contains Sharon Cherop, Helena Kirop, Agnes Kiprop, Lydia Cheromei, Peninah Arusei and Hilda Kibet. These athletes are coached by Gabriele Nicola and some managed by Gianni Demadonna.)

With already world records galore to her name, I quizzed Mary on whether she saw Paula Radcliffe’s world best of 2.17.42 as an achievable target.  She responded in her typical modest but confident manner:

“It is maybe possible.  Now that Florence (Kiplagat) has also run 2.19 there is competition there to maybe do it sometime.”

Mary was unsure as to whether Radcliffe’s world record should stand.  The time of 2.15.25 was controversially deemed ineligible by the IAAF last month due the presence of male pacemakers:

“I am not sure.  It is a good time.  What I do believe is that a male pacemaker does make a difference when you are looking to run that pace.  It will not be possible to get a woman to pace for 2.15.”

With her sights set firmly on victory in next month’s ING New York City Marathon, Mary feels that she has improved a lot since her third place finish in the race last year:

“I have worked very hard since last year. I want to go faster. I want to control the race from the start and make it quicker.”

Winning the 2011 London Marathon stands out as Mary’s favourite achievement to date, but she would not be completely drawn on whether it would be enough to guarantee selection for the 2012 Olympics:

“I will do New York first, that is what I am focusing on. After New York, I can think about the Olympics but until then it is very important to have complete focus on my next race in New York. If I run well there, then I think that the two performances will be enough.”

Gabriele elaborated on Mary’s thoughts regardingKenya’s 2012 Olympic selection:”The problem is not with selection.

“The aim is to be ready and stay free of injury for the Olympics. We hope that Mary will stay okay from now until then. You cannot predict what will happen between now and then but the three most likely to be selected are Mary Keitany, Edna Kiplagat, and Florence Kiplagat.”

Although the focus of this cheerful, pocket-sized rocket is firmly set on the streets ofNew York, be under no illusions that barring injury or illness, she will unleash her artillery of weapons on her favourite course in 2012.

 

Mary Keitany career record

In 2007, she made her mark internationally with a second place behind Lornah Kiplagat (who won in a world record half-marathon time) in the IAAF World Road Running Championships inUdine,Italy. Following the birth of her first child in June 2008, her first race back was the World 10km inBangalore,India, in May 2009, where she finished a very close second behind Aselefech Mergia ofEthiopiaand ran a personal best 32:09. Four months later she won the 2009 Lille Half Marathon inFrancein a time of 1:07:00–making her the seventh fastest ever over the distance. Next was the 2009 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships inBirmingham, which Keitany won, breaking the Championship record with a 1:06:36.

In 2010, she broke the world record for 25 kilometers inBerlin, winning in 1:19:53 and also scooped first prize in the Abu Dhabi Half Marathon.  This year she went on to break the world half marathon record in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE with a time of  1:05:50, breaking a record along the way for 20k (1:02:36) and setting world bests at 8k and 10 miles. Keitany then earned her emphatic win inLondonin April, covering the 26.2 miles in 2:19:19.

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