Ereng: New star Korir taking a day at a time

Kenya's Emmanuel Korir crosses the finish line to win the men's 800m during the 2018 IAAF Birmingham Diamond League athletics meeting at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham on August 18, 2018. PHOTO | BEN STANSALL |

What you need to know:

  • Ereng argues that the 1:44 here on Friday wasn’t representative of Korir’s form.
  • “He could have run faster, but this was a Diamond League final where time wasn’t of essence and the important thing was to win and get the title in the bag.”


Emmanuel Korir doesn’t wish to be drawn into any comparisons with 800 metres Olympic champion and world record holder David Rudisha.

His demeanour belies the huge potential he carries in his young legs, a character quite at odds with that of a man destined for great things.

In fact, the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) kinesiology (scientific study of human body movement) student is the exact opposite of his boisterous, if not downright arrogant, African-American manager Karen Locke.

Obviously beside herself with excitement at Korir’s recent spell of success, the bespectacled, dreadlocked Locke, whose blobby frame has most certainly seen better days, egocentrically brushes off any media attempts to get an interview on the 800 metres star’s rise at the team’s Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Brussels.

“I don’t know you! I won’t talk to you!,” she screams, walking off after a polite request for a quote on Korir’s final Diamond League race at Brussels’ King Baoudouin Stadium on Friday night, where he ran one minute, 44.72 seconds to secure the overall Diamond League title and trophy that comes with it.

It was a memorable night that also saw Kenya’s latest women’s steeplechase sensation Beatrice Chepkoech add a meet record to her world record (8:44.32) earlier in the year, when she clocked another sub nine-minutes time (8:55.10) at the King Baoudouin.

Organisers had asked for a halfway pace of 50.30 seconds targeting a sub 1:43 time in the 800m final, but with Commonwealth champion Wycliffe Kinyamal leading the pack at 400 metres with the clock reading 51:10, it was always going to be a slow race.

Nonetheless, Korir’s coach and Kenya’s 1988 Olympic 800 metres champion Paul Ereng is quite satisfied with the youngster’s season that saw him bag silver at the African Championships, run two sub-1:43 times and win the overall Diamond League title.

And yet, he’s still a student.

“He’s growing older and more mature,” Ereng says of the 23-year-old third-year kinesiology student whose first foray into global competition ended in disarray with injury at last year’s I IAAF World Championships at London’s Olympic stadium.

“Last year was his first international race at a high level. He came up strong but was also disappointed that he was injured,” he adds on the line from El Paso from where he watched the Diamond League final.

“I gave him a shock, but I told him in sport these things happen and I told him he needs to work himself back into good health and do it once more.”

And he did, impressing at the national trials for the African championships and eventually running twice under 1:43 in the Monaco and London legs of the Diamond League.

His run (1:42.05) at London’s Olympic stadium exorcised the ghosts of last year and saw him ranked as the sixth fastest all-time and the fastest since 2012 when Rudisha shattered the world record by running 1:40.91 in the same stadium that’s also home to English Premier League club West Ham United.

The Iten-born rising star is the only athlete to have dipped under both 45 seconds and 1:43 in the 400m and 800m, having improved his one-lap personal best to 44.21 at the Kenyan trials this year.

“Getting an injury is normal, but I was obviously disappointed with the injury in London but I knew I had to pick myself up and try again,” says Korir who is also the world indoor record holder over 600 metres (1:14.47), and who described Ereng as “more than just a coach.”

“There was one approach,” Ereng, the middle distance coach at UTEP explains.

“He prepared well. We kept all the plans under wraps and I kept telling him to take one day at a time and not to be coerced by being told ‘you can run very fast’. He, therefore came into the season strong.

e’s a humble guy who’s not cocky. A lot of athletes run for the money, but I tell Emmanuel that he has to love the sport and not take it as a business venture because he will retire young.

“The US collegiate system is good because you can combine running with studies and now that the season is over and school is about to begin, Emmanuel will have to shift focus back to studies after the Continental Cup in Ostrava.”

The Intercontinental Cup in Ostrava will be held on September 8 and 9 with Kenya’s Diamond League overall champions Korir, Chepkoech, Hellen Obiri, Conseslus Kipruto and Timothy Cheruiyot all in action in Africa colours.

Ereng argues that the 1:44 here on Friday wasn’t representative of Korir’s form.

“He could have run faster, but this was a Diamond League final where time wasn’t of essence and the important thing was to win and get the title in the bag.”