Emmanuel Wanyonyi: World record pushes me to work harder

Emmanuel Wanyonyi

Kenya's Emmanuel Wanyonyi holds the trophy after winning the men's 800m during the 2023 Prefontaine Classic and Wanda Diamond League final at Hayward Field on September 17, 2023 in Eugene, Oregon. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Emmanuel Wanyonyi reckons men’s One Mile record motivates him to work harder as he prepares to represent Kenya for the first time at the Olympic Games. 

The world 800 metres silver medalist who is fresh from running a world-leading time of one minute and 43.57 seconds in the two-lap race at the Kip Keino Classic on April 20 at Nyayo National Stadium, yesterday set a road mile world record at the ‘Road to Records’ event in Herzogenaurach, Germany, finishing with a time of three minutes and 54.5 seconds.

The ‘Road to Records’, now in its fourth edition, is an event designed to make a running history at the Adidas headquarters in Germany, and athletes compete in a loop.

The 19-year-old broke the previous record of 3:56.13 over one mile (1,600m) set by American Hobbs Kessler in October last year at the World Road Running Championships in Riga, Latvia.

Afterwards, Wanyonyi who is a member of 2Running Athletics Club, told Nation Sport that he didn’t expect to clock the fastest time in the distance given that it’s not his specialty. 

 “We have less than three months before the Olympic Games in Paris and I’m going back home to continue with my preparations because I know it will be tight and every athlete is eyeing the race,” Wanyonyi said on phone from Germany on Saturday. 

 “As you are aware, the Kenyan trials are just like a championship and are very tight, so I have to qualify and be selected to join the national team and then prepare for the real game because it will be my first Olympic Games event, and I want to impress,” Wanyonyi told Nation Sport on phone from Germany.

On Saturday, America’s Kessler finished second behind Wanyonyi in 3:57, while South Africa’s Ryan Mphalele was third in 3:57. 

The World Road Running 5km bronze medalist, Agnes Jebet Ngetich of Kenya, missed the women’s only world record by two seconds in the 10km race after running 30:03 ahead of her compatriot Margret Chelimo who timed 30:39. Jesica Chelangat of Kenya finished third after timing 30:46.

Jebet started Saturday’s race on a high note. After the pacemakers had dropped off, she surged forward, with Chelimo in tow up to the 6km mark where she engaged another gear and led up to the finish line.

Jebet in an interview said that she had set her eyes on lowering the world record but it proved hard as the race wore on. She has vowed to lower the record in the next events. 

 “Of course this year I’m longing to compete in the Olympic Games in the 10,000m but after missing the world record here by two seconds, it’s hard to accept it but I believe I will achieve it soon,” she told Nation Sport on phone. 

Jebet believes that her season would be great after finishing fifth at the World Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, Serbia in March. Her main focus now remains to qualify to represent Kenya at the Olympic Games.

In the men’s 10km race, Nicholas Kimeli ran a brilliant race before surging forward in the last three kilometres and taking control of the race to the finish line, where he clocked 27:04 ahead of his compatriot Sabastian Sawe (27:06) and Burundi’s Rodrigue Kwizera (27:07).

In the 5km women’s race, Ethiopia’s Medina Eisa bagged victory after timing 14:38 ahead of her compatriots Melknot Wudu (14:40) and Fotyen Tesfay (14:41) coming in second and third positions respectively. Kenya’s Diana Chepkorir finished fourth after clocking 15:01.

Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha led his compatriot in winning the men’s 5km race timing 13:00 ahead of Addisu Yihune who timed 13:05 while Bahraini Birhanu Balew was third in 13:12. Kenya’s upcoming Raphael Dapash was in fourth place after clocking 13:13.

In the women’s One Mile race, Kenya’s Nelly Chepchirchir crossed the finish line in a personal best time of 4:31 ahead of USA’s Addison Wiley who clocked 4:32 with Great Britain’s Alexandra Bell finishing third after timing 4:33. 

Distance running legend Haile Gebreslassie of Ethiopia said that Wanyonyi would have even broken the record by two seconds but he started celebrating early. Gebreslassie said he was happy that the race had finally produced a new champion.

 “Many of the Adidas athletes are doing well and in the next three months they will be meeting with the world and discipline in training is the key. The sport brings us together and we are a family,” said Haile. 

A world record, world junior record and nine national records were achieved during the race.