Prefontaine results point to Paris prosperity for Kenya

Beatrice Chebet

Beatrice Chebet poses for pictures after winning the women's 10,000m in a world record time of 28:54.14 during the 49th Pre Classic at Hayward Field.

Photo credit: Reuters

If the results of the Prefontaine Classic are anything to go by, then Kenyans have cause for optimism ahead of this year’s Paris Olympics.

It could be the year that the Lord has made that we may be glad and rejoice in it by virtue of a plentiful harvest at the Olympics

In the history of the Olympics, no Kenyan has ever won gold in the women’s 10,000m; I am convicted that that could change at this year’s edition.

If there is any Kenyan well-placed to get this monkey off my back, then it is Beatrice Chebet who smashed the world record for the 25-lap race with one of the most exceptional performances this year.

Clocking 28:54.14 in the women’s 10,000m speaks volume of an athlete who is just getting started and is undoubtedly on her way to more record-breaking feats.

Those who have watched her races keenly can attest to her indefatigable spirit that pushes her on to victory.

 At this year’s World Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, for example, she seemed out of contention in the women’s 10km race but came back guns blazing in the last lap to successfully defend her title.

If she continues with the same self-confidence and never-say-die attitude, then there is no reason she shouldn’t make history as the first Kenyan to win the women’s 10,000m.

History also awaits in the men’s 10,000m where Dan Mateiko and Nicholas Kimeli will be flying the national flag.

It has been over five decades since Naftali Temu clinched gold at the Olympics (in Mexico City in 1968); since then it has been a case of near-misses.

Having engineered a podium sweep at the Diamond League in Eugene, it would be a fatal mistake for other competitors to rule out Mateiko and Co causing an upset at the Olympics and making history.

Granted, the startlist for the men’s 10,000m in Paris will read like the who-is-who of long distance running; however, our brothers are equally equipped to deal with the big occasion as was seen at the Prefontaine Classic.

A special mention goes to Commonwealth Games 100m champion Ferdinand Omanyala who clocked a sub-10 seconds for the first time this year.

He has bounced back impressively from the disappointment of finishing fifth at the Kip Keino Classic in April and has earned a podium finish in the individual races he has competed in since then.

If he continues on the same trajectory, then another piece of history awaits as the first Kenyan sprinter to win an Olympics medal.

What a glorious moment that would be for Africa, Kenya and himself.

I believe he can do it; he is in the safe hands of coach Geoffrey Kimani.

Korir is Athletics Kenya’s Nairobi Branch Chairman. [email protected]