By JONATHAN KOMEN
Nairobi,Kenya:Bedan Karoki is longing to end Kenyan men’s 10,000m 12-year gold drought at the 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships in Moscow, Russia, next month.
Karoki said Charles Kamathi, who won Kenya’s 10,000m last gold medal at the 2011 World Championships in Edmonton, Canada, has tipped him to reclaim the medal at the showpiece in Luzhniki Stadium.
“I want to be another Charles Kamathi at the world championships. Kamathi spoke to me on telephone recently and told me that I had what it takes to win the title. I am in good shape and equal to the task,” Karoki told FeverPitch after training at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, yesterday.
Kamathi, who comes from Nyahururu alongside Karoki, beat three Ethiopians – in cluding former world record holder Haile Gebrselassie – to win the eighth IAAF World Athletics Championships in Edmonton, Canada.
Ethiopia’ Assefa Mezgebu settled for silver as Gebrselassie, who had four world titles to his credit, took the bronze.
Karoki, Paul Tanui and Africa bronze medalist Kenneth Kipkemoi will take on stiff Ethiopian challenge and Britain’s Olympic champion Mo Farah, who has been in top form this season.
The Japan-based Karoki, who is the national 10,000m trials winner, has a mountain to climb in Moscow as he stands in fifth place in the IAAF’s 10,000m season rankings after four Ethiopians.
They are Dejen Gebremeskel (26:51.02), Abera Kuma (26:52.85), Imane Merga (26:57.33) and Kenenisa Bekele (27:12.08).
“Mo Farah is just a man like me. I know he is in shape and I am equally good. We have also realised where we go wrong in the final stages,” said Karoki.
Kenya were relegated to bronze medals in Martin Irungu Mathathi (2007) and Moses Masai (2009) but were beaten to a podium finish in Daegu in 2011.
“The first 5,000m is slow, thus athletes like Mo Farah who have a strong finishing kick, save energy. I have fine-tuned my finishing power,” said Karoki.
Karoki, who trains in Japan with teammate Paul Tanui, said the race tactics have changed. “In Hengelo Diamond League, the Ethiopians ran a different race. But we are not far away from them. We hope to end Farah’s dream to remain unbeaten until retirement,” he said.
The 23-year-old Karoki said they have planned well with Tanui and would break the jinx in Moscow.
But deep down, when coach Sammy Rono is all sitting alone by the fire with a glass of mursik (sour milk) in his Ainabkoi home in Keiyo South, he must wonder if he has enough grips to stop the Ethiopian reigns in Moscow.
“The race is very competitive. Mo Farah is ready for the event and I have advised my athletes to check on video clips on the finishing point well,” said Rono.
Tanui, who was also in the Daegu squad, is also breathing fire.
“We will analyse our areas of weakness. I am grateful that I earned my place in team early enough this time unlike in the Daegu championships, where I was included late,” said Tanui, who trains with Karoki.