By Omulo Okoth in Lyndhurst, New Jersey

He is a chip off the old block. For those who watched Peter Rono humble the great middle distance runners will recognise the gait, humility and talent in Patrick. The sophomore at Lyndhurst High School is just breaking records here without breaking a sweat.

His father won the 1,500m gold at Seoul Olympics in 1988, beating the favourites, Peter Elliot and Steve Cram. His mother, Mary Kirui, won 5,000m bronze at the fourth All African Games in Nairobi in 1987, light years before he was born.

His parents and coaches are convinced he will go places. "I think he is headed for great things, if he maintains this momentum," said Peter, who, with Mary, watched him as he obliterated another cross-country record on Saturday.

SEE ALSO :Wildebeest delay, fire, delay and blame game

Unlimited potential

"He is got unlimited potential. The sky is the limit for the kid," said Mike Picardo, his coach. Patrick is aiming at breaking mum’s 5km record, which stands at 15:31. He has done 15:45. He is unassuming, easygoing and hugely talented. "He is a stellar, stellar kid," said Picardo.

Peter, a native of Kamobo in Nandi, works for New Balance shoes in the sales and marketing department. As the patron of a body helping talented Kenyans enter colleges in the US, he has up to 300 under his wing.

Seven of them are undertaking doctorate degrees, 35 masters degrees and 125 in their first degree courses at various colleges across the US.

"God helped me achieve what I have and I am duty- bound to give back to society," says Rono.

SEE ALSO :Pro-abortion push gathers pace as teen births soar

An alumnus of St Patrick’s Iten, Rono came to the US in 1987 after saving almost enough for his air fare. The balance was topped by the Cheruiyot brothers, Charles and Kipkoech. But after winning the Olympic gold in Seoul, he was overwhelmed by offers, 13 in total. He chose Mount St Mary’s University in Maryland where he competed and eventually coached. Unlike his compatriots who also won Olympic medals, he hardly competed after Seoul.

Resident coach

He was to later become the second resident coach (after Mike Kosgei) at the IOC/IAAF High Performance Training Centre in Eldoret.

But he soon quit to return to the US. His advice to athletes is simple. "Remember that God helps, respect yourself and other people and work hard. You do the right thing and leave the rest to God," he said.

Son says father never pushed him. "He always wanted me to run, but he never pushed me. He showed me his Olympic gold medal, but it never occurred to me that I would be an athlete," he recalls.

SEE ALSO :Billions gobbled up by Nairobi County, audit reveals

"But after joining Lyndhurst, I liked it," he says. Picardo knew Patrick from playing basketball in grade school. He also knew of the rich family background.

"I heard his sister Irene as a runner and I obviously knew that the family pedigree was there," said Picardo.

"Patrick started running with us in the summer and I knew he was a natural runner. He is a genetic freak," he says.