BY JONATHAN KOMEN
She was glad to have made the cut to the 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships in Moscow, Russia, next month.
Despite basking in her Beijing Olympic gold medal, Nancy Jebet Lagat is keen to have her name entered in the annals of history as the first Kenyan to win women’s Olympic and Worlds women’s 1,500m gold medals.
And her stern-faced looks, the never-say-die spirit, clearly describes her drive to deliver Kenya’s first 1,500m medal at Russia’s Luzhniki Sports Complex.
Kenya has not won a medal in women’s 1,500m since IAAF World Championships began in 1983 – with Russia, USA and Bahrain runners claiming a bigger slice of the glory.
Lagat, a Kenya Air Force runner, finished third to World Indoor champion Hellen Obiri and world junior champion Faith Chepng’etich at the national trials.
“The preparations are fine... My plans in Moscow are underway. I wanted to make it at the trials first, since it is simply very challenging. I harbour ambitions for gold but I know it is no easy task,” said Lagat.
Lagat will be longing to impress in Moscow for it will serve a perfect gift as she celebrates her birth on August 22nd –four days after the World Championships.
“I am grateful this year that I can afford a smile after injury ruled me out for two-and-half years. We can deliver the medal, but I do not know of the Diamond League trophy in which the Swedish runner (Abeba Aregawi) tops,” said Lagat.
She needs to be at her best to stop a stellar line-up, which comprises season leader Aregawi (3:56.60), Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba (3:57.54) and Gabrielle Anderson (4:01.48) of USA they posted at the Diamond League meeting.
Chepng’etich (3:56.98), the second in the season standings, and Obiri (4:01.41) are also in the mix.
Lagat, an alumna of Kapkenda Girls’ High in Keiyo South, will no doubt have a mountain to climb in Moscow.
“I always do not look at other runners, but plan my own race and I believe the wide experience I have had in the race will be quite helpful.
“It motivates and means a lot to me because I know very well that many wanted to make the team but could not,” said Lagat, who is married to marathoner Kenneth Cheruiyot.
She could be headed to Moscow to change the pecking order after finishing outside medal bracket several times in major championships.
Lagat, who was the 2010 Kenyan Sports Woman of the Year, did not look outside home for inspiration as her father Joseph Lagat was an international long distance runner.
Lagat is a cousin of former Amsterdam Marathon winner Alice Timbilil and both attended Kapkenda Girls High School and shone in the junior level.
“At home, I could meet runners training by the roadside and I felt I admired athletics. My brother David Lagat is an upcoming 1,500m runner,” Lagat added.