BY JONATHAN KOMEN IN COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
|Wilson Kipsang Kamworor waves the national flag after winning the World Half-Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, yesterday. [PHOTO: AFP]|
Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor and Gladys Cherono’s athletics scripts read like that of most Kenyan world-beating athletes — that of drawing inspiration from great athletes.
For Kipsang, he had unbridled love for athletics from his childhood, but haboured no interest in full-time athletics.
The 21-year-old Kipsang did not look outside his village for inspiration.
He comes from a region with a rich long athletics pedigree in 5,000m and 10,000m.
Within a radius of 10-kilometres from his home in Keiyo South lives the world’s long distance greats, among them double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot, former Military Games 5,000m champion Sammy Kipketer and Kenyan-turned-Qatari Albert Chepkurui.
As a young boy, Kipsang would sneak away from home during weekends to the nearby athletics-rich Kapkenda Girls High School, where he peeped through the live fence to watch athletics world-beaters train.
Former Olympic 1,500m champion Nancy Jebet Lagat, former world 3,000m champion Veronica Nyaruai and former world cross-country silver medalist Prisca Jepleting are among an armada of globe-trotting stars who studied at the school.
“I loved the sport from childhood. I am happy that I can actualise my dreams here. I now want to break the world in 21km this season,” said Kipsang, who attended Lelboinet Secondary School in Keiyo South.
Not bad for a boy who did well in English and had trained his sights to become a lawyer. Incidentally, he is a policeman and will always enforce the law.
“I just to practice athletics that will enable me get a scholar to USA and pursue a degree in law. That was purely for the ardent love of English, which I scored well in my class,” said Kipsang.
But Joel Ruto, his games teacher, who spotted his running talent, advised him to take up athletics seriously.
“His pieces of advice inspired me a lot. And even after this, I still faced another challenge since I feared to train in public,” he said.
Kipsang, who lacked confidence in athletics, was afraid that locals would mock him while in training and this saw him take too long to engage in full-timer training. He could win the inter-class competitions in school and take a low profile thereafter.
He now draws inspiration from Uganda’s Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich, who trains at Global Sports Communications in Kaptagat.
But Cherono, the Africa 10,000m champion’s story is not another cliche, and offers a lot of renewed hope to fresh, upcoming athletes.
The first born in a family of two wants to inspire her only sibling Wesley Kipkorir, who is a recruit at Recruits Training School in Eldoret.
“I want to motivate him well. I know he may have not watched me but he will get the news,” said the mother of one.