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FAMILY AFFAIR IN RIO: Viola happy to represent Kenya as her brother flies US flag

1500m runner Viola Lagat training session ahead of Rio Olympics 2016 at Kipchoge Stadium Uasin Gishu County on July 19, 2016.[PHOTO:DENNIS OKEYO/STANDARD] (R) Bernard Lagat of the United States of America celebrates winning the Men's 5,000m Final on day nine of the 11th IAAF World Athletics Championships on September 2, 2007 at the Nagai Stadium in Osaka, Japan.

Viola Lagat is excited about representing Kenya at the forthcoming Olympics Games alongside her older brother, Bernard Lagat, who will be making his fifth stab at the Games.

While the 41-year-old Bernard will be wearing the colours of his adopted nation, the United States, his younger sister and training partner in Arizona where they live will be making her second appearance for Kenya’s national team at a global event.

Viola, 27, who made her debut at last year’s IAAF World Championship in Beijing, China, will be looking for a podium finish alongside Faith Chepng’etich and Nancy Chepkwemoi in the women’s 1,500m race.

Ironically, Bernard still holds the Kenyan record in the 1,500m, but he has since graduated to the longer 5,000m race where he will be hoping to strike glory for the US in Rio Di Janeiro when the games begin on August 5. They end on August 21.

A sociology and psychology graduate from Florida State University, Viola is looking to improve on her poor show in Beijing where she was eliminated in the preliminaries.

“It’s amazing and a dream come true for our family to be at the Olympics at the same time. Last year my brother had an injury and missed the World Championship when I made my national team debut.



“I would have loved to be there with him. It was a nice experience for me to be at the World Championship for the first time,” she said at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret yesterday.

Viola draws inspiration from her brother, who has competed for both Kenya and the US, but she no intention of switching allegiance.

“Bernard helps me a lot to deal with both success and disappointment. He gives me guidance whenever I need it. I’m happy being Kenyan and he is happy being American, so I have no plans of changing nationality,” she added.

At the moment, Viola is fully focused on the Olympics. She says she has been making sure she gets enough sleep and stays hydrated, and has also been working hard at the team’s residential training venue in Uasin Gishu County.

On the doping allegations that have rocked Kenya in the past few years, the former St Monica High School student is requesting Kenyan fans to trust the team and give them a chance to represent them well in Rio.

“It’s not right to say everyone is doping in Kenya, but there are always some people who try to take shortcuts to success,” she said.

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