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Kinyamal: God help me succeed ‘King David’

ATHLETICS By Jonathan Komen and Agencies | March 14th 2021
Wycliffe Kinyamal of Kenya reacts after winning in the men's 800m event of the IAAF Diamond League Shanghai athletics competition, in Shanghai on May 12, 2018. [AFP PHOTO / Johannes]

Things don’t just happen. They are made to happen. And that’s what Wycliffe Kinyamal, the Commonwealth Games 800m champion, longs to achieve.

Kinyamal, who is also the Africa junior 800m bronze medalist, wants to fit into the shoes of world 800m record holder David Rudisha and perhaps ensure the two-lap race dominance remains in his rural home in Poroko Village in Transmara County.

Interestingly, men’s 800m supremacy was initially dominated by athletes from Kabirisang village in Nandi County. They include former world record holder Kenyan-born-Dane Wilson Kipketer, former Africa champion Sammy Kosgei and 2008 Olympic champion Wilfred Bungei.

But it’s no doubt that Kinyamal never looked outside his rural home for inspiration. He comes from a region with a rich 800m pedigree. They include 1987 world championships sensation Stephen Ole Marai, two-time world 800m champion Billy Konchella, 2011 World Youth champion Leonard Kosencha among others.

That’s not bad for the happy-looking Kimanyal, who was a high jumper while a student at Mogonga High School in Kisii County in 2015.

2016 Rio Olympics - Athletics - Final - Men's 800m Final - Olympic Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 15/08/2016. David Lekuta Rudisha (KEN) of Kenya celebrates winning the gold medal. [REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach]

Kinyamal said: “I participated in high jump while in secondary school. After school, I stayed at home for some time before my friend Leshan Togom advised me to take up athletics. I heeded the advise.

“I started training in early 2016 and that I made the team to Africa Junior Championships where I won bronze medal. That motivated me to go Keringet Athletics Training Camp in Nakuru County. I later relocated to Global Sports Communications camp in Kaptagat,” he said.

He trains alongside three-time world half marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor, Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge and Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich.

In 2017, he established himself as an elite runner with impressive performances at the European track circuit getting a personal best of 1:43.94 in the Rialto meeting which boosted his credentials. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, Kinyamal, 23, showed his championship pedigree when he beat a rich field that included Botswana’s Nijel Amos to win his first global title.

However, his rapid rise was halted with a long-term back injury that saw him miss the 2019 World Championships in Doha. “My lower back injury gave me a setback, it was painful missing the World Championships in Doha after winning my first medal at Commonwealth. I was confident but my plans were reigned with the injury,” Kinyamal said.

The postponement of 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic was an ultimate mixed blessing as it gave Kinyamal a lifeline for a full recovery and hope to cut the Kenyan team.

“I’m back in training and my Olympic plans are on the right track. I have competed in a few local races. I can say it’s responding pretty well. My dream of replacing David (Rudisha) is still on. I really want to achieve this,” he said.

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