Determination and sheer hard work captures Abel Kirui’s drive to win races when competing for the national team.
Kirui, an Assistant Superintendent of Police based in Mombasa, has won world championships marathon contests twice –Berlin (2009) and Daegu in 2011.
And his mettle will be put to test once again when he lines up at the Barcelona Marathon on Sunday which would earn him a call up to marathon squad to World Athletics Championships set for Eugene, Oregon, USA, on July 15- 24.
“I will compete at Barcelona Marathon on Sunday. My training is going on well. We are doing some build ups and long runs. I expect a tough race. I always do well in flat courses and I believe Barcelona, which is a fast course, will earn me victory,” said Korir.
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“World Championships is my biggest goal. I will strive to make the team and, perhaps, make history. And all is possible through prayer to God. If I win, I will dedicate it to our late President Mwai Kibaki.
“It’s through President Kibaki’s term that I excelled a lot in marathon. He honoured me twice and even got promoted at the National Police Service. I cherish those moments.”
Kirui always banks on blessings he believes his late grandmother, Tamining Chemaiyo, passed on to him.
For this reason, his preparation for 2009 World Championships in Berlin stands out a memorable one.
The 39-year-old Kirui from Samitoi village in Nandi County, started fetching blessings from his then 86-year-old grandmother. And he still banks on it even as prepares for the showdown in Mumbai.
“Over the years, I have been fetching blessings from my late grandmother. Before I went to compete in Amsterdam Marathon (in 2014), she had been hospitalised. She told me that she had given me her blessings. She died the same day after I competed in Amsterdam. I still believe that her blessings make me excel in athletics,” said Kirui.
That is not bad for a boy who braved numerous challenges in his childhood, burning with a desire to post stellar performance in class work and make headway to university –or, at best, get recruited to the disciplined forces as a cadet officer and then athletics.
But Kirui had unbridled love for athletics and the disciplined forces right from childhood.
“I could walk almost 10 kilometres away to follow that military parade on a black and white TV set during national holiday celebrations. And that’s what actually drives me up to now,” said Kirui.
“I love Kenyan military and athletics outlook, and that’s what actually drives me. I put more effort when it comes to doing something for my country, regardless of the weather conditions of the day….I work with Administration Police (AP) and swore to do any duty for the benefit of Kenya.”
The last born in a family of four developed interest in athletics while a pupil at Simatoi Primary School in Nandi South, participating in 1,500 metres.
“I used to admire Paul Tergat (former world marathon record holder). I could write in marker pen the name ‘Tergat’ in my school games T-shirt and longed that one day I would be like him,” said Kirui.
Kirui, a Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church member, could soon have his childhood dream come true, winning Ndakaini half marathon that was presided over by Paul Tergat.
“That was not enough as I had another encounter with Tergat. He handed me an award at the 2009 Sports Personality of the Year (Soya) gala,” he said.