Double winner Lagat is turning out to be like wine
Reports by Mutwiri Mutuota in New Delhi, India
In a sport defined by times, Nancy Jebet Lagat continues to defy all odds.
Like fine wine, she seems to get better and better with age. On Monday, she ventured into territory alien to any other female athlete when she completed the 800m and 1,500m distance double at the Commonwealth Games.
"It’s unbelievable, I was not even thinking of that. All I wanted to do was to aid my Kenyan team. My knee still hurts but running is all about tactics and when the body has a problem, then its time to use the head," Lagat, who now holds the Olympics, African and Commonwealth titles over 1500m as well as the two-lap crown at the Club Games told FeverPitch.
On Friday, she raced a games record 4:05.26 to notch her first gold for Team Kenya. "I’m not sure I will compete in the 800m race. I will warm down, gauge my body since I’m not fully fit and see," she said then.
However, the allure of history proved to be too strong to resist and less than 48 hours later she dusted herself and lined-up for the women 800m heats.
Competing in the second heat, Lagat was at some point trailing the pack as they came to the final bend before summoning her quality to finish second (2:01.82) behind England’s Emma Jackson (2:01.63).
That gave challengers a ray of hope. The great champion was limping and come Monday night’s final, they lined up to mow the Olympic champion.
However, the veteran of 14 years still held all the aces at her sleeve, allowing India’s Luka Kintu to play the rabbit role as she held on to the inside lane.
At 250m to the line, she injected the burst of pace that stretched the field before easing off for her second victory at the Jawaharal Nehru Stadium in 2:00.01, the fastest time ever run on Indian soil.
So, what makes her tick at championships? "What many athletes do not realise is at major events, the most important thing is to train and time yourself for qualification to the final. Once you achieve that, then anything is possible," she confided.
Despite the fact she is yet to break the magical sub 4:00 barrier over 1,500m and has only dipped under 2:00 once in 800m, Jebet continues to trounce her rivals to top honours.
She came to Delhi at the back of a punishing campaign, one that included victory in the inaugral IAAF Diamond League as well as overcoming the pressure of her home crowd to race to the African title.
"It’s been a great year and to complete it this way is a blessing. I’m happy to have done my country proud and my aim is to remain as competitive next year. I will take part in a few Diamond League meetings but my main aim is the World Championships.
"I felt bad to miss out on the title last year in Berlin. I don’t like talking about it but if I stay away from injury, then that’s my aim."
If Jebets resolve clicks in Daegu, another chapter in athletics will be written since no female athlete has ever held Olympic Games, World, Commonwealth Games and the continental titles concurrently.
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