El Paso, Texas: Emmanuel Korir (right) was named the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Athlete of the Week for the second week in a row.. Korir set the all-time world best with a time of 1:14.97 in the 600m at the New Mexico Cherry & Silver Collegiate Invitational. During the final lap Korir took the lead and finished nearly three seconds before teammate Jonah Koech, who took second place. (Photo courtesy UTEP Track & Field)
FIRST read about how ‘voiceofsport.net’ reported on a university student in El Paso, USA, who was on the verge of taking over the mantle from 800m world record holder, David Rudisha.
Then follow Elias Makori’s [Nation Media Group’s Managing Editor for Sport – pictured] account of Emmanuel Korir arriving on the scene and while running in London alongside David Rudisha, how the Kenyans will provide all the thrills in the men’s 800m race.
‘voiceofsport.net’, Nairobi, February 14, 2017 – ‘Paul Ereng’ thinks he has at UTEP, man to take over 800m kingdom after David Rudisha’
UNIVERSITY of Texas at El Paso [UTEP] freshman Emmanuel Korir set a world indoor best of 1:14.97 for 600m on January 20, 2017. Korir had only begun training for the 800m in April, 2016 but by May he had qualified for the final of the Kenyan Championships; where he ran a personal best of 1:46.94 to take eighth place.
The connections between the old coach and his young pupil are too obvious to ignore. Both University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) in USA, coach Paul Ereng’ and freshman Emmanuel Korir began their careers as 400-metre runners before moving up to the 800m.
Emmanuel Korir (084) wins ahead of Kipyegon Bett (073) at Nyayo National Stadium, Nairobi on Saturday
Both are Kenyans who came to the United States for college (Ereng’ starred at the University of Virginia – UVA). Both, at one point, ran faster than anyone in the history of the world (Ereng’ held the world indoor record for 800m from 1989-2000; Korir set a world indoor best of 1:14.97 for 600m on January 20, 2017, a mark subsequently bettered by American Cas Loxsom). And now they share a campus in the hills of West Texas.
One item they do not share is an Olympic gold medal, but to hear Ereng’, tell it that may not be the case permanently.
“I think he could be a world champion in the 800,” says Ereng’, who surprisingly won both NCAAs and the Olympics as a freshman at UVA during his first year as an 800 runner in 1988.
Good sport … winner Emmanuel Korir (084) congratulates a competitor after the finish of the 800m at the Kenyan trials for London. Looking on is second placed Kipyegon Bett (073). Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sport-pot.com
Korir announced himself to American fans with two superlative performances in January — a world-leading 1:46.50 800 in Nashville on January 14 and that 1:14.97 600 in Albuquerque a week later — but his talent was clear to Ereng’ when he began recruiting Korir last summer.
Jonah Koech, the UTEP second year who ran 1:46.53 last spring, had trained with the legendary Brother Colm O’Connell, coach of double Olympic champion David Rudisha, back in Kenya. Koech had heard that Korir, who is from a village just outside of Iten and went to the same high school as Rudisha, had begun working with Brother Colm and was interested in coming to the United States for college. Ereng’ took a visit to Kenya last June to check Korir out in-person and was reminded of himself.
1988 Seoul Olympics 800m Kenyan hero Paul Ereng’, now coach at University of Texas at El Paso [UTEP] in the USA in an interview about where he finds the Kenyan talent for his varsity cross country, track and field programme. His latest is hotshot Emmanuel Korir who has made Kenya’s team to the IAAF World Championships in London next month
“When I looked at him, he looked more explosive than most endurance event athletes,” Ereng’ says. “He looked more to me like a good 400-meter runner. I came from that kind of background myself as a young man so I thought, ‘I’ll see how this one goes.’” Other Kenyans on the UTEP track and field roster include Eldoret’s Jonah Koech, Lillian Koech and Cosmas Boit, Michael Saruni of Eldama Ravine, Baringo and Truphena Sum of Kitale.
Korir had only begun training for the 800 in April, but by May he had qualified for the final of the Kenyan Championships, where he ran a personal best of 1:46.94 to take eighth. Ereng’ had seen enough to offer Korir a scholarship, and he came to the US in August 2016.
Coach Bro Colm O’Connel (centre) mentor of David Rudisha (left), trained Emmanuel Korir in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County then recommended him (Korir) to Paul Ereng’ for studies and an athletics programme at the University of Texas at El Paso [UTEP]
The first thing Ereng’ had to do once he began working with Korir was increase his mileage. Korir had spent most of his life as an athlete training as a 400 runner, and if he were to one day run the 800 at a high level, he needed to develop the endurance to survive preliminary rounds.
Until then, Korir will keep learning under Ereng’, deepening the connection they already share. -Reported by Jonathan Gault, letsrun.com
(…. And now on to Elias Makori at Nyayo National Stadium, Nairobi last Saturday when Emmanuel Korir emerged top of the 800m battle for places in Kenya’s London World Championships team):
“Last weekend, Nyayo National Stadium hosted Kenya’s elite athletes for the London World Championships trials.
As has been the case in previous selections for global competitions, last weekend’s contest was full of high adrenaline action and saw upsets, new stars born and veterans re-born.
The men’s 5,000m during the Kenyan trials for the IAAF World Championships in Nairobi last Saturday … Athletics Kenya has been criticized for “poor marketing leading to empty terraces at Nyayo National Stadium and failure by AK to make track and field more appealing to the public
World champion Julius Yego hurled a stadium record 87.97 metres in the javelin while West Texas-based US collegiate champion Emmanuel Korir stunned seasoned campaigners, including IAAF Diamond League series champion Ferguson Rotich and former world junior champion Alfred Kipketer, to clinch the 800m in 1:43.86, injecting fresh excitement into the two-lap race.
University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) freshman Korir, a product of legendary Irish talent scout Bro Colm O’Connell, and who is coached by 1988 Seoul Olympics 800m champion Paul Ereng’ at the talent-rich UTEP, is one to watch, having previously run the 400m in 44.53 and a world indoor record 1:14.97 over the rarely-run 600m.
His UTEP college-mate Michael Saruni, also a freshman, finished third on Saturday in 1:44.61 behind Kipyegon Bett (1:44.04) heralding a new era, once again mid-wifed by Bro Colm and Ereng’, and which, most certainly, leaves UTEP athletic director Bob Stull gleeful in expectation.
It is interesting to note that Korir is only the third man in the history of track and field to have simultaneously run the 400m in under 45 seconds and the 800m in under 1:44, the last such feat coming 41 years ago through Cuba’s “white lightning” Alberto Juantorena who won an Olympic double in Montreal in 1976 (Games which Kenya boycotted), running the 400m in 44:28 and the 800m in 1:43.70. Juantorena, the legend, currently sits on the IAAF Council.
Bubbling with enthusiasm … children at Iten on Wednesday getting ready for the “Tree Planting Run”. After the run and planting a tree via the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai’s Greenbelt Movement, the children will earn tickets to attend the IAAF World U18 Championships in Nairobi on July 12-16. It is one of the Local Organising Committee’s intiative to enable as many kids from around the country as possible to have a world class experience
World and Olympic defending champion David Rudisha holds the 800m record at 1:40.91 while his 400m personal best time is 45.15, making him wary of the threat he will face in London August from Korir, and also Saruni, who have both caused some waves since landing in Texas last summer under the wings of Ereng’.
Rudisha sat out the Kenya trials on the strength of a defending champion’s wild card while Rotich (fourth in 1:44.86) missed the automatic top three qualifying slots but was named in the team that proceeds to camp, leaving Athletics Kenya’s selectors with the unenviable task of cutting the squad down to four as Rotich is also armed with a wild card as winner of the last Diamond League series over the distance.
Plant a tree, grab a ticket to be in Nairobi for the IAAF World U18 Championships … a little girl in her bid to watch a world class event courtesy of the Local Organising Committee’s collaboration with the environment and rights programme, Greenbelt Movement
But while the men’s 800m offers hope, there is cause for concern in the women’s two-lap race where only five athletes competed in Saturday’s final, won in commanding fashion by Olympic bronze medallist Margaret Nyairera.
For a race in which Kenya has won world and Olympic titles through Pamela Jelimo, Janet Jepkosgei and Eunice Sum, Athletics Kenya’s tacticians need to ride on the upcoming IAAF World Under-18 Championships to nurture fresh talent for the future.
It was also sports day, tree planting and time to popularize athletics at the Moi Educational Centre in Nairobi (above). The chief guest was 2007 world cross country champion (for The Netherlands) Lornah Kiplagat (middle of top picture in dark glasses and right, below) who also launched the “Plant-A-Tree-Get-A- Ticket” programme, an initiative of the Local Organising Committee and the environment Greenbelt Movement
Besides Nyairera’s brilliant sub-two win (1:59.68), I was happy to see the experienced Eunice Sum (2:0.03) make the team. Sum is a committed, big stage performer who could cause some jitters for the world’s runaway best trio of South Africa’s Caster Semenya, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba and Nyairera in London.
Meanwhile, just like in the men’s 800m, the men’s 5,000m also produced new stars with upstarts Cyrus Ruto (13:31.5), Davis Kiplangat (13:31.7) and Geoffrey Kimutai Koech (13:33.9) sweeping the podium in a race Kenya, bizarrely, failed to land a single athlete in the final at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio.
A better [above, below and bottom) environment, plenty of trees … in the scramble for IAAF World U18 Championships tickets
It will be a tall order for the young Kenyans to beat Great Britain’s defending champion and home favourite Mo Farah along with Ethiopians Yomif Kejelcha and Muktar Edris, the trio having run the fastest times over the distance this year.
And while there were many talking points on the track, there was equally quite some concern off it with poor marketing seeing our world-beating athletes run before virtually empty terraces at Nyayo National Stadium. Athletics Kenya really need to up their game to make track and field more appealing to the public. They must realise that running a world-class event, like the trials, is totally different from a high school meeting.
Pupils, teachers and staff of Kenton College, Nairobi after tree-planting in the IAAF World U18 Championships’ Local Organising Committee and Greenbelt Movement initiative
The absence of competition day entertainment and pre-event marketing are some of the factors that stole the glamour off a competition that’s regarded the third most competitive and classy after the Olympic Games and World Championships, perhaps only rivalled by the equally competitive US trials.
The empty terraces at Nyayo National Stadium should be a wake-up call for the Local Organising Committee of the July 12-16 IAAF World Under-18 Championships to work double hard to ensure the much bigger competition venue at Kasarani is full to the brim.
With more aggression on the home straight, the LOC can turn around things and draw huge crowds”.
– Additional reporting by Correspondents and Agencies
Courtesy of http://voiceofsport.net/