Kenyan athletes aim to settle a few scores with their perennial opponents at next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Kenya’s 10,000 metres duo Bedan Karoki and Paul Tanui reckon they have identified what it takes to finally overhaul British double Olympic and world champion Mo Farah, who has twice denied them a major title with his fast finishes. And 2013 women’s world 800 metres champion Eunice Sum has warned South Africa’s 2009 world champion, Caster Semenya, who has emerged as a top contender for the title, to prepare for the battle of her life.
Farah, who won 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres at the 2012 London Games, repeated the feat at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing with a devastating kick on the final lap that left his rivals in his wake.
“He has always beaten us in the last lap, but we have worked on that and hope to turn the tables against him this time in Rio,” Karoki, 25, told Reuters on Thursday. “We are very good in lapping — indeed much better than him — but he waits until it matters most, and that is what we have worked on this time.
“He is the only major threat and I am sure we will beat him,” added Karoki, who finished fifth at the London Games and won silver at this year’s World Half Marathon and last year’s World Cross Country Championships.
The other two Kenyan representatives are Geoffrey Kamworor, winner in the World Half Marathon and world cross-country events, and also silver medallist at last year’s World Championships in Beijing, and Tanui, who won bronze in Beijing. Sum, who won gold in the 2013 World Championships in Moscow and bronze last year in Beijing, is confident the Kenyan contingent will give South African Semenya “a run for her money”, despite her impressive return to form in the Diamond League in Doha in April and show-stopping performance in Monaco earlier this month.
“People think nobody can stop her this year, but people are training. We are training. We will give her a run for her money. Olympics are different from the (Diamond League) circuit,” she said.
“800 metres is a highly tactical race. When people thought I was a favourite last year, it turned out quite differently. I got bronze,” Sum added. “In the 2008 Olympics, Janeth (Jepkosgei) was the favourite, only for Pamela Jelimo to win the gold.
Kenyan long distance Paul Tanui (R) runs alongside his pace-setters at the high altitiude Kipchoge Keino stadium in Eldoret.