Today you are in and then out, some never return while others take ages to make their way back but like that ever-present security officer who stands guard amid the heightened activity at the entrance, Eliud Kipchoge has cemented his place in a team famed for its big turnover of talent.
‘Mr Consistency’ will head for a record breaking fifth successive Worlds in Daegu, South Korea in his favoured men 5000m event.
“I feel good and this is my life and my aim is to maintain it. My life is athletics and I work hard to maintain it,” the mostly reserved Kipchoge opened to reporters on Tuesday in one of his most candid interviews.
“There is no major secret to success in athletics, the secret is the will. If you have the will to do it, then it will be possible.”
Having won the yellow-hued top medal on his debut in 2003, finished fourth in 2005 and claimed silver in 2007 before registering fifth at the last edition two years ago, Kipchoge is itching to make his record setting fifth Worlds a memorable footnote in distance running history.
“Personally I treat myself as a professional. A professional does not gauge people but treats himself as the best. I see myself as the best and I do not want to say such and such names will do this or that.
“According to my training, I’m happy and I’m proud and I can say I think I’m the best. Although everybody is there, I give everybody maximum respect but I’m also the best.”
Kipchoge disclosed his commitment to the cause had led him to fully embark on his career as an individual athlete in contrast to most of his compatriots who chose to join the Defence Forces, Kenya Police, Administration Police and Kenya Prisons Service disciplined institutions.
“There are many ideologies to many athletes. Most of them seek security and have taken jobs for that but I treat this as my profession and for me to be secured, I must be work on it and I’m happy to run as an individual.
“I do not want to seek a job at the forces to secure my life since if I cannot manage my athletics, how will I manage working in the forces?” he rhetorically posed.
He gave the scope of the task at hand for any athlete aspiring to win any of the three medals on offer in Daegu in another demonstration of his excellence.
“We have about 60 countries if we multiply by three entries; we have 180 athletes in 5k and everybody is aiming for those three medals. Every year, my body reacts differently but this year, I’m better off and I will try my best to finish in the top three.”
Turning to his men 5000m team mates in Team Kenya for Daegu, the world junior 3000m champion, Isaiah Kiplangat and 2008 Olympics finalist, Thomas Longosiwa, the 2003 world titleholder elaborated;
“The Kenyan Trials are the second toughest final after the World Championships and the fact that they made it to the team means they should be respected and are capable of doing well.”
“5000m is a complicated event, every year we have the young ones and everybody is coming from nowhere and win a medal. I work very hard to be at the podium but I will accept any outcome.”
In addition to his extended run at the biennial global track and field extravaganza, Kipchoge has also made two consecutive Olympics Games appearances, yielding bronze in Athens 2004 and silver at the 2008 running in Beijing.
Last year, the 5000m medal minting machine was at it again, scooping silver at the Delhi Commonwealth Games.
“I urge our young athletes making their first experiences at the World Championships to treat them as any other race. Even if they earn the gold medal, they should take the achievement in their stride.
“If they go on to break world record or make a lot in future, they should keep these things downstairs, not take them upstairs (pointing to his head) and remain focused,” Kipchoge advised.
He talked of moving to road running after next year’s Olympics and beyond that, remain actively involved in athletics, the sport that has brought him fame, fortune and above all purpose in life.
“I will run my third and last Olympics on track God willing then I will move on the road but it will depend on what happens in the next few years. It’s very hard for me to see myself outside the sport and retirement is not on my mind at the moment.”
Apart from his exploits on track where he has racked an enviable collection of honours at major and circuit competitions, Kipchoge is a cross country runner of repute having won the junior 6km world title at the Lausanne World Cross in 2003.
He made his bow at the Dublin edition a year later by placing fifth and in the senior 12km long race, finished fourth in Brussels (2004) and a place lower in St Galmier-St Denis a year later.