Athletics Athletics

Kitum plots to tail Rudisha to the podium


NAIROBI, Kenya, July 26- His ascendancy to the top of men’s 800m running has smirked of an express train with faulty brakes but that does not faze Timothy Kitum.

In fact, his meteoric rise within a year has seen Kitum win World Youth bronze medal, Commonwealth Youth gold as well as silver at the recent World Juniors besides punching his ticket for the London Olympics.

The 17-year-old believes he would be at a higher pedestal had he not committed what he termed “mistakes” at the Istanbul World Indoors in March as well as the Barcelona World Juniors.

“In Istanbul, I ran from behind and Mohammed Aman (Ethiopia) and Andrew Osagie (Britain) held the inside lane and I could not make the final.”

“I made the same mistake in Barcelona where I let Nijel Amos (Botswana) go from 300m. At the semis, he appeared injured and his sprint caught me by surprise but at least I got the silver. I’m sorry for not bringing my country the medals I wished to have won,” Kitum detailed at the Team Kenya camp for London in Nairobi upon returning from Spain’s World Juniors.

Having run his personal best, a resounding 1:43.94 effort to follow world record holder, David Rudisha home at the Kenyan Olympic Trials on June 23, Kitum earned his place at the biggest sporting carnival and unlike Istanbul and Barcelona, the teenager is promising to hold nothing back from his tank.

“I promise Kenyans I will come with a medal and Rudisha being a front runner, anyone near him will get something but that is only possible if I make the final. This sport has taken me to places and events I never thought I could go so, this is one chance I intend to take.”

“I will not spare anything. I will go flat out since I would rather not return home with nothing knowing I still had strength like it happened in Spain. Amos is a strong runner but I believe I was stronger,” the Commonwealth Youth champion pledged.

His rise to the top tier of 800m running could not have happened had his secondary school teacher at Marakwet Boys High School, Christopher Kimaiyo, not forced the then captain of the institution’s volleyball team to start running.

“One day, he came and pulled me out of the court where I was playing as a spiker. He convinced me that I could run but at first, it was difficult to train,” Kitum, whose given family name means “someone born when there is a ceremony” in his local Kalenjin dialect disclosed.

That was in 2009 and a year later, Kitum attempted but failed to make the Kenyan team for the Bydgoszcz World Juniors in Poland having taken up the 400m and 800m double at the National Secondary School finals in the coastal city of Mombasa.

“I do not know what happened, we all fell sick and could not run at the Trials, perhaps it was the (saline) water, to date, I do not know what happened,” he added.

At the end of the year, Kitum joined the famed Brother Colm O’Connell camp at St. Patrick’s High School, Iten for training during the school holidays where he mingled with among others, Rudisha.

On his final year at Marakwet Boys in 2011, the rapidly progressing runner finally launched his international running career when from the blue; he raced 1:45.8 to win the Kenyan Trials for the Lille World Youth Championships.

“I was very excited since having just started running, I found myself on the national team. At first, I could not believe it but it had come true,” he recalled.

Having won his heat and finished second in the semis in France, Kitum lined-up for the medal race on 9 July but just like the other six finalists, he had no answer to the staggering 1:44.08 World Youth record unleashed by compatriot Leonard Konsecha, his bridesmaid at the Nairobi Trials.

Kitum was rewarded with a then career best and first sub 1:45 performance of 1:44.98 for bronze but in the Isle of Man Commonwealth Youth Games, he turned tables on Konsencha when he led him to line for gold in 1:49.32 against 1:50.62.

At the turn of 2012 Kitum joined the Golazo Sports management and shifted his training base from Iten to the Central Kenya town of Nyeri where he linked with his present coach Sammy Macharia.