NAIROBI, Kenya, September 12- In a season where he has fulfilled his immense potential as a junior by collecting the World Indoors, Commonwealth Games, African and Diamond League titles, Caleb Ndiku Mwangangi of Kenya is aiming to sign off in resounding fashion at the IAAF Continental Championships this weekend in Morocco.
The 21-year-old, who has added glitz not normally associated with talented distance runners from the East African nation, will be competing for Africa in the event that pits continents against each other.
The World Cross junior 8km and World Juniors 1500m gold medallist from 2010 has more than compensated for his three-year absence from the senior Kenyan team this year by collecting the 3000m World Indoor and 5000m crowns at both the Commonwealth and African championships to make him rank favourite in the Marrakech Continental showdown.
“This year I have been so successful due to my training. Everything was excellent and I had no problem, no injuries and that’s why I have done so well,” Mwangangi said.
“I believe in myself, and am different from other Kenyan athletes. They are always calm but I’m not so. I always want to do something on the track to remind them that I’m out there,” he explained his explosion in 2014 that has captivated the globe.
To complete the picture, Mwangangi has emerged as a model modern athlete with colorful antics on the track and a huge presence on social media that has earned him a huge following home and abroad.
During the Poland World Indoors in March, he turned up for the semifinals of his 3000m spotting a woolly hat and after winning the race, returned for the final with his hair dyed red where a swift turn of pace over the last 500m carried him to the title in 7:54.94.
“Red means danger and I used it as a warning to all my competitors that I was coming to win,” he explained the flamboyant hair-do.
At the summer Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Mwangangi dyed his hair gold ahead of the 5000m final and the bold announcement of intent was rewarded when he out-kicked compatriot and rival, Isaiah Kiplangat Koech, to clinch gold in 13:12.07.
“Yes, the gold was mine. That is why my hair was in the color. I am very happy after winning this gold. It was a technical race and I knew that I was very strong in the last kick and would not waste my energy. So I waited to for them to expend energy before sprinting away,”he told.
In his moment of triumph, he ensured the cameras stayed trained on him when he broke into a riveting dance that lifted the chill out of Hamden Park in Glasgow. But, as he explained, it was not a celebratory routine but rather a tribute.
“That dance was a tribute to my late friend Peter Matheka who passed away. He was a good friend of mine and I did that for him,” he added in reference to the former Youth Olympics Games champion who passed on in a road accident just over two months ago.
A week later, he was in Marrakech for the African showpiece and he claimed his second title in a week winning in 13:34.27 with Koech again coming in second as he secured his place in the African team for the Continental Cup at the same Moroccan resort city.
A personal best in 5000m (12:59.17) on Aug. 27 followed and in the first leg of the Diamond league final in Brussels, Mwangangi sprinted to victory to win the Diamond Race trophy for the first time to leave the Continental assault the last piece in completing a five-star jigsaw.