NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 15- The past one month has been monumental for the Manangoi family. Within a space of less than 30 days, they have produced two World Champions, one at the youth level and the most recent from the senior level.
George Manangoi won the junior 1500m title during the IAAF World U18 Championships in Nairobi in July and a month later, his elder brother Elijah won the senior title in London at the IAAF World Championships.
“My family was happy when I won in London. We have a World Youth Champion in the homestead and now we have a World Senior Champion. We are all happy and I know my dad is happy back at home,” Elijah told Capital Sports on Tuesday morning when the team returned from London.
The 23-year old now says a mother of all parties will be held in their hometown of Narok County in the coming days to celebrate the historic achievement, before he swiftly turns his focus back to completing the season.
“We will have a very big occasion back at home in Narok County to celebrate this because it is such a blessing for us. It does not happen often. Personally I am happy and I say thank you to my family and all the Kenyans for watching and supporting us in London. That’s why we have done a very good job,” Manangoi added.
Having suffered the heartbreak of missing out on the Olympic Games final in Rio de Janeiro last year, Manangoi was determined to upgrade the color of his medal from the silver he won in Beijing two years back to gold this time round.
He admitted it was a tough race especially after outkicking his training partner Timothy Cheruiyot to the gold medal, but says all of it was a fruit of hard work put in prior to the championship as well as determination to bring the title home.
“It wasn’t easy because the competition was tough. I preserved my energy well from the heats and the semis and coming to the final I was strong. I am actually short of words to describe the feeling after crossing the line first,” he revealed.
Heading into the championship with the world leading time attained from the Monaco Diamond League, Manangoi was always the man to beat and the only regret he has is the team’s failure to sweep the medals with Asbel Kiprop finishing a distant ninth.
With a world record still on his mind, he will be turning attention to the Zurich leg of the IAAF Diamond League where he hopes to further lower his season’s best time.
“The World Record is still on my mind and my target probably next year is to run the region of 3:25 or 3:26. This season, I will do my best in Zurich and hopefully I can push for a lower time this season. I am on form and I feel I can do better,” he added.
-Kirui the marathon world champion-
Meanwhile, Geoffrey Kirui is still bubbling with happiness after winning Kenya a gold medal in the marathon, saying it was out of his expectation.
“To say the truth I was going there to give my best and try get a medal. I didn’t know I would compete for gold. I am excited that I won and now I hope for more. I will go back to take a rest then sit with the management to decide the next races this year,” Kirui noted.
He timed 2:08.27 to win the gold ahead of Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola while Tanzania’s Alphonce Simbu came in third for bronze. The other Kenyan representatives, Gideon Kipketer and reigning London Marathon champion Daniel Wanjiru finished fifth and eighth respectively.