Karoki can’t wait to run at second home
Bedan Karoki cannot wait for the Olympics, having been included in Kenya’s marathon team last month.
For Karoki, however, it is if and not when he will be at the Olympics as he is among the two standby runners in team Kenya alongside Tutus Ekiru with defending champion and world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge, world marathon bronze medallist Amos Kipruto and Boston Marathon winner Lawrence Cherono the three assured of their slots in Tokyo.
Even with that in mind, Karoki is still hopeful and if he ends up replacing any of the top trio for whatever reason, he will be running in familiar surroundings.
Record good results
This is because Japan has become his second home, having moved there 13 years ago and by his own admission, he knows the country like the palm of his hand.
“I feel great to make to the team. I have been praying for that chance for a long time. It will be amazing to run in Japan, which has been like my second home. I have had an opportunity to train and run in what I can call advanced facilities in a country that takes sports seriously,” says the runner, who when in Kenya trains in his home county Nyahururu, Eldoret and Ngong.
“Most athletes don’t like to run when the temperatures are mild. For me, that will be a big plus since I usually run in such conditions. Honestly, I hope to take full advantage to record good results and better times,” says the athlete, who has a personal best of 2:07:41 attained at the 2017 London Marathon when he finished third on his debut.
Try to upgrade
Karoki says long-distance running has been a tradition in Japan for Kenyan runners with many companies setting up sports teams and universities offering scholarships. He singles out 1987 World Marathon champion Douglas Wakiihuri and the late Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru as standout beneficiaries from the elaborate programmes in Japan.
Running for DeNA Cooperate team in Tokyo, the 29-year-old, who has two silvers at 2015 World Cross-Country and 2016 World Half Marathon Championships, is hopeful of competing at his third Olympics and win gold in the process.
“I want to run well and try to upgrade my silver medal from Tokyo marathon last year. I am training hard already for this year’s edition set for March 1 as I prepare for the Olympics,” adds Karoki, who represented Kenya at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics.