The US distance squads will have a different look in Beijing this summer. For the first time since 2005, Bernard Lagat will not be representing the United States at the World Championships.
Lagat was well positioned with a lap to go in Sunday’s USATF 5,000m final. He seemed poised to launch his signature kick at the top of the backstretch. Instead, the large lead pack pulled away from him and created immediate separation.
“I was trying to go with the guys, but then when Galen started moving with three laps to go, I just felt immediately that I was kicking already… that normally happens at 300m to go, but not three laps to go… I was feeling that I was already almost at the max… from 200m, I couldn’t even move the way I wanted to.”
Lagat revealed that he has been sick recently, skipped a planned race to recover, and has begun to train well again in only the last week.
After his 1500m race in Birmingham on June 7, where he finished 8th in 3:41.87, Lagat flew to Oslo, but was so ill that he cancelled his scheduled appearance there. He came home and took several days off to recover.
“My real good training happened only last week when I did a tempo run under 15:00.” It was his first effective training in almost three weeks, but “…it was already too late.”
He confirmed that he’ll continue his planned summer schedule, including meets in Lucerne and London, with one notable exception.
“I’ll be looking at my visa (for China), which I got two days ago, and thinking that I should have been there.”
When asked about missing his first Worlds since 2005, he said, “It is really, really strange.”
As he realized he would not be traveling to Beijing with his children this summer, he became very emotional.
“I wanted to make it for them.”