Embu’s finest Munene eyes Mo Farah upset in Rio


Embu's finest Munene eyes Mo Farah upset in Rio

Fresh from winning the 2016 Madrid Half Marathon, Morris Munene has set himself the lofty dream of beating double Olympics and world distance track champion, Britain’s Mo Farah at the Rio 2016 Games in the summer.

The 21-year-old who made his competitive debut in at the 2013 Mwea Classic Half Marathon 10 km race where he finished second in 27:57 before finding his way to Japan, declares he is now capable of competing against the top cream of international distance running.

“I have more self-belief now and it’s high time I face off against the best. I would really love to come up against Farah at the coming Olympics,” Munene who is trying to alter the history of the Aembu people from Eastern Kenya by becoming the first world class athlete from the region that is not famed for sporting pedigree told Citizen Digital.

Munene hails from a County with little else to celebrate in sports outside local rallying legend; Patrick Njiru and African women 20km Race walking record holder and champion; Grace Wanjiru.

He was only a high school student first ran in Japan in 2013 where he clocked lifetime bests of 13:47.00 in 5000m and 29:00.05 in 10000m that was ranked the 28th fastest of the year in Shibetsu and Hashioji in seventh and sixth finishes to underline the potential of his talent.

However, he had to take a break from competitive races after finishing 35th at the IAAF Permit/AK National Cross Country Championships at Nairobi’s Uhuru Gardens the following year in order to complete his studies at St Joseph’s Kathuniri in Kianjokoma, Embu County.

His career breakthrough came during the 2015 Lewa Half Marathon where he finished second in 64:30 running under the previous year’s race record of 65:00 and after running 14:00.94 at the July National Championships for a 13th finish in 5000m, he travelled to the UK where he won the Swansea 10K in 28:32 before taking the honours at the Bristol Half Marathon in 62:34 within a week in September.

At the turn of the year, Munene has been in rich form opening 2016 with victory at the January 24 Santa Pola Half in Spain where he stormed to his 61:02 personal best at the distance.

He then ran another lifetime best of 27:27 at the Casablanca where he was beaten to the tape by only a second by Bahraini El Hassan El Abbassi on March 6 before winning the Madrid Half in 62:41 last Sunday.

“I can now compete against against professional athletes, this was something we discussed with my coach,” he affirms as he threw his hat into the ring with luminaries such as World Half Marathon champion Geoffrey Kipsang and silver medallist, Bedan Karoki who want a piece of the London, Moscow and Beijing double winner Farah.

Munene is a member of the Ran Fast Club ran by Coach, Bruce Laati who was part of the Kenyan team for the 2011 Punta Umbria World Cross in Spain alongside another Embu runner making waves in the sport, 28 year-old Pauline Wanjiku Njeru.

Njeru clinched the Kenyan double with Munene by winning the corresponding women’s races in Santa Pola (70:25) and Madrid (72:39) besides running a season’s best of 69:49 for second at the IAAF Gold Laben Paris Half Marathon on March 6. It was the first time in the history of the region two athletes from Embu have scaled the middle step of the podium in international races.

BIO DATA

NAME: MORRIS MUNENE GACHAGA

(5000m, 10,000m, 10km road, half marathon)

Born 7 March 1995, Mbuvori, Manyatta, Embu County.

Height: 155 cm

Weight: 54 kg

Camp: Kigali Teachers Training College, Manyatta.

Coach: Bruce Laati

Manager: Peter De Claire

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