Lone-wolf Dutch marathoner Nageeye out to bite in Rio


Dutch Olympics marathon hopeful Abdi Nageeye preparing for a training run with his Global Camp ...
Dutch Olympics marathon hopeful Abdi Nageeye preparing for a training run with his Global Camp mates in Kaptagat. PHOTO/Charity Wanja

With East Africans once again expected to dominate the battle for medals during the men’s marathon at Rio 2016 Olympics, Dutch hopeful Abdi Nageeye is simply preparing to go out and make an impression as the first European across the line.

The men’s marathon will bring down curtains to the Brazil Summer Games on August 21 and the only flag-bearer for the Dutch team has been preparing for his biggest race at the high altitude Global Sports camp in Kaptagat, some 25km from Eldoret alongside distance running royalty.

He has been rubbing shoulders with Uganda Olympics gold winner, Stephen Kiprotich and the runaway favourite to dethrone him, two-time London winner, Eliud Kipchoge, 2012 Boston titleholder; Wesley Korir and Kenya’s reserve, Bernard Kipyego at the humble camp that has bred champions over the years.

The 27 year-old Nageeye is targeting to be inside the top 10 in Rio after qualifying for the Olympics when he clocked a personal best of 2:10.24 at the 2015 Amsterdam Marathon that was also the qualifier for the Dutch.

That made him the seventh fastest Dutchman in history and the Somali-born athlete is delighted at making his Olympics debut.

“Being an immigrant, it was a very special moment for me. Hence I have to be strategic if I want to finish among top eight.  I truly wish the Dutch could bend the rules a bit. Maybe my friend could have been with me since he missed the cut narrowly.

“I still feel they could have considered him since the weather was not very favourable with the rains,” he told.

In a race won by Kipyego in 2:06:19, Nageeye was the first home runner across the line in eighth with his second and third placed compatriots; Michel Butter (2:11:08) and Khalid Choukoud (2:11:34) came in 11th and 14th overall.

Although Butter and Choukoud beat the 2:19:00 Olympics standard, the Royal Dutch Athletics Federation ruled to enter only Nageeye for the Games.

Despite training with the best, Nageeye admits that he feels lonely being the only Dutchman in the marathon and has to make it or break it when he lines at the start for the pride of his nation.

 

“That’s the reason why I chose Kenya because I get the opportunity to train alongside top athletes. It’s a good experience to train with Kiprotich who wants to defend his Olympics title, Kipchoge, Korir and even my good friend Kamworor,” Nageeye, who has struck a close bond with two-time World Half and Beijing 2015 World 10000m silver medallist, Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor at Global explained.

The seventh born in a family of 13 was crowned the Dutch champion at the 2015 Rotterdam Marathon after finishing ninth in 2:12:33.

In a race dominated by East Africans Ethiopia’s Abera Kuma took the honours in 2:06:47 ahead of Kenyan pair of Mark Kiptoo and Bernard Koech who filled the podium in 2:07:21 and 2:08:02.

The former footballer took running seriously in 2007 following an advice from a friend trying his hand or rather, legs in track events from 1500m, 3000m, 5000m and 10000m with limited success before venturing to road races and eventually, the ultimate distance.

“I enjoyed playing football as a hobby and had my friend not convinced me to start running may be I would be a professional footballer. When I started running, I tried various events as I was still finding myself. Then after some hustle I discovered that I was faster on the road than on the track.

“That’s how my love for the road began and I wanted to make something better out of myself,” the sociable athlete who looks at ease at his modest surroundings far removed to the opulence of his land of origin told with a radiant smile.

Nageeye has ran six marathon with best finish recorded at the 2014 Enschede Marathon where he won bronze in 2:11:33 and finished ninth at this year’s Boston Marathon in 2:12.33 on his World Marathon Majors debut.

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Story By Charity Wanja
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