Bernard Lagat: Farewell to the Track
“If I had one opportunity to go back, I would have run with Hicham El Guerrouj in the Mile when he was breaking the world record [3:43.13] or when he was running 3:45, 3:44s. I would have loved to have been there."
Running legend Bernard Lagat wrapped up his track career in style with a runner-up finish at the 2016 ISTAF Berlin. He talks career highlights, regrets and future plans.
“I have no regrets,” Bernard Lagat tells SPIKES on the eve of the final track race of his career. The 41-year-old is reflecting on two decades of international running during which he has won a whopping 13 global medals.
Maybe his most impressive feat is he still looks the same as when he started out – some might say even better. “In my university pictures I look way older than I look now, it’s awesome!” he grins.
For the evergreen Lagat, who during the European season lives and trains in Tübingen, Germany, the decision to perform his swansong in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium was a no-brainer. It was on the same iconic blue track that he snared a pair of medals at the 2009 World Championships. First he won 1500m bronze with a great late burst, before dusting himself off for the 5000m where he would celebrate the “second favorite” moment of his career. The final produced one of the most gripping 5000m finishes in history, and Lagat missed gold by just 0.24secs behind another legend Kenenisa Bekele.
He had found himself in similar situation at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Lagat, then representing his native Kenya, challenged Mile titan Hicham El Guerrouj in a dramatic 1500m finish. The pair drained the best from each other as the lead changed several times. Lagat had to settle for second, a mere 0.12 secs behind the world record holder.
But there is no bitterness or disappointment as he recalls those narrow defeats. No regrets, except one.
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