Wilson Kipketer, the World Champion over 800m in 1997 and 1999 and world record holder over the same distance, took part today in the Seminar organised by the International Athletic Foundation on the theme "Organisational Techniques of Top-Level, One-Day Athletics Meetings". Kipketer, a native of Kenya who became a Danish citizen in 1998, spoke on the subject of commercial pressures and obligations for the athletes of today.
Kipketer revealed how he had been subjected to this pressure in the 1998 season, when he was recovering from a career-threatening attack of malaria. "I really had to get back into the public eye: this pushed me to do things that were too much for my physical condition and form at that time," said the world record holder. "But in 1999, I focused on the Golden League and the World Championships. I didn’t need to work on restoring my image, just concentrate on winning: this time there was no commercial pressure on me. The only pressure was competition and that is normal when you are an athlete."
After the Seminar, Kipketer also spoke of his plans for the future: next year he will compete in a number of indoor meetings, probably including the European Championships in Belgium at the end of February. During the summer season he will concentrate on the meetings of the Golden League and his preparations for the Olympics.
"Having the Olympics at the end of September is a problem. My idea is to reach peak form around early July and try to stay in top shape until the end of September. I know that this will be difficult but for me it is easier than trying to peak two or three times in the year. Anyway, the same problem faces everyone who will compete in Sydney."
The World Champion also spoke of Noah Ngeny, the young Kenyan phenomenon, neo-world reord holder in the 1000m, who Hicham El Guerrouj (MAR) had advised to concentrate in the future on the 800m rather than the 1500. "I don’t know whether El Guerrouj is right or not. In any event, I think that after the results that Noah has achieved in the 1500, that is really the way for him to go. To compete in the 800 he would have to change his training programme and there is no guarantee that he will get the same results. On the other hand, I have no doubts that Ngeny will be able, maybe very soon, to run the 1500 in less than 3:26.00."
Wilson Kipketer will soon be coming back to Portugal, to Albufeira, for training. Then he will continue his programme in Boulouris, South of France, followed by altitude training in a location that has yet to be decided.