– There are athletes who are competitors, also-rans, contenders,
ham-n-eggers, winners, whiners, losers and champions, but it’s the
history-making stars in all sports that we never forget. American
middle-distance runner Bernard Lagat belongs in that exclusive
A native of Kenya, Lagat has been making history his entire
career, and has set a new standard for American runners since becoming
a U.S. citizen in 2004. Coming up February 28-March 1 in Boston, fans
will be treated to witnessing Lagat as he competes in his first USA
Indoor Championships, held at the Reggie Lewis Center at Roxbury
Winning medals at championship events is one of the
prerequisites for any aspiring track athlete wanting to be considered
an all-time great. A two-time Olympic medalist, Lagat became the first
man in history to win gold medals in the men’s 1,500m and 5,000 meters
at a World Outdoor Championship in 2007 in Osaka, Japan, in the first
major championship in which he ran as an American. In the 1,500m final,
Lagat charged to the front and crossed the finish line first in 3
minutes 34.77 seconds in winning Team USA’s first Olympic or World
Championships 1,500m gold medal since 1908, when Hall of Famer Mel
Sheppard won the Olympic title.
In the Osaka 5,000m final, Lagat used his devastating
finishing kick to sprint past the field to win in 13:45.87 in becoming
the first American to win a World Championship medal of any kind at
“The double means a lot to me,” Lagat said when his work in
Osaka was finished. “I’m the first one to accomplish the double, and I
feel I’m going to set an example for the young ones. There will be
other kids in America who will do what Bernard Lagat did in 2007, no
matter how long it will take.”
Lagat also made history in becoming the first man to win both the 1,500m and 5,000m at a USA Outdoor Championships, in 2006.
Earning immortal status in the world of track and field may
also be accomplished by rewriting the record books, and Lagat has
become an accomplished author in the U.S. He began his one-man assault
on American records by setting the standards in two events in the same
race at the 2005 Tyson Invitational indoor meet in Fayetteville, Ark.
Lagat set the U.S. Indoor record in the 1,500m (3:33.34) en route to
winning the mile in 3:49.89, which also became the American record.
Elsewhere indoors, Lagat set the U.S. 3,000m record of 7:32.43 in
Birmingham, England in 2007. He invaded the U.S. outdoor record book on
August 28, 2005 in Rieti, Italy, when he finished the 1,500 meters in 3
minutes 29.30 seconds, breaking the longstanding U.S. record of 3:29.77
set by Sydney Maree in 1985.
Lagat has found a comfy home away from home at the world’s
most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, in New York City. Lagat
entered the 2009 Millrose Games looking for his seventh career win in
the prestigious Wanamaker Mile, which would equal the all-time
Wanamaker win total first established by Ireland’s legendary “Chairman
of the Boards,” Eamonn Coghlan. Lagat held the lead with 1 å_ laps to
go when New Zealand standout and Olympic bronze medalist Nick Willis
passed Lagat and took the lead. Just after the bell lap Lagat retook
the lead and held on for the win in 3:58.44.
“This is not another race for me. This race means a lot,”
Lagat said following his Wanamaker win. “I have a lot of respect for
Eamonn Coghlan. Today, winning seven like him means a lot to me. He is
a man who was rooting for me today.”
Lagat will attempt to win his eighth consecutive Wanamaker Mile in New York next year.
A devoted family man, Lagat is frequently seen with his
three-year old son Miika on his lap when he speaks with the media.
Miika, who’s sister Gianna was born November 2, 2008, was granted a
lesson in the family business when he joined his father for a cool down
jog in the bowels of Madison Square Garden following dad’s post-race
Millrose press conference. But before Miika begins his own running
career and takes over as chief operating officer of the Lagat family
legacy, his father has more history to write.
Look for the next chapter to be penned at the 2009 USA
Indoor Track & Field Championships. It will be Lagat’s first ever
appearance at a USA Indoor Championships, and with his uncanny knack
for achieving greatness at every turn, when the men’s 1,500 meters toes
the line in Boston be sure to keep your eyes on Lagat and the clock.
It could be history in the making.
For more information about the USA
Indoor Track & Field Championships or to purchase tickets, log onto
www.visachampionshipseries.com or www.usatf.org. For questions
regarding tickets, please call (317) 713-4680. USATF welcomes you to
purchase tickets with your Visa Card. Visa is the only credit card
accepted by USATF.
Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and
field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States.
USATF encompasses the world’s oldest organized sports, some of the
most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the #1 high school and
junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult
runners in the United States.
For more information on USATF, visit www.usatf.org