A few of us, remember who came in third in one of the world greatest Olympic competition-The 2012 800M Olympic. It was Timothy Kitum.
I remember him because at 600 metres, he was in the 5th position and there was a gap. With only 150 metres to go, it looks like Amos Nigel (the teenager in front of him )prompted him to act. I loved how Kitum flapped his hands against the air, pushing hard.
I also love his story. Timothy never expected that he’d go past semi-finals. He told the media that the bronze was in fact quite a stretch for him. But him getting to finals, he said, was an impetus to drive him to medal bracket.
Kitum was right to have doubts.
This race was different. I watched it at a small joint called Kenya Chai in my home town in Brooke. For my culture, athletics isn’t just some sport. It’s an event.
This wasn’t just a race. It had five personal bests and national records were set. In fact, it is Olympics moment of the decade.
On why it became Olympic moment of the decade, letsrun.com commented: “The result was far from a surprise as Rudisha’s race was utterly dominant throughout our contest, garnering at least 70 per cent of the vote in every single round.”
I remember being selfish (I’m that patriotic), We wanted Kenya to take one, two in the race. But Amos had a good run. He was a teenager at the time but stepped up powering his country to a silver medal. But I do not think he stepped up, quite like Kitum. I mean yes, Kitum came in third, but the effort he made to move up to take that bronze stand at the medal was quite a thrill.
Kitum in his post-race interview said he was afraid he would have a burnout, because Rudisha, “was a no joke”. It so happened that during their banter at Kenya’s dressing room, Rudisha told Kitum, that he was going to run a fast pace in the first lap.
Team Kenya would later agree that Kitum following Rudisha from the start of the race, would be “suicidal”, Surely, how could anyone tower the great Rudisha. He had the fastest time in the race that year and he was about to shutter the Olympics in London. The power in this mountain of a man and how he injected into the race, is a sight to behold. The strides, the arm swings and the deliberate intent to break the world record.
Yet, every time I watch this race, I cannot help but look at Kitum, with his tiny figure. I watch how he celebrates with his compatriot, and how a man who never expected to go past semi-finals, got a bronze medal in one of the most competitive races in the history of Olympic.
David Cramm, the commentator says, “it’s the greatest Olympic race of all time” and he was right. David Rudisha, made history, but Kitum, in his own way, had an extraordinary fete.
I celebrate him.I celebrate that third guy, because he surprised himself and he was thrilled about it.