These "whatever happened to..." questions got me thinking. Does anyone have any clue why Daniel Komen went so quickly (it seems) from fabulous to really awful (but STILL on the circuit). After his great seasons of '96 and '97, he started running the 1500 (to duck Geb, we all presumed). He ran one or two sub-3:30s, but then just got lousy. Is he just not training at all? How can a 7:20 guy--and history's only sub-8 minute 2 miler (twice)--be so mediocre? Is there some news we've (I've) missed?
Thanks for asking the question--I've wondered the same thing...could it be pushing too hard too early with "burnout" resulting? Or is it persistent injury? These are the most likely culprits...hope somebody who knows something can enlighten us.
A fast 10,000 last year? By American standards, maybe; by Kenyan standards, I think not. Komen ran 27:38.32 at last year's Brussels meet for 12th (!!) place. I'm sorry, but that is NOT impressive in any way. A few years ago, we would have expected him to run 26:30. My point in raising this question in the first place was simply to find out how such an astonishing talent went sour (seemingly) so quickly. Granted, it is far easier to get the top than to stay there, but Komen's decline is still baffling to me. He's 3 years young than Gebrselassie who, obviously, remains very competitive on the circuit. I have to say that, having seen Komen run many of his best races in the 1996-2000 period, I never once got the feeling that he was actually enjoying it--even when he was winning big competitions (for example, '96 Zurich) or setting world records (Brussels '97). I honestly wonder if he's even bothering to train now. I've not heard any reports at all of him being injured...
I also have been wondering about the sublime Komen of old,
Man runs well, brilliantly well in late 90's when world records were pretty prolific to be fair.
Then rather suddenly disappears, not injured, still running in big races, just can't get back to that level.
Although not allowed to be discussed there is another reason that comes to mind.
Yes, of course there's another reason come to mind: M-O-N-E-Y! It's well known (going back far beyond the legit-pro side of the sport) that the Kenyans are largely in it for the money. And why shouldn't they be? A successful season or two on the Circuit and they can buy a herd of cattle and become gentlemen farmers the rest of their lives.
To second gh, look at the example of Richard Chelimo, the Kenyan who broke Barrios' 10k record. Once he made his money, he started up in business back home, drives a BMW (I believe), and weighs at least 30 pounds more than he did when competing.
That kind of killer training is not for everyone and not always for a long time.
good points about careers that become "failures" or "disappointing."
Be it Kenyans, Americans, or whatever, these are human beings we are talking about, not automotons. Any and all athletes can have one, two or more numerous and very valid reasons, from their personal perspectives, to either gear down or to gear out.
The bottom line, obviously, is that it IS human beings we're talking about--not just statistic-producing robots. Desire and pleasure play a major part in whole process. Some athletes simply enjoy it more than others. Gebrselassie has always seemed to revel in it all--even while, of course, being a consummate professional. As I said, I never got the feeling that DK enjoyed much of anything about the sport. The M-O-N-E-Y issue is, of course, central. But how much--really--does Brussels pay a far-gone "name" to get 12th?
I actually have great respect for the guys that (seemingly) quit cold turkey--they cash in their chips and go home, financially (I would expect) set for life. Take William Sigei, for example: I never got the feeling that he hung around too many seasons just to cash the ever-shrinking appearance checks. And we shouldn't be surprised if the guys who walk away from it gain 30 lbs in a few years. American joggers train because they want to be fit. At least some great (and not only African) runners get fit only because they want to compete--a different thing entirely. American joggers run because its a break from "real life." For today's pro, running IS "real life," for better or worse.
A reminder, I guess, that what CAN'T be timed & measured is probably more significant--and certainly far more mysterious--than what can be.
> And we
>shouldn't be surprised if the guys who walk away
>from it gain 30 lbs in a few years. American
>joggers train because they want to be fit. At
>least some great (and not only African) runners
>get fit only because they want to compete--a
>different thing entirely.
This is exactly right. The other difference to note is that in the US it is socially desirable to be thin. Among many people in Kenya, it is socially desirable to be heavy. To say, for example, "Your baby is very fat!" is a complement among many groups in Kenya. Only those who are well-off can afford to be heavy.
GH's point is well taken. Note the latest steeplechase star from Qatar. If he is paid $1000 per month for say 60 years, the Qataris have bought themselves a superstar for $720,000 (allowing for inflation making this sum "smaller"). Cheap for oil money being burnt. But seriously 2 miles in less than 8 minutes remains truly awesome - or is his 3K record even better than the 2 miles? And if the latter is true, does El G stand a chance of moving into unknown territory along with Komen in the years ahead?