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Kenya has long been known as a hotbed of developing middle and long-distance runners. They dominate in most distances from 800-metres to the marathon. Currently, both marathon world records are held by people from the Rift Valley, Eliud Kipchoge at 2:01:39 and Brigid Kosgei at 2:14:04.
Kenyan David Rudisha holds the 800m record at 1:40.91. Agnes Tirop and Joyciline Jepkosgei have the women’s only and mixed women’s 10,000m records. The list goes on.
More recently, sprinting has become a thing. Ferdinand Omanyala has emerged as an international threat in the 100m event. He holds the current Kenyan record at 9.77 seconds. Omanyala doesn’t look like the wispy distance runners we have come to expect from the East African country. He is muscular and stocky and powerful.
If Julius Yego ever runs short of food, the gazelles should avoid getting within 100m of him. He also does not resemble the light and flighty Kenyan that we have come to associate with the image of sports from the area. He is big and powerful and he is an Olympic silver medallist and World Championships gold medallist in the javelin throw. Yego holds the Kenyan and African records having tossed the implement 92.72m.
Now cycling? Apparently so
In partnership with multiple Grand-Tour-winning cycling team, INEOS Grenadiers, and double Olympic champion and marathon world-record holder Kipchoge, the teams are working together to create the new academy at the renowned Kaptagat camp — Eliud Kipchoge’s NN Running Team training centre.
Kipchoge said, “I’m proud that we are expanding our Kaptagat-based training camp from a purely athletics-focused training camp towards a wider kind of sports academy. The INEOS Eliud Kipchoge Cycling Academy is a very natural fit with great potential to enable our young talented cyclists to make the next steps towards the top level of cycling.”
The INEOS Eliud Kipchoge Cycling Academy will be headed up by Valentijn Trouw, Performance Director at Global Sports Communication, and the rest of the GSC Team. Trouw and the GSC Team have more than 30 years of experience in identifying and nurturing long-distance running talent in Kenya, creating a pathway for some of the greatest distance runners ever to compete on the world stage. It is the ambition of this project to utilise this knowledge, combined with that of the INEOS Grenadiers cycling team, to create a world-class, sustainable academy in Kenya.
Valentijn Trouw said, “We work with the great potential of East African long-distance runners for over 30 years, and we believe the exceptional local endurance talent combined with the great training environment at Kaptagat will be perfect for developing quality cyclists. Working together with Sir Dave Brailsford, the INEOS Grenadiers Cycling Team, and tapping into the broader INEOS sporting family will bring us the world’s best practice in competitive cycling.”
“I am excited by the opportunity to build a relatively new sport in Kenya, in good harmony and collaboration with the Kenyan Cycling Federation, bringing together our collective knowledge and insights from running and cycling for the benefit of the sport.”
INEOS’ Chairman, Sir Jim Ratcliffe said, “There is such exciting sporting talent, passion and ambition in Africa and at INEOS we want to continue to invest to help realise its maximum potential. I visited the Kaptagat facility in Kenya recently and came away convinced that this partnership can do something truly different and unique for cycling – as well as for aspiring young African athletes.”
INEOS’ Director of Sport and INEOS Grenadiers Team Principal, Sir Dave Brailsford said: “This is a hugely significant and exciting development in world cycling – it has the power to drive lasting change by developing new riders from Africa. We all know the talent is there – we saw it recently when Biniam Girmay made history by winning a stage at the Giro d’Italia, and I saw it first-hand in the inspiring young athletes I met in Kaptagat. Their passion, dedication and love of sport is a perfect fit with the INEOS Grenadiers’ spirit of giving it all to race and be your best. Together I believe we can achieve something unique and important for cycling in Kenya, Africa, and the sport itself.”