Bernard Lagat Talks Olympic Trials and Olympics: "I'm More Hungry Now"

May 15, 2012

Day 2 of the USOC Media Summit was highlighted by First Lady Michelle Obama's appearance. For more on here visit click here. For track and field fans Day 2 featured two time World Champion Bernard Lagat and 2008 Olympic Champion LaShawn Merritt addresing the media.

Bernard Lagat, the only distance runner at the USOC Media Summit, said things are different now than when he first started running as the US media now knows who the US distance runners are.

Lagat answered a lot of questions about his diet, doping in the sport, what it means to have represented two countries at the Olympics, Kenya and the US, what it's like training with Abdi Abdirahman, and a lot more. (If you'd like to watch 50 minutes of video with Lagat click here for par 1, and click here for the ten minutes of part 2. If you have limited time watch par II (10 minutes))

We'll have more on Lagat throughout the week but want to feature the highlights and what he said about the Trials and the Olympics and some of his competitors.

First, Bernard is more motivated than ever. "I'm more hungry now. I'm so hungry for something that I don't have. In the Olympics I don't have a gold medal. That's something I have to tell you: 'I'm going for it'"

Lagat mapped out his schedule through the Olympics. He'll only do shorter distance races until the Olympic Trials. First is a mile at the Pre Classic the first weekend in June. Then a week later he'll race the 1500 at the adidas Track Classic in New York. His first 5000m will be the Olympic Trials 5000 semifinal. "I'm going to treat that as a warm-up opener."

Admits Solinsky Almost Cracked Him Last Year
Lagat knows when the real racing is. "On (June) the 28th that's the real race," Lagat said referencing the 5000m final at the Olympic Trials.  "I'm looking at the Trials to be as tough as what (Chris) Solinsky did last year," referring to the US final where Lagat had to run the last 1600 in 3:57.80 to defeat Chris Solinsky who closed in 3:58.57.

Lagat acknowledged Solinsky almost cracked him. "That boy hammered. I give him credit. That boy ran hard. At some point I thought he was going to drop me. But I didn't let that put me down. I was like 'let me fight, let me fight, let me fight hard.'"

One thing Lagat thought would be different this year, with the absence of Solinsky who has announced he is not running the Trials due to injury, is the style of race. "It's going to change a little bit. We don't have a Solinsky this year who is a front runner who is going to be pushing hard.  So we are going to have a situation where everyone is diddling around and then suddenly with one mile to go bam -just go. I will be looking forward to that," he said.

Assuming Lagat makes the team, he then will do one 5000m July 6th in Paris where "I want to go as hard as possible. One heated race before the Championships."

Lagat Behind Michelle Obama

Lagat on Bekele and Farah
When talked turned to the Olympics, the attention centered on Lagat's too main rivals, Mo Farah, who beat him for gold last year, and one of the greatest distance runners of all-time Kenenisa Bekele, who beat him in 2008 and 2009.

When asked whether he thought Bekele was on the decline Lagat said bluntly, "No. I refuse to believe that." He said Bekele may not be in his 12:37 world record form, but that, "He's going to be up there. He's a different kind of guy, a different animal, excuse me, a different kind of guy, I say that (animal) to my close friends."

Talked turned to rival Mo Farah who will be running with the pressure of all of Britain on his shoulders at the Olympics on British soil. When the British press asked Lagat whether they should be worried about Farah's form from the recent indoor season, Lagat said, "Do not worry about Mo Farah."

One worry for Lagat is the British weather. He hates racing on the track in the rain saying, "That's my weakness, I can't run in the rain...especially on the track." To deal with the possibility of rain in London, Lagat who lives in sunny Tuscon, Arizona is going to make a point of training in the rain in his pre-Olympic base of Germany. "So purposely when it rains in Tübingen (Germany) I'm going to go to the track and do a workout."

Training in the rain is a small price for Lagat to pay to get that elusive Olympic gold medal. "It motivates me every day when I wake up. I know this is what I want. I just want to get the gold medal," he said.

We'll have more on Lagat's training this week. In the meantime, if you want to watch the video of Lagat, part 1 is here and part II is here. Part II is what we recommend if you have limited time (10 minutes) as it is more focused on the Trials and the Olympics.

LaShawn Merritt Back As Good as Ever
US 400m star LaShawn Merritt also addressed the media. He's back running great from his drug suspension for using a male enhancement product. Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star Telegram has a great article on Merritt here. Here's a highlight, "When I was at home, looking at a bank account when I wasn't getting paid, it was, 'OK, what am I going to do if I won't be able to run in the Olympics?"

More Day 2: *Track Athletes Front and Center at Michelle Obama's Visit
*Video: Part 1 With Bernard Lagat is here and part II is here (recommended if you have less time)

More Day 1: Team USA Sprint and Field Love: Allyson Felix, Wallace Spearmon, Sanya Richards-Ross, Lashinda Demus, Trey Hardee, Jillian Camarena-Williams, Brittney Reese, Hyleas Fountain Talk Olympics
Allyson Felix Interview
*Wallace Spearmon Video
Sanya Richards Ross Video


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