This is the answer for yyy : don’t do the mistake, very common indeed, that an athlete running fast must be doped.
Nicholas was a real phenomen, under aerobic point of view.
His consumption of fuel for running fast was very little, and he could run very fast with little training.
In 2003 he ran Lisbon HM in 60:31 with ridiculous training, and continuing this ridiculous training (I was his coach, but I supposed he was very much weaker than the truth, because rarely I had the opportunity to work with him directly), he ran 28:19 in 10000m in Hengelo.
Immediately after Hengelo, I moved with all the group in Davos (1600m of altitude in Switzerland), because we were offered to stay for free for 3 weeks with all the athletes (Nicholas, James Kwalia, Stephen Cherono, Augustine Choge, Moses Mosop, Albert Cheruiyot, Dorcus Inzikuru, Rita Jeptoo, Mark Bett, John Korir and Paul Kosgei) if these athletes could compete, without appearance, in the 6 km race by night, which was a classic in that period.
So, we went there (adding to my group also Wilfred Bungei), and for the first time I had the opportunity to learn DIRECTLY the attitudes of the athletes.
So, I discovered Nicholas was really fast (he ran 22.8 in the last 200m of 4 sets of 600/500/400/300/200m), very much faster of all the other athletes with me.
The big question was : if you are so fast, while when there are 6 athletes together at the bell, your final position is number 6, or maximally 5 ? And he told me : I know I’m fast, but I’m fast only if I’m in front.
I spent hours for changing his mind, and the test was in Zurich. He ran 5000m in 13’01”, and was 7th at the bell, and 2nd at the end, only 20cm behind John Kibowen.
We were in St. Moritz after Davos. The weather was wonderful, and all the group improved a lot. With him, after Zurich, I decided to prepare in specific way 10000m for Brussels.
He didn’t defeat Haile because of lack of experience, attacking in the last turn, for a final 600m in 1’23”, but lost for 20cm.
I can say not only he was completely clean, but never he had any idea about asking some support (same like Shaheen).
I know very well everything, because we shared the same apartment with all the guys, so nobody went to buy something for himself.
That summer, it was the best summer of my career as coach, looking at the workouts of the athletes.
Why Nicholas was not able to continue this escalation ? He was not lucky. He lost the most part of 2004, because in October 2003 went to Bahrein.
When in December I asked Bahrein Federation to give me the new name of Nicholas (at that time was a must to change their name with an Arab name), they sent me the copy of his new Passport, where his year of born was 1987 (instead 1983). The same happened with James Kwalia (1988 instead 1984).
Immediately I sent a mail to Bahrein Federation asking WHY they changed, and they answered : “so they can compete in World Juniores”.
My reaction was to send another mail to Bahrein, where I explained “never I can collaborate with a Federation of cheaters”, and to have a meeting with the athletes, where I told them “if you want to go with cheaters, you need to find another coach, because I can’t accept a situation like this”.
At the end, they refused to change citizenship, remaining Kenyan till Olympic Games (Nicholas tried, with only two months of preparation, to be selected for 10000m, but only was able running 27’17” in Scandinavia).
Finally, in October 2004 (after OG), he went Qatar, joining Shaheen and Ahmed Hassan, already there.
He had a very good preparation during winter 2004-2005.
Before WCh of Helsinki, we had all the preparation in Kenya, and he was always better than Mosop, and better than in 2003.
I really was confident in the possibility of the gold medal in Helsinki.
During the race, with 4 laps to go, he was spiked near the tendon. He finished jogging, with a lot of blood, again in 27’17”, while Moses Mosop won bronze medal.
The doctor of WCh closed the big and deep cut with 16 staples, and gave him a plastic for 15 days.
Nicholas walked using crouches, never could put his foot on the ground.
We went back St. Moritz, for the last part of the season.
After 15 days, a doctor in St. Moritz removed the plastic and the staples, and Nicholas started to try to walk, only a little, with some pain.
After 4 days walking (may be 30’ per day) he came to me, asking to compete in 10000m in Brussels. I told him he was crazy, but he insisted, so I told him “ok, but we need to see if you can run, so tomorrow you try some 1000m with training shoes, and after we decide”.
He started running 3’08”, then 3’03”, than under 3’, for finishing 12 x 1000m with the last in 2’42”. This was 3 days before Brussels !
I could not refuse his participation, but I told him “Nicholas, Bekele wants to try the WR, please, stay in the group, you can’t run fast after what happened”. He promised “don’t worry, I will use my brain”.
What did happen in the race ? Bekele followed the rabbit in 13’10” the first 5 km, and who was with him ? Sammy Wanjiru and Nicholas Kemboi, while the group went in 13’28” !
Nicholas remained with Kenenisa till 7 kms, after started to run pressing his liver because, of course, was not prepared.
He finished practically jogging, in… 26’51” ! This was, in my opinion, the most amazing race of his career.
Why after Brussels he was no more able to run so fast ?
Because the injury provoked a change in his mechanical action, obliging to use his right foot like a “duck”, without any reactivity, and in external direction. So, he lost all his biomechanical qualities, maintaining the aerobic quality, but practically became like a car with an amazing engine, but with the tyres without pressure.
The moral is : for speaking about somebody, you need to know all the story !