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Distance Runner Training In Kenya

By BRENT STUBBS Senior Sports Reporter bstubbs@tribunemedia.net IT has been a big adjustment from the Bahamas to Kenya but distance runner Oneil Williams said he's enjoying his stay there as he continues his training in preparation for a shot at qualifying for the London Olympics in August. Williams has spent the past four months training in Kapsabet, Kenya. He left the Bahamas on November 3, 2011, and is expected to return home in time for the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations' Scotiabank National Open Track and Field Championships at Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium June 22-23. "The training in Kenya is on another level and I would recommend any serious distance runner to train here," said Williams when contacted during a break from training yesterday. "I came over here expecting to beat the ladies at first but the first month of training in altitude, I was getting beat by the ladies. I did not see any improvement until the second month when I started beating the ladies. The ladies I train with run half and full marathons at the world class level for example 1:08 and 2:24 respectively and that's beating our national records." When he originally arrived in Kenya, Williams said it was raining just about every day which prevented him from training. But he noted that they are into their sunny season which is more conducive for him to train. "The rain did not stop the training so much that I could not compete. I had several races already which show good improvement," he said. "I ran my first 8k race in a time of 35 minutes because of the altitude and disappointment settled in. My last 8k race was in 26:47 which was a big improvement at altitude. It's really funny because I beat most of my training partners." When he arrived, Williams said his team-mates were not sure if he was an athlete because he was considered to be "fat." But after he started working out and performing up to par with them, he's now being called upon to lead the practice sessions. Williams is currently training with coach Aziz, the former coach of Jelimo Pamela, the current Olympic women's 800 metres champion from Beijing, China. "Everyday I train twice or three times and tend to do a little extra to get a head of the guys," he said. "There is a 40-minute run in the morning before heading to the field at 10(am) and then another 40 in the evening is a typical day. "The morning and evening runs are done on the dirt road which leads into the forest. The speed session is also done on the 400m dirt track." At present, Williams is the only foreigner in their training camp but he noted that, in another town called Iten, there are a number of foreigners training there. "I saw Paula Radcliffe, the women's world record holder in the marathon and Asbel Kiprop, the world and Olympic champion," he said. At present, he is staying with the Kirwa family, but for his last six weeks in Kenya, he intends to train in Iten where the altitude is higher. Kapsabet's altitude is 6,499 compared to Iten's 8,000 feet above sea level. When asked if he misses home, Williams quickly stated: "Well not really. I made a sacrifice which no Bahamian in history has done and that's coming to Kenya to train and also compete with the best distance runners in the world. Honestly, I don't expect any competition at home. The only thing I would have been able to do is run against the clock." When he comes home for the trials, Williams said he hopes that he will be able to get someone to help him through the first 800m in 1:54 so that he can go after the Olympic qualifying time of 3:35.50 in his specialty in the 1,500m. "When I qualify for the 1,500m I will either turn my attention to the 5,000m or the 800m because I would like to hold most of the Bahamian distance records before my career is done," he said. So far, Williams said he's enjoying his stay in Kenya. "I would love for Kenya to be my training ground for the rest of my career and I plan on running for five to six more years," he said. "I like training in Kenya although the language barrier still creates a problem but I am learning Swahili so I will be fine." Williams has expressed his thanks to the majority of the people who have helped to make his trip to Kenya possible. They include his adopted father Dionisio D'Aguilar, his boss at Grant Thornton Paul Gomez, Harrison Petty, his two adopted mothers Dawn Knowles and Kay Smith and his family and friends "who all believe in me."

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