Nobody gave Nicholas Bett a chance in 2013 when he led the Kenya team in the short distance races at the World Championships. He emerged with a great reputation to strike gold.
But that will no longer be the case in Rio as the World 400 metres hurdles champion seeks to clinch both titles and widen the country’s medal haul from over-reliance on the middle and long distance races.
The 24-year-old will be making his maiden show at the Olympics, 60 years since the country made its debut at the Games, reports Xinhua.
But that does not fancy him. After all, last year, out of curiosity, Nicolas did what many athletes have not even dared to dream about when he claimed Kenya’s first ever global medal in the 400m hurdles event.
“I will do wonders in the Olympics, of course, but the two Americans have proved to be tough this season. I have used the Diamond League to gauge myself and in training, I have polished all the grey areas and I am confident and ready for Rio,” he said.
Indeed, that narrative will be hard to sell to his critics if his form at the Diamond League meeting this season is anything to go by. But again the Olympics, like any championships, have room for surprises and it on this basis that Bett is planning to launch his attack as he has downplayed his poor form.
“I am a bit wiser now and I chose my battles safely. I have a very strong start whenever I start a race and I have been trying to change that to see how it suits my training. I can decide to go full blast so I don’ t miss any steps and rely on the strength of my legs, they are all options I can pursue in Rio,” Nicolas said.
Now has never gotten over the dream of winning gold in Beijing World championships. He is still thrilled — if a little surprised — with his gold medal.
“There were a lot of strong runners in the field beside me, but I pushed hard and ran to the end,” Nicolas said.
“I was not expecting to be a gold medallist. Such is the belief I will take with me to Rio. Everyone is there for one purpose to beat the world champion. I will do my battle strategically and hopefully when I navigate to the finals, I will be able to surprise again,” he added.
But Nicolas knows that his venture into the unknown and his victory opened the floodgates for a new stream of Kenyan talent trying their hand at the 400m hurdles.
It’s only a matter of time before another Bett emerges on the world stage and take it by surprise in Rio.