The idea surfaced one day at practice several weeks back.
Iowa State assistant track coach Jeremy Sudbury was kidding Edward Kemboi about running both the 800 and 1,000 meters at the upcoming Big 12 Track & Field Championship.
He was “kidding” because runners don’t do that “double”. The events run back-to-back, less than 20 minutes between starts. The recovery time for the 1,000 isn’t sufficient to compete successfully in the 800, too.
Sudbury hinted that the “1,000-800 double” and running a leg on the distance medley relay might be do-able.
Kemboi liked the idea. And, Kemboi delivered.
The junior became the first runner in Big Eight / Big 12 Championship history to win gold medals in each event. He ran the 1,000 in 2:26.41 and followed that with a 1:50.67 clocking in the 800.
Iowa State Director of Track & Field Martin Smith relayed, after the sweep, a conversation between Kemboi and Sudbury.
“Coach Sudbury and Ed were completely confident,” Smith said. “They never doubted. He told Coach (Sudbury) ‘I have it in the bag. Don’t sweat it, coach. Enjoy it!”
It was certainly enjoyable as well as head-turning in the track world. People just don’t attempt the 1,000-800 double.
Part of the comfort in attacking the task was Kemboi’s calmness about the challenge.
“(I told myself) if I won the 1000 – no matter who you are – I’m going to take the 800 because it’s my race,” Kemboi said. “It’s also my track. I don’t want to let someone beat me on my track and in my race.”