The Kenyan- born American marathoner shares how she is staying strong in hope and in wait of a fall marathon, and how Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge has been her great source of inspiration.
By Evelyn Watta | The Olympic Channel
Winning the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials booked Aliphine Tuliamuk a ticket to the Tokyo 2020 Games.
It meant the realisation of a long-time dream that began in her native village in West Pokot in Northern Kenya, where the track and field athletics discipline was a way of life.
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“Running was something that we had to do to go to school, to go get water, and when we went to herd the animals,” she told Olympic Channel from Sante Fe.
The 31-year-old’s running career was kick-started in 2000 after Tegla Loroupe gifted Tuliamuk her first pair of running shoes for winning a school championship.
In 2005 Tuliamuk, one of 32 siblings from a polygamous family, qualified for the Kenyan Cross Country team alongside Eliud Kipchoge, a memory that continues to inspire her.
“I think very few of us from that 2005 Kenyan cross country are still going strong today and knowing that I have that in common with Eliud, that’s something,” said Tuliamuk who became an American citizen in 2016.
“Eliud is incredible. You see a lot of marathoners come and go. But Eliud has been in the sport for a very, very long time. And he has been very consistent. He’s always improving and continues to get better.”
The win at the Trials in Atlanta on February 29, has been a long time coming for the nine-time American Champion.
She spoke to the Olympic Channel about her Olympics Trials experience, how the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Games has delayed her family plans, and why she is looking at the coming Games as a chance to write a great chapter in her career.
The interview has been edited for clarity and slightly
Olympic Channel [OC]: What’s the difference between your normal day and now, during the Coronavirus pandemic?
Aliphine Tuliamuk [AT]: It hasn’t been too bad for me.
I am lucky that I can still be able to do the things that I usually do. I still can run outside. You know, I can still do my crocheting.
If this was a normal year, I would be doing some serious workouts now. But because we won’t race anytime soon, I am doing easy workouts. So that is the only change that we’ve made so far. Some days I can say I’m going to take a day off, or I’m tired just because there’s no race on the horizon.
OC: How did the Olympic postponement settle with you? Were you disappointed?
AT: I was very disappointed in the beginning. It was hard. But then, you know, once I got over that, a lot of things came into perspective. I realised that my problems were not so big compared to what a lot of people are going through.
But I was torn. I was torn between following my career goals and family. As an athlete, your life revolves around the Olympics. My goal was always to make the Olympic team so bad. – Aliphine Tuliamuk to Olympic Channel.