Bernard Lagat, the 1,500-meter American record holder and two-time Olympic medalist, tells the IAAF that the 2016 season will be his final campaign on the track.
“After the summer of 2016, I don’t plan to retire, but my track career will be over completely,” Lagat said. “I have to be honest to myself; I’ll be nearly 42 by then so I’ll be very happy to run.”
Lagat has competed at 15 of the last 16 global championships, which includes the 2000 and 2004 Olympics while representing Kenya and the 2008 and 2012 Olympics as an American. Lagat won bronze and silver medals in the 1,500-meters at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics respectively. If he were to finish in the top three of a U.S. Olympic Trials final in Eugene, Ore. in July, he would qualify for his fifth Olympic team.
“I would like to go to this one a lot more,” he said. “This would be my fifth one and it’s also going to be my last one.”
The middle distance specialist has won 11 medals at indoor and outdoor world championships. He did not qualify for last year's U.S. national team for the outdoor world championships in Beijing as he finished 10th in the 5,000-meter final at the U.S.A. Outdoor track and field championships. It was the first global championship that he failed to qualify for since 1999.
“I would have retired at the end of the 2015 season, but something inside was telling me, ‘Why retire one year before the Olympics? You can still do this’” Lagat said. “I’ll be going to the US Trials next year to do my very, very best to make the team. But it’s not a given like before. The US runners have stepped up and they’re highly ranked. They’re fast, young guys, so it’s not easy for me. But if I make that top three, oh my, I’ll be celebrating.”
After turning 40 years old in Dec. 2014, Lagat set world records for the masters age group (over 40 years old) at 3,000-meters in 7:37.92 and the mile in 3:54.91. He holds the American record for 1,500-meters with a 3:29.30 performance in 2005. Lagat is the second fastest man over 1,500-meters with his personal best of 3:26.34 from his days competing for Kenya. Only world record holder Hicham El Guerrouj (3:26.00 and 3:26.12) has run faster.
Lagat is hoping to make the U.S. national team for the IAAF World Indoor Championships, which will be held in Portland in March. He won a silver medal in the 3,000-meter run at the 2014 world championships.
- Christopher Chavez