By Alex Roberts
It is because I’m an angry fucker; who is currently sitting angry in the early hours of the pre-dawn shouting into the void of the internet, that I pose this angry question: why is nobody giving Brigid Kosgei any love?
Who you might ask? Fuck you, that’s who, if you haven’t heard. Kosgei is one of Kenya’s leading long distance runners, who set the bar for excellence at a high water mark this past Sunday, October 13th, at the Chicago marathon when she absolutely obliterated the previous World Record for marathon time.
When I say that there was an obliteration, I mean that she took the old record out behind a barn and put it out of its misery; her new record stands at two hours, fourteen minutes and four seconds.
For a point of reference, that new time is a full 81 seconds faster than the old record (for those of you yawning desperately to keep your head up at work, that’s an average of more than two seconds faster per mile than the previous fastest time).
Great news right? Yeah, exactly; and where is it being talked about? Kosgei has managed to pull something incredible from her own ability and will, and in return she’s a passing after thought in the weekend of Kipchoge (she set the record on Sunday, he broke the two hour marathon point on Saturday).
Why is she simply a blip on the radar- the narrative in the media seems to largely have been ‘and isn’t that also nice’; a dismissive tone for something of this stature. For her to have set the record in the same reason as Kipchoge’s leap forward should be all the more reason for it to be highly vaunted.
That is if you expect consistency towards African athletes from the Western media. If there was an iota of regularity- the myriad of pieces that dropped on Sunday dismissing Kipchoge would have sung the praises of Kosgei; ‘after all’, the pieces cried, ‘Kipchoge did it outside of competition, with a laser truck and pace runners! Look at his magic Nike’s!’
Kosgei didn’t. She destroyed the mark during a competition, one of the most highly regarded in the world.
Not to bitch and moan- but if everyone wanted to ‘put Kipchoge’s achievement in its place’ as seemed to be the case by many a talking head; then why not cross reference with Kosgei’s achievement?
This is to take nothing away from Kipchoge, we shall not be put into that dead end alley of moronic though, but Kosgei beat the mark by 81 seconds; whereas Kipchoge ‘only’ beat his old record (another unofficial time, whatever that means) by 45 seconds.
It grows old and tired to see such hypocrisy, especially towards women’s athletics, which continue to get the short end of the deal, no matter the quality, no matter the achievement.
In the same weekend Kipchoge was rightfully touted as a national hero in Kenya; Kosgei was an afterthought, an ‘also ran’, and frankly, that’s utterly shameful.
This past weekend was an incredible precedent for a 48 hour period for Kenyan sport; two world records broken on Western soil, races run by the feet of Kenyans both. They should both be given crowns- but in reality one has quickly been marked with an asterisk and the other seemed to fall from the headlines within minutes of the stories about her going up. No one even met her at the finish line to congratulate her.
The ‘look what she also did’ narrative around Kosgei is complete bullshit; the new Queen of the marathon deserves infinitely better.