Sept. 20, 2000
With all the men at work in Sydney during the 2000 Olympic Games, WSU Head Cross Country Coach James Li has his eye on one in particular, former WSU standout Bernard Lagat. Li leaves Saturday after his teams compete in the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle to see Lagat run in the 1,500-meters for the Kenyan National Team.
While at WSU, Lagat earned the honors of NCAA Indoor Track & Field Male Athlete of the Year in 1999, as well as 1999 PAC-10 Men's Track & Field Athlete of the Year. That year, he won the NCAA 5,000-meter title, as well as the 3,000-meter and mile run indoor NCAA titles.
Li will arrive in Sydney about three hours before Lagat's preliminary race Monday morning. The 1,500-meter semifinals will take place Wednesday evening , followed by the final Friday evening.
Lagat, who won the event three consecutive times at the PAC-10 Championships, has the fourth fastest time at 1,500-meters in the world this year. Originally from Kapsabet, Kenya, Lagat will be representing his home country in Sydney.
"For Bernard, winning will be a difficult task, but is definitely not out of the question," Li said.
Li, who will be in Sydney five days, will not be returning to the WSU Cross Country Team until the following Saturday.
"It is difficult to leave the team in Pullman, but I can't pass up this opportunity," Li explained.
The men's and women's cross country teams will be well taken care of during Li's absence, as head track coach Rick Sloan will be filling in.
Other former Cougars competing in Sydney include Mike Kinkade for the U.S. in Baseball, Chantal Brunner for New Zealand in the long jump and Georgette Reed for Canada in the shot put.