Daniel Mateiko: Who is little-known Kenyan that floored bigwigs in 10,000m at Prefontaine Classic?

Daniel Mateiko: Who is little-known Kenyan that floored bigwigs in 10,000m at Prefontaine Classic?

Joel Omotto 05:00 - 27.05.2024

Kenyan runner Daniel Mateiko surprised all when he stormed to victory in the 10,000m at the Eugene Diamond League and here is all you need to know about the 26-year-old.

Daniel Mateiko is still basking in the glory of his 10,000m at the Prefontaine Classic on Saturday which secured him an Olympics spot at the expense of some top runners.

The 26-year-old floored his rivals such as Daniel Simiu, Nicholas Kipkorir, Benard Kibet, Edwin Kurgat, Kibiwott Kandie, Stanley Waithaka and Ronald Kwemoi among others.

Mateiko clocked a world leading time of 26:50.81, his personal best, for victory ahead of Kipkorir, 26:50.94 and Kibet (26:51.09) who completed the podium, in what was a fast race that saw the top 13 runners, all from Kenya, clocking their personal bests.

This was perhaps due to the fact that the 10,000m at the Eugene Diamond League was being used as Kenya’s Olympics trials with tickets to the Paris 2024 Games at stake.

Hungry for more

Having stunned the top field, Mateiko said the victory has elevate him to another level and given him a desire to go for more.

“It's all about the confidence that I have, I believe in myself that I can do it that is why I was able to stay with the light until then. We have good coaches and also good management. We were doing a good programme towards this trial,” he said after the race.

“The programme was perfect. I'm so very, very happy for this win. This is my second time competing here on the Eugene track and I'm so very happy. I was not expecting this one despite the fact that I was doing the marathon training.”

Athlete by accident

Mateiko is enjoying a meteoric rise but he would not have been making headlines now were it not for his sister Valentine Mateiko who pushed him to embrace athletics.

“I didn’t think I could run, but she insisted,” Mateiko, who grew up in Mt Elgon, told the Olympic Channel in a recent interview.

He would start training, before getting into competition in the 5,000m and road races. He finished fifth at the Kenyan Championships in 2019 before he won a road race in Eldama Ravine which really motivated him.

With COVID-19 slowing everyone down, he failed to get an Olympics ticket to the delayed Tokyo Games after finishing fifth in 10,000m at the trials but back-to-back third-place finishes at Copenhagen and Valencia half marathons gave him more impetus.

Learning from Kipchoge

Mateiko then made Team Kenya to the 2023 World Championships where he could only manage eighth place but with his desire to do well in road races, he kept faith and continued training at the Global Sports Communication, which has some of the world top runners, such as Eliud Kipchoge.

“I feel I can be a multipurpose runner, doing both road and track, though I feel track is harder. The lapping is quite hard, imagine running 25 laps in the same place,” he explained.

At Global Sports, he is learning from the best in Kipchoge and his coach Patrick Sang.

“I am in the right place, training with my mentor [Kipchoge], he trains me physically but also mentally to be able to deal with the challenges of sport. He teaches me a lot. He teaches me that sport is not about today, but that what you do today will determine what you will be tomorrow and in the future.”

Harsh lessons

Part of the lessons he has had to learn is how to deal with disappointments especially having been thrown in the deep end when he signed up for last year’s Chicago Marathon, which he dropped out after 30km, before heading to London last month where he also failed to finish.

“All these are part of my learning process, the more I fail, the more I am hungry to do well in the future. I still have many more years to come, so all these are stepping stones. Fail now, but tomorrow is another day I have to achieve," he said.

His win in Eugene, and the manner he achieved it, suggests Mateiko is learning quickly and after securing an Olympics spot, there is hope that he could be the man to return the 10,000m Olympics gold that has eluded Kenya since Naftali Temu claimed it at the 1968 Mexico Games.

That would cap a fine year for the 26-year-old, who also won the Ras Al Khaimah half-marathon, while announcing his arrival on the grand stage.

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