British modern pentathlete Jamie Cooke has revealed one of the key ingredients in his rise through the ranks to become a World Champion was running with Kenya’s long distance stars of the future.
The 27-year-old University of Bath-based athlete won World Championships gold with a stunning sprint finish in Mexico City in September after powering past Frenchman Valentin Prades on the line to win by 0.03 seconds.
In order to prepare for the World Championships, Cooke flew to Kenya to run in the gruelling high altitude environment.
After fencing, swimming and showjumping, the laser-run is the final event of the modern pentathlon in which athletes set off in ranking order after the first three events and run four 800m laps, shooting five targets in between.
Cooke says he decided to head out to Kenya after reading a book called ‘The Goldmine Effect: Crack the Secrets of High Performance’ which talks about the small village of Iten in Kenya, which has produced so many world-class runners.
Although the workload was huge and the quality around him ridiculously high, he describes it as one of the best experiences of his life.
He sacrificed the other sports to concentrate for three weeks on his running, covering around 110km a week, twice a day.
“I managed to run most of my sessions with Kenyan groups, which were really tough. They are unbelievable and seem to glide over the ground,” he said.
“My running has definitely improved and, alongside that, my confidence in myself. When I stand on the start line it’s a great feeling knowing I have trained incredibly hard and I feel ready.”