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Page last updated at 19:03 GMT, Monday, 26 July 2010 20:03 UK
Kenyan siblings in pursuit of 2012 gold


Moses Masai on his heroes and the qualities a successful athlete needs

By Kevin Mwachiro
BBC Nairobi correspondent

I am rarely starstruck, so I was rather surprised that I seemed to be in absolute awe when I met the Masai siblings, Linet and Moses.

Let me tell you about Linet first. We had spoken on the phone a number of times and the 10,000m runner came across as very soft-spoken and gave me the impression that she was not comfortable having conversations over the phone.

Meeting her in person, her genteel and shy personality is as obvious as her lithe structure. Added to that, she has striking facial features and a smile that wins gold any day.

As I watched her train, I was struck by the scale of her achievements over her short running career. I was watching a world champion at work!

Region: Mt. Elgon, Kenya
Born: 1989 and 1986
Discipline: Athletics
Career highlights: Linet - Gold medal, 10,000m, 2009 World Championships
Moses - Bronze medal, 10,000m, 2009 World Championships

Moses Masai, the eldest of the siblings, is as humble as his sister. I noticed the 5,000m and 10,000 runner held a strong influence over the team that trained with him.

Our initial meeting with Moses took place at 6am and the normal sleepy town of Iten was already busy with runners preparing for the first training session of the day.

There are runners who compete at different levels, locally and internationally, but there is sense of camaraderie that prevails over this merry bunch of athletes.

Moses looked slightly older than his 24 years and it was only later when I realised that as a first-born son from a traditional Kenyan family, he shouldered a lot of responsibility.

Even as I witnessed Moses and Linet interact, you could tell that Linet holds her brother in high esteem, although she is the more successful and more famous of the two siblings.

Moses is the more confident and more outspoken of the two but he beams with pride when discussing his younger sister's achievements.

Linet and Moses Masai
Linet and Moses Masai shake hands after winning the 2009 women’s and men’s 'Dam tot Damloop' race in Zaandam, the Netherlands

Interviewing him was easy and as a running enthusiast, I found that we had much to talk about. I wanted tips from him on how to improve my running time and technique.

The highlight of my time with Moses was when he let me touch the bronze medal that he received during the 2009 World Athletics Championship in Berlin.

I wanted to hear all about how it felt to be at the championships, inwardly wishing that I had been a bit more disciplined and determined with my own running when I was younger.

Linet Masai
BBC World Class is a project to unite schools around the world through World Olympic Dreams

Moses's words rang true when he mentioned that the secret behind most Kenyan runners is the hunger to succeed and to improve their economic lot.

To paraphrase his words, "rich kids can't run, because they have alternatives and training to be a runner is hard".

Running is hard. Moses and many other runners like him train hard. Each weekday they have three training sessions, with the first one taking place way before sunrise and the culmination of the training week is a 32km run on Saturday.

Sunday is the only rest day that they afford themselves.

For Moses and Linet, their hard work has paid off. They are reaping the fruits of their labour and with age still on their side, we will be hearing of them way beyond 2012.

We will be following the progress of a selection of athletes and we would like to hear from you.

What would you like to ask about Moses and Linet's build-up to the Olympics? What are their hopes? What are the benefits of being involved in the same sport as your sibling? Send us your questions for Moses and Linet using the form below.

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see also
Olympic runners return as heroes
07 Jan 11 |  World Olympic Dreams
Rift Valley: Land of the runners
06 Jan 11 |  World Olympic Dreams
What makes African runners excel?
06 Aug 10 |  World Olympic Dreams
At home with Moses Masai
26 Jul 10 |  World Olympic Dreams
Moses Masai on path to success
26 Jul 10 |  World Olympic Dreams

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