On Friday October 9, 2009 I awoke in Chicago to the news that President Barrack Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Though he had only been in office nine months, so enamored was the Nobel committee with his diplomatic efforts to reintegrate the U.S. into the international community that they conferred the prize more to refute George W. Bush’s eight years of cowboy swagger than as a salute to any particular Obama achievement.
The story buzzed through the Chicago Hilton that morning as we assembled for the 10:30 a.m. pre-race press conference for Sunday’s 32nd Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Presiding over the presser was friend and British broadcaster Tim Hutchings, who would interview two panels of athletes on stage. To his left sat the women, to his right the men. The panel included 2008 Olympic Marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya who would be making his much anticipated American racing debut that Sunday morning in Chicago.
As Tim was interviewing the athletes, I noticed that Wanjiru was sitting slumped in his chair in a posture of utter disinterest, paying no attention whatsoever to what anyone else was saying. Some may have viewed it as relaxed, but I recall thinking at the time, “we’re building the sport around guys like this, and this is how he presents himself? He’s not even trying to mask his feelings.” (more…)