Athletics: Robertson twins racing for qualification

New Zealand distance runner Jake Robertson in Kenya with his training partners. Photo : NZPA.
New Zealand distance runner Jake Robertson in Kenya with his training partners. Photo : NZPA.

Kiwi twins Jake and Zane Robertson will race for the first time over 5000m on Sunday (NZT) and both have vowed to secure qualification in that event for next month's World Championships.

The African-based brothers last faced each other more than a year ago but will meet on the startline at the KBC-Nacht meeting in Heusden, Belgium this weekend.

There the 23-year-olds will be searching for a time fast enough to earn a ticket to Moscow to race in the 5000m, though Jake will already be on that plane having already secured a spot in the 10,000m.

His aim on Sunday is to achieve a world championship double, while brother Zane is seeking a shave one second from his personal best to ensure it will be a family affair in Russia.

That personal best came in Stanford in April, where he ran 13:21.15 to finish just 1.15 seconds outside the B standard, but Zane believed he was better positioned to attack the qualifying time on Sunday.

"In the 10-day period leading up to Stanford I didn't train because of a calf injury and bad cold, but I still finished just one second outside of the standard. I feel now, like, what's a second?''

Jake shares his twin's confidence and, having qualified for the 10,000m in Stanford by running 27:45.46 and climbing to third on the New Zealand all-time list, revealed another target for the pair.

"We both want the qualifying time and both of us are chasing the New Zealand record (Adrian Blincoe's 13:10.19),'' he said. ``I feel like both of us can get it in the shape we are in.''

The motivation of being in the same race should be enough to spur on the brothers, considering it is such a rarity. They last met in last April, with Zane concentrating on the 1500m/mile and Jake focusing his efforts on the 5000m, but Jake said he had given little thought to the meeting.

"There's more to the race than me and my brother. We are trying to beat everyone. We haven't raced each other in a 5000m before, so it is going to be a good thing. We would like to work together and hopefully take one or two.''

The twins left their Hamilton home to start a new life in East Africa aged just 17 and they have immersed themselves in the African way of life. Zane is now based in Ethiopia, has an Ethiopian girlfriend and speaks the local dialect, while Jake lives and trains in Iten, the distance running mecca in Kenya.

The pair may currently feel they are in the best form of their lives but the locals have taught the twins about patience as well as the sport.

"We are still just learning,'' Zane said. ``You can't expect miracles in just a matter of months, it takes longer than that. The Kenyans say you start running when you are 26, so we still have three years before we reach that age.''


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