Commonwealth Games: Fiery end to a memorable trip

By Kris Shannon

Jake Robertson was fuming after the 10,000m final yesterday. Photo / Greg Bowker
Jake Robertson was fuming after the 10,000m final yesterday. Photo / Greg Bowker

The Robertson twins' coming out party at the Commonwealth Games began with a bronze and ended with a blast.

Five days after the elusive duo opened their campaign with Zane's surprise medal in the 5000m, brother Jake rounded out the pair's involvement with a rant aimed at a range of targets including, most notably, compatriot Nick Willis.

The Kenyan-based pair have rarely been sighted by Kiwi sports fans and, although the success was a high point for New Zealand athletics in Glasgow, the tirade will leave a bitter taste.

Jake Robertson's frustration was understandable. Tripped by Willis in the 5000m, he was yesterday squeezed out of contention in the 10,000m by a cabal of Kenyans and a few struggling lapped runners.

These Games were in the Robertsons' dreams when they moved to Kenya aged 17, with no real plan and little money, so for the event to end in double disappointment must have been galling.

But both grievances are an inherent part of middle and long distance running, a fact the twins would be well aware of from their tough education in the sport.

"There was a lot of talk from the Kenyans - I consider it foul play - and the lapped runner just completely stopped my rhythm," an emotional Robertson said after his seventh-place finish at Hampden Park yesterday.

"I really don't believe [the lapped runners] should be competing. They do not have the same standards as us and they're really interfering.

"They are the reason I fell in the 5k, including Nick Willis, which I will not forget for four years. And if I'm injured in four years, then the rest of my life, maybe. That was my chance, in the 5000, so I will not forget that."

An hour later, given a chance to cool his head and, perhaps, receive some friendly advice on the matter, Robertson elaborated on his complaints. But when asked whether he harboured any ill-will towards Willis, the 24-year-old was hardly unequivocal.

"Nick was really apologetic about it. It could have been anyone. But I'm still upset about the race. That was my chance to medal."

He was in fine position before the accidental collision, while the same could be said of the groundwork he had laid in the middle stages of the 10,000m. But when the kick came, Robertson failed to respond, hindered, he felt, by team tactics and dirty play.

"There was a lot of talking going on among the Kenyans. Every time we made a move, they'd let their man know that I was coming and they'd move out on us. So we couldn't really make a move easily.

"That really stopped us having an effect on the race. They had it all their own way and I think that led to my failure in getting a medal.

"The lapped runners caused a problem in the 5k and the 10k. You've got to be looking out for them, because people were using them as a tactic to stop you moving and it completely stops your rhythm."

Those problems seem the sort a more experienced runner would avoid and, although both twins appeared in parts of these Games to be savvy for their age, Jake knows time is on their side. "Me and my brother are still young in the sport and we're going to only get better. 2016 should be a start. 2020, the Tokyo Olympics, is going to be when we're starting to peak."

- Herald on Sunday

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