Zane Robertson hangs on for bronze in 5000m

FRED WOODCOCK IN GLASGOW
Last updated 10:23 28/07/2014
Zane Robertson
Getty Images

INSPIRED RUN: Zane Robertson celebrates after claiming bronze in the men's 5000m race on the opening day of track and field action in Glasgow.

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Today is the happiest day of Zane Robertson's life, not just his athletics career.

That was the African-based Hamilton runner's emotional proclamation, deep in the bowels of Glasgow's Hampden Park, after he burst to a spine-tingling bronze medal in the 5000m final at the opening session of track and field at the Commonwealth Games today.

Robertson ran the race of his life, with help from luckless twin brother Jake, to finish third in 13 minutes 16.52 seconds, 2sec behind Kenyan Isiah Koech in second and 4sec behind the winner, Caleb Ndiku, also of Kenya.

Robertson had a near-perfect race and went with the two Kenyans when they made the final move. He couldn't stay with them, but he hung on bravely for bronze in the first medal event of the track and field programme at Hampden Park.

It was New Zealand's first Games medal across the 5000m distance.

Zane was toe-for-toe with his brother Jake, who was accidentally tripped by the third Kiwi, Nick Willis, with 850m to go and fell to the ground.

At the time Zane was leading and there were three Kenyans and three Kiwis in a tightly bunched top six, but the fall meant it was down to Zane to take on the Kenyans.

The 24-year-old tried his best and held on bravely.

He immediately went to his brother post-race and the pair, and Willis, celebrated by raising the Kiwi flag high above their shoulders to the delight of the boisterous New Zealand contingent near the finish line.

The trio then did a lap of honour that seemed to take an eternity.

"Absolutely delighted," Zane Robertson said. "This is what we dream of. We go to bed and dream of this. This is why we get up each day. To have this success today, it's the happiest day of my life.

"I think I did exactly what I planned to do with my bro. We charged out with the Kenyans, we made it a quicker pace, and put myself in it with three laps to go.

"It's always the last laps that are the longest, and I was right there. I was a little surprised the three of us got away on the other Kenyan and the Ugandan.

"I felt great out there."

But he still had some sadness, when thinking of his brother's plight.

"I'm really upset for my bro, I hope New Zealand really take into consideration that he could still get some government funding to support him.

"I took a look back when I heard the crowd just before I took off and saw he had tripped over. I just thought 'oh my God, what can I do here?' I just needed to focus on what I was doing. There was nothing I could do for him."

Jake Robertson was delighted for his brother but upset at his own poor fortune, again.

Just last year, he had slipped in the bath and injured himself before the world championships.

"I felt amazing. Today was going to be my day. It felt really easy," Jake said, before a rueful Willis interjected.

"And then the old fella tripped him up. It was definitely me."

Jake did not appear to hold it against Willis, the senior statesman of the track team: "That's the way things go. It could have happened to anyone. I'm really happy for my brother. We planned to work as a team and we were going to get two medals, I think. It is what it is.

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"I've got four years to use this as a positive rather than a negative. I could go away and cry about it like a little kid but I'm going to really focus."

He doesn't know if his legs will let him run in the 10,000m; they were freezing up and there was instant bruising immediately after the race.

As for Zane, his thoughts turned to home where his parents were watching on TV.

Zane and Jake moved to Kenya to live and train in the distance running mecca when they were 17 and Zane said he went six years without seeing his folks in the flesh, just talking on Skype.

"I'm sure back at home they're all pumped up right now," he said.

"I worked seven hard years and in the early years in Africa I sacrificed a lot. I don't see it that way anymore, I'm living the dream and travelling the world. I'm having fun living my life.

"All those sacrifices have paid off today."

Zane is expected to run the 1500m this week, along with Willis.

- Stuff

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