Depression almost made me quit sport, says athlete Zakayo

Thursday, February 17th, 2022 10:54 | By

Track-star Edward Zakayo reminisces sticking out his tongue in celebration after crossing the finish-line to win the World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland in 2018 that marked the highlight of his career.

He also remembers suffering from an injury which drove him to issues related to depression and social anxiety to an extent that he couldn’t believe in himself again.

Today, as he works on his comeback trail, he avers that the period between mid 2020 and 2021 was his lowest and which he wishes to forget in a hurry.

During his injury-prone period, Zakayo recalls how things went south and especially when he lost his coach.

“When I got injured, a lot of people abandoned me, they didn’t want anything to do with me or my situation. The lowest moment was when my then coach turned his back on me and this nearly drove me to depression,” Zakayo shared with People Sport.

Granted, the tribulations contributed to Zakayo parting ways with the Nike-sponsored Kapsait Athletics camp on the the border of West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet counties, where he had made his name.

“I wanted a fresh start where I could focus and put my life back on track. It was a tall order to say the least” adds Zakayo.

Zakayo describes himself as a devoted christian who loves to listen to Gospel music after his training in the morning before taking a rest before embarking on the evening run which is essential to the athletes.

“God has been able to fight my many battles. He has elevated me from a very humble background to stardom and even continued to walk with men and this is something I will forever be thankful about,” be adds.

Zakayo’s star started shining when he competed at the national championships in 2014 where he managed to come in second in the 5,000m race.

In 2017, he made the team for the World Under-18 Championships at Kasarani, Nairobi, where he bagged silver in the 3,000m race, behind Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega.

In 2018 during the World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland, he was a cut above the rest iin the 5,000m after bagging gold beating his rival from Ethiopia Barega who came a distance fourth.

Zakayo clocked 13:20.16 ahead of his compatriot Stanley Waithaka who was timed 13:2057 while Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen was third clocking 13:20.78.

“Ingebrigtsen and Barega are Olympic champion and I’m overly happy for the kind of progress they have done since the under 20 competition when I beat them both. It’s unfortunate I was not able to make it to Tokyo due to an injury sustained last year,” noted Zakayo.

Apparently, Zakayo didn’t make the team to the World Championships in Doha, Qatar in due to illness before the trials at Kasarani in 2019.

He describes his current coach William Koila in Iten as God-sent, saying he is the one who is helping him achieve his previous heroics,-.

For now, Zakayo says he hopes the season will be defining as he looks ahead to to qualifying for the World Athletics Championships In Eugene, Oregon in July.

“As a Christian I have learnt not to hold grudges. My buzz words is to to forgive and be at peace with myself at all times and with the help of my coach, I’m confident I will return to my best form,” says Zakayo whose first competition in over a year was the Kipkeino Classic continental tour event in Nairobi last September.

Since then, he managed an impressive fifth place finish during the national cross country championships in Eldoret in January before finishing 13th during the Memorial Agnes Tirop World Cross Country event also held in Eldoret.

The 2018 African Championship 5000m champion described the race as the perfect preparation for his planned assault at a ticket to Oregon later this year. 

“I’m relieved to be back in action after a long time out due to a hip injury sustained last year. I ran at the National Cross Country Championship two weeks ago and it felt so good. This event is just what the doctor ordered as far as my preparations are concerned,” he said.

The 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist acknowledges the support of his mother Agnes Tingua in the ongoing journey.

“In all I do, I appreciate my mum because she struggled a lot to raise us,” concluded Zakayo who recently parted ways with sportswear giant Nike for Adidas.

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