Lalang reflects on freshman year success, the Olympics, Usain Bolt, country music and more
Lawi Lalang had quite the season with Arizona last year.
Lalang, a native of Kenya, went undefeated during the cross-country season, broke multiple course records and won the Pac-12 and NCAA championships.
In the spring Lalang continued his success on the track and field team, breaking more collegiate records, winning the Pac-12 Championship (1,500M), becoming a NCAA Indoor Champion (3k, 5k) and accepting an invitation to the All-Pac-12 teams for both cross country and track.
With the cross-country season right around the corner, Lalang spoke with the Daily Wildcat on Wednesday about his recent success, his fondness for country music, the Olympics and Usain Bolt.
Daily Wildcat: At the beginning of last season, did you think you were going to be as successful as you were?
Lalang: Actually I didn’t think I’d be that successful. I knew I’d do well but not on that level.
Do you think you can repeat what you did last year?
Yeah! I mean even as I look back I’m surprised with all I did and all the records I set, but you know, last year is over and it’s another year, and I know I’ll do good.
Outside of training for the season, what did you do this summer?
I went home to Kenya, saw some of my friends and family. I did the Kenya trails not too long ago and I just got back.
Do you travel home to Kenya very often?
No, this summer was my first time back to Kenya [since coming to the UA]. All my family lives in Kenya, except for my brother who lives with me here in Tucson. So I, of course, miss it a lot.
You were obviously very successful this past year. Are the 2016 Olympics in Brazil a goal for you?
Yeah that’s actually my goal right now. I’m currently training to make it to Brazil.
What are your feelings about Usain Bolt?
He’s really amazing. I think he’s the best! I’ve never seen someone run like that — it’s great to watch.
Do you like any other sports other than cross-country or track?
Yeah, I like to play volleyball. It’s a lot of fun. It’s pretty popular in Kenya.
Is there any kind of music that you like to listen to?
I like popular pop music, but I actually like country music.
Why did you come to Arizona?
Well, first off, simply because my brother was here, but secondly I met [associate head] coach [James] Li during the winter holiday. He was checking on my brother in Kenya and doing some recruiting. During that time we had a time trial and I was in it. I guess coach Li was impressed by me. We talked afterward and then he promised he’d get me to Tucson.
What’s been your favorite part about Arizona?
I really enjoy being on the team and having all the great coaches we have. The coaches are really concerned about you and take good care of you and are always there for support.
How have you been able to be one of the best runners in the country but also do well in school?
Being a good student athlete is something that I’ve been training for since I was in high school. I’ve always worked hard on being good in sports but also good in academics. I’ve been getting better and better at balancing my time and it’s almost become natural now.
This interview has been edited for clarity.