Lawi Lalang Will Become American This Fall, But Can't Race For The U.S. Yet

​By Gordon Mack and Dennis Young

Another stud male distance runner is joining the U.S. Army and becoming an American citizen: Lawi Lalang. The 26-year-old just finished Army schooling and is on track to gain his citizenship this fall as part of the Army's World Class Athlete Program.

Lalang was a star in college at Arizona, running 13:00 for 5K the summer between his junior and senior year and beating Edward Cheserek for a 5K title his senior year.

However, Lalang will not be able to represent the U.S. internationally. In February, the IAAF froze all nationality changes in the sport. The ban is indefinite, though could be lifted at some point. 

Lalang has not run particularly well the last few years--his 5K PB is still that 13:00 from 2013. In 2015 and 2016, he only ran 13:16 and 13:33, though he did finish fifth in the two mile at Millrose in February, running 8:18. But athletes who have gone through rough patches have tended to run significantly better after some time in Scott Simmons's group. Simmons-coached athletes, whether with the American Distance Project or the World Class Athlete Program, were a dominant force at this past weekend's USATF Outdoor Championships. Paul Chelimo, Shadrack Kipchirchir, Leonard Korir, Stanley Kebenei, and Hillary Bor all made teams on the track, and marathoners Augustus Maiyo and Elkanah Kibet will be joining them in London. Lalang was better than all of those athletes were in college, and it's easy to see him getting back to their level.

Fourteen of Simmons's 18 athletes are with the Army. Here's the full roster with their affiliations; Susan Tanui is the only woman in the group.

Paul Chelimo 26 Shorter/UNC-Greensboro U.S. Army 1st (5K) SELECTED
Shadrack Kipchirchir 28 W. Kentucky/Oklahoma St. U.S. Army 2nd (10K) SELECTED
Leonard Korir 30 Iona U.S. Army 3rd (10K) SELECTED
Stanley Kebenei 27 Iowa Central/Arkansas Nike 2nd (3K SC) SELECTED
Hillary Bor 27 Iowa St. U.S. Army 3rd (3K SC) SELECTED
Augustus Maiyo 34 Alabama U.S. Army Ranked 7th (Marathon) SELECTED
Elkanah Kibet 31 Rend Lake/Auburn U.S. Army Ranked 8th (Marathon) SELECTED
Biya Simbassa 23 Iowa Central/Oklahoma -- 4th (10K) --
Haron Lagat 33 Texas Tech U.S. Army 5th (3K SC) --
Sam Chelanga 32 Liberty Nike 7th (10K) --
Emmanuel Bor 29 Alabama U.S. Army 10th (5K) --
Michael Jordan 26 Southern Indiana -- 12th (3K SC) --

Six additional U.S. Army athletes who did not compete at this year's USATF Championships:

Julius Bor 31 Cloud County/Alabama Recently returned from Afghanistan
Lawi Lalang 26 Arizona Finishes Army training by fall 2017
Nicholas Kipruto 35 Dine College/New Mexico 2015 Army Ten-Miler runner-up
Paul Katam 27 UNC-Greensboro Injured
Sam Kosgei 33 Lamar 2014 & 2016 Marine Corps Marathon champ
Susan Tanui 30 Dallas Baptist/Alaska Anchorage Recently added to team

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