Introduction

Two things are synonymous with Kenya; the ultimate African Safari destination and home to the greatest athletes of all time. Now, if you are yet to book an African tour adventure in the wild, you can still experience the magic Kenya has to offer by attending annual athletics competitions. Think of the Olympics, World Championships, the Continental Cup, Commonwealth Games, or even the World Junior Championships. We bet you will not miss Kenyan athletes on the lineup of leading athletes. Then, who are the 20 Kenyan athletes, and what are their achievements? Check them out below:-

Here are the top 20 Kenyan Athletes of all time: 

 

1.      Brigid Jepscheschir Kosgey

  Brigid Jepscheschir Kosgey

Quick Statistics

Born: 20 February 1994, Kapsowar Kenya

Age When She Started Competing: 17

Sport Event(s): Marathon, Half Marathon, 10 Kilometers

Medal Records:

  • Olympic Games: 2020 Tokyo Olympics (Silver),
  • World Marathon Majors: 2018 Chicago Marathon (Gold), 2019 London Marathon (Gold), 2019 Chicago Marathon (Gold), 2020 London Marathon (Gold), 2021 Tokyo Marathon (Gold), 2017 Chicago Marathon (Silver), 2018 London Marathon(Silver)

Personal Best Time: Marathon: 2:14:04 WR (Chicago 2019), Half marathon: 64:49 (Ras Al Khaimah 2020)

 

Brigid Jescheschir Kosgey is a long-distance runner and the reigning marathon world record holder for women. Her debut into running came out of despair when she missed out on her final high school exams due to a lack of school fees. While contemplating what to do, she partnered with Matthew Kosgei, who is now her husband, and started her running practice. Later in 2015, after giving birth to her twins, Brigid joined the Kapsait Athletics Training Camp in Elgeyo Marakwet.

 

Brigid’s first international race was the 2015 Porto Marathon which she won by 2:47:59. She would then improve her performance in the 2016 Milan Marathon (PB of 2:27:45), 2016 Lisbon Marathon (PB of 2:24:45), and 2017 Chicago Marathon (PB of 2:20:22). Two years later, Brigid clocked a world record of 2:14:04 in the 2019 Chicago Marathon, shattering her previous PB of 2:18:35 at the same marathon.

Did You Know?

Kosgey wears specially adapted Nike shoes when competing. These shoes improve the running economy by up to 8% and are said to give Brigid a 60-90 second advantage. Still, these are shoes allowed by the World Athletics regulations. And they are the same controversial shoes worn by Ruth Kipngetich, the three-time World Half Marathon record holder, and Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s greatest marathon runner of all time.

 

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2.      Pamela Jelimo

Pamela Jelimo

Quick Statistics

Born: 5 December 1989, Nandi District Kenya

Age When She Started Competing: 13

Sport Event(s): Women’s Athletics

Medal Records:

  • Olympic Games: 2008 Beijing Olympics 800 m (Gold), 2012 London Olympics 800 m (Bronze)
  • World Indoor Championships: 2012 Istanbul Indoor Championships 800 m (Gold),
  • African Championships: 2008 Addis Ababa African Championships 800 m (Gold), 2008 Addis Ababa African Championships 4×400 m relay (Silver)

Personal Best Time: July 2007 200 meters Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: 24.68 seconds, 26 June 2008 400 meters Nairobi, Kenya: 52.78 seconds, 29 August 2008 800 meters Zürich, Switzerland: 1:54.01 minutes, 17 April 2009 1500 meters Kakamega, Kenya: 4:19.31 minutes

 

Pamela Jelimo was barely known at home or internationally when she became the 2008 Golden Girl of Athletics. She became the 2008 Olympic 800m Champion and won the 2008 AF Golden League $1 million jackpot during her first international competitions. Pamela was barely 18 years old.

 

Despite a brilliant entry into athletics, Pamela recorded dismal results between 2009 and 2011. She missed the 2009 indoor season due to an Achilles strain. In May of the same year, Pamela became 6th in the 800 meters race in Morocco. In 2009, she competed in the 2009 World Championships but did not finish her semi-final. And in 2010, Pamela failed to qualify for the 2010 African Championships. Finally, she finished last in the 2011 Prefontaine Classic.

 

Pamela’s comeback was in 2012 during the 2012 World Indoor Championship in Istanbul, Turkey. That same year, she had thirteen straight victories in international competitions. She would then take a break from running and become a police instructor at Kiganjo, Kenya.

Did You Know?

Pamela’s exceptional entry into athletics was only comparable to Maria Mutola. Maria, the Mozambique legend, made her Olympic debut and won both the Olympic 800 m and the $1 million Golden League Jackpot in 2003.

 

3.      Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei

Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei

 

Quick Statistics

Born: 13 December 1983, Kabirirsang, Kenya

Age When She Started Competing: 15

Sport Event(s): Track and Field, 800 meters

Medal Records:

  • Olympic Games: 2008 Beijing 800 m (Silver),
  • World Championships: 2007 Osaka 800 m (Gold), 2009 Berlin 800 m (Silver), 2011 Daegu 800 m (Silver)
  • Continental Cup: 2010 Split 800 m (Gold), 2006 Athens 800 m (Silver)
  • Commonwealth Games: 2006 Melbourne 800 m (Gold)
  • World Junior Championships: 2002 Kingston 800 m (Gold)

Personal Best Time:  400 Meters: 52.14 Nairobi (KEN) 14 June 2012, 500 Meters: 1:16.2h Kisumu (KEN) 25 March 2011, 600 Meters: 1:23.35 Liège (BEL)     05 July 201, 800 Meters: 1:54.01 Letzigrund, Zürich (SUI) 29 August 2008

 

Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei, nicknamed Eldoret Express, is a Kenyan middle-distance runner specializing in 800 meters. Initially, she took part in 400 meters and only switched to 800 meters when her specialty was not in the trials. Janeth got her breakthrough in 2006 after several failed attempts to qualify and represent Kenya in world championships. She beat veteran Maria Mutola in the 2006 Commonwealth Games 800 meters.

 

That same year, Janeth won the African Championships in Athletics 800 meters and beat her record twice. For this, she was awarded the 2006 Kenyan Sportswoman of the Year. In 2007, Janeth became the first Kenyan middle-distance runner to attain gold in the 800 meters category. She became known for her consistent performance in the 800 meters.

Did You Know?

During the 2009 World Championships, Janeth collided with Caster Semenya and finished last in her heat. She had led the race and was just 200 meters from the finishing line. After protesting, Janeth was allowed to be in the semi-finals, where she attained a silver medal.

 

4.   Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot

Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot

Quick Statistics

Born: 11 September 1983, Keiyo Kenya

Age When She Started Competing: 15

Sport Event(s): Track and Field – Marathon, Half Marathon, 10,000 meters, 5000 meters

Medal Records:

  • World Finals – 2007 5000 m (Silver), 2009 5000 m (Gold), 2011 10,000 m (Gold), 5000 m (Gold), 2015 10,000 m (Gold),
  • Olympic Finals – 2012 10,000 m (Bronze), 5000 m (Silver), 2016 10,000 m (Silver), 5000 m (Gold)

Personal Best Time: 5000 m: 14:20.87 (Stockholm 2011), 10,000 m: 29:32.53 (Rio de Janeiro 2016), Marathon: 2:18:31 (London 2018)

 

Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot is a four-time World Championships gold medalist, one-time Olympic Games gold medalist, two-times Olympic Games silver medalist, and a one-time Olympic Games bronze medalist. More so, she is ranked second in the Women’s Marathon. Her honors make her the most decorated Kenyan female athlete in history.

 

Nicknamed “Pocket Rocket”, Vivian was a strategist in choosing and preparing for world competitions while juggling schoolwork and later family life. She overcame disappointments, including when she expected to be feted the Female Athlete of the Year Award in Monaco for her unbeaten records and world titles. The award went to Sally Pearson, with Vivian getting the Female Performance of the Year recognition, much to her dismay.

Did You Know?

Vivian began her sports career in 1996 and was spotted a year later by veteran coach David Maiyo. That year, Vivian took part in national trials for the 1997 World Cross Country Championships. Despite winning the trials, Vivian was dropped for being underage. She weighed 38 kgs and was a fourth-grade student.

 

5.      Hellen Obiri

Hellen Obiri

Quick Statistics

Born: 13 December 1989, Kisii Kenya

Age When She Started Competing: 22

Sport Event(s): Half Marathon, 1500 Meters, 5000 meters

Medal Records:

  • Olympic Games: 2016 Rio de Janeiro 5000 m (Silver), 2020 Tokyo 5000 m (Silver)
  • World Championships: 2017 London 5000 m (Gold), 2019 Doha 5000 m (Gold), 2013 Moscow 1500 m (Bronze)
  • World Indoor Championships: 2012 Istanbul 3000 m (Gold), 2014 Sopot 3000 m (Silver)
  • World Cross Country Championships: 2019 Aarhus Senior race (Gold), 2019 Aarhus Team (Silver)
  • World Relays: 2014 Nassau 4×1500 m relay (Gold)
  • Commonwealth Games: 2018 Gold Coast 5000 m (Gold)
  • African Championships: 2014 Marrakech 1500 m (Gold), 2018 Asaba 5000 m (Gold)

 

Personal Best Time: 800 meters  2:00.54 London (2011), 1500 meters 3:57.05 Eugene (2014), One mile 4:16.15 London (2018), 3000 meters  8:20.68 Doha (2014), 3000 meters indoor 8:29.41 Birmingham (2017), Two miles 9:14.55 Eugene (2021), 5000 meters                14:18.37 Rome (2017), 10,000 meters  30:24.27 Tokyo (2021), 4×1500 m relay 16:33.58 Bahamas (2014), 5 km 14:30 Zürich (2021), 10 km 30:53 Barcelona (2020), Half marathon 1:04:22 Dubai (2022)

 

Hellen Obiri is the world record holder for IAAF World Relays 4X1500 meters relay. She attained the record on 24th May 2014 in Nassau, Bahamas. Likewise, Hellen set a new African record in 3000 meters and a continental title, giving her a headstart in her distance running career. She attributes her career path to Noah Ngeny, the Sydney Olympics 1,500 m gold medallist. Ngeny convinced her to switch from 800m to 1500m early on.

 

Since 2014, Hellen has proven her prowess in the half marathon, 1500 meters, and 5000 meters. She has defeated other notable athletes like Defar, an Ethiopian four-time women 3000m titleholder, compatriot Faith Kipyegon, and Genzebe Dibaba, a former world record holder at 1500 meters.

Did You Know?

In 2017, the New African magazine cited Hellen Obiri as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Africans. The magazine recognizes Hellen’s African leadership influence via her amazing sports career.

 

6.      Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon

Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon

Quick Statistics

Born: 10 January 1994, Bomet Kenya

Age When She Started Competing: 16

Sport Event(s): 1500 Meters, 800 Meters, 1000 Meters

 

Medal Records:

  • Olympic Games: 2016 Rio de Janeiro 1500 m (Gold),2020 Tokyo 1500 m (Gold)
  • World Championships: 2017 London 1500 m (Gold), 2015 Beijing 1500 m (Gold), 2019 Doha 1500 m (Silver)
  • World Relays: 2014 Nassau 4×1500 m (Gold)
  • Diamond League: 2017 1500 m (First Place), 2021 1500 m (First Place)
  • Commonwealth Games: 2014 Glasgow 1500 m (Gold)
  • World Junior Championships: 2012 Barcelona 1500 m (Gold)
  • World Youth Championships: 2011 Lille 1500 m (Gold),
  • World Cross Country Championships: 2010 Bydgoszcz Junior team (Gold), 2011 Punta Umbria Junior race (Gold), 2011 Punta Umbria Junior team (Silver), 2013 Bydgoszcz Junior race (Gold), 2013 Bydgoszcz Junior team (Gold), 2017 Kampala Senior team Gold)

 

Personal Best Time: 800 meters  – 1:57.68 Doha (2020), 1000 meters  – 2:29.15 Monaco (2020), 1500 meters  – 3:51.07 Monaco (2021), One mile – 4:16.71 Brussels (2015), 3000 meters  8:23.55 Doha (2014), 5000 meters 14:31.95 Eugene (2015), 4×1500 m relay 16:33.58 Bahamas (2014)

 

Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon is a middle-distance runner specializing in 1500 meters. She is a two-times Olympic Games gold medalist, a two-times World Cross Country Championships gold medalist, two-times World Championships silver medalist, and one-time World Championships gold medalist. She has either won or become second in all the major championships she participated in since 2014. Hence, Faith is considered the greatest female 1500 meters athlete in history.

Did You Know?

Faith married Timothy Kitum, a fellow middle-distance runner and the 2012 Olympic Games bronze medalist. The couple welcomed their first child in June 2018. A year later, Faith resumed competing and won the Diamond League’s Prefontaine Classic in Palo Alto.

 

7.      Agnes Jebet Tirop

Agnes Jebet Tirop

Quick Statistics

Born: 23 October 1995, Uasin Gishu Kenya

Age When She Started Competing: 17

Sport Event(s): 10 Kilometers, 5000 meters, 3000 meters

Medal Records:

  • World Championships: 2019 Doha 10,000 m (Bronze), 2017 London 10,000 m (Bronze)
  • World Junior Championships: 2014 Eugene 5000 m (Bronze), 2012 Barcelona 5000 m (Bronze),
  • World Cross Country Championships: 2017 Kampala Senior team (Gold), 2015 Guiyang Senior race (Gold), 2013 Bydgoszcz Junior team (Gold), 2015 Guiyang Senior team (Silver), 2013 Bydgoszcz Junior race (Silver)

 

Personal Best Time: 1500 Meters 4:12.68 Bellinzona (2013), 2000 Meters 5:48.65 Amsterdam (2013),3000 Meters 8:22.92 Doha (2020), 5000 Meters          14:20.68 London (2019)   

 

The late Agnes Tirop is a former long-distance runner who rose to fame when she became the second youngest-ever gold medalist in the women’s race during the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships. She was already the reigning champion in the African Cross Country Championships. And by the time of her death in October 2021, Agnes was the world record holder in the women’s only 10 kilometers.

Did You Know?

Agnes was just 25 years when she was found stabbed to death in her home. Her husband, Ibrahim Rotich, remains the prime suspect in the murder. He was arrested days later at the coastal city of Mombasa when his getaway vehicle rammed into a lorry as he tried to flee.

 

8.      Catherine Ndereba

Catherine Ndereba

Quick Statistics

Born: 21 July 1972, Nyeri Kenya

Age When She Started Competing: 22

Sport Event(s): Marathon

Medal Records:

  • Olympic Games: 2004 Athens (Silver), 2008 Beijing (Silver)
  • World Championships: 2003 Paris (Gold), 2007 Osaka (Gold), 2005 Helsinki (Silver)
  • World Marathon Majors: 2006 New York City (Bronze), 2005 Boston (Gold), 2004 Boston (Gold), 2003 New York City (Silver), London (Silver), 2002 Chicago (Silver), 2002 Boston (Silver), 2001 Chicago (Gold), 2001 Boston (Gold), 2000 Chicago (Gold), 2000 Boston (Gold), 1998 New York City (Silver)

 

Personal Best Time: 2001 Chicago Marathon – 2:18:47, 2002        Chicago Marathon – 2:19:26, 2003 London Marathon – 2:19:55, 2000 Chicago Marathon – 2:21:33, 2005 Helsinki IAAF World Championships – 2:22:01, 2003     Paris-St-Denis IAAF World Championships 2:23:55, 2001 Budapest Avon Women’s Running – 31:02, 30 Kilometres 2002 Chicago Marathon – 1:39:21, 2006 Osaka International Ladies Marathon – 2:25:05, Half Marathon 2001 The Hague City – 1:07:54

 

Catherine Ndereba is a retired marathon distance runner now serving as an assistant commissioner of Prisons Services in Kenya. Her glorious days as a marathon runner saw her becoming a two-time World Championships gold medalist, the only athlete to win gold in these championships twice. Also, she was a two-time Olympic Games silver medalist, one-time World Championships silver medalist, and a World Half Marathon Championships bronze medalist.

 

Nicknamed Catherine the Great, Ndereba had so many firsts, including the first female athlete to run under 2:19, the first female African athlete to win the marathon at the World Championships, and silver at the Olympic Games, and the first female athlete to win the Boston Marathon four times.

Did You Know?

By the end of her sporting career, Ndereba was Kenya’s sportswoman of the year twice. She had 18 half marathon wins, 19 marathon starts and 17 podium finishes. She remains one of the most dominant figures in the women’s marathon.

 

9.      Tegla Loroupe 

Tegla Loroupe

Quick Statistics

Born: 9 May 1973, West Pokot Kenya

Age When She Started Competing: 15

Sport Event(s): Marathon, Long Distance Running

Medal Records:

  • World Championships: 1995 Gothenburg 10,000 m (Bronze), 1999 Seville 10,000 m (Bronze)
  • World Half Marathon Championships: 1997 Košice Individual (Gold), 1998 Zürich Individual (Gold), 1998 Zürich Team (Gold), 1999 Palermo Individual (Gold), 1999 Palermo Team (Gold), 1997 Košice Team (Silver)
  • New York City Marathon: 1994 New York City Marathon (Gold), 1995 New York City Marathon (Gold)

 

Personal Best Time: 3000 meters: 8:30.95, 5000 meters: 14:45.95, 10,000 meters: 30:32.03, Marathon: 2:20:43 WR

 

Tegla Loroupe is a long-distance road and track runner. Also, she is the world record holder for the 20,000 m, 25,000 m, and 30,000 m track races. She attained the titles in Germany in the year 2000, 2002, and 2003 respectively.

 

Tegla grew up in a polygamous family where her father had four wives. Being one of 24 children, Tegla spent most of her childhood grazing cattle and taking care of her younger siblings. Still, she would run to and from school, ten kilometers away from home. And, when she took part in school athletics competitions, Tegla would outrun much older students. Still, she got no support from her family, friends, or school. Even Athletics Kenya dismissed Tegla’s ambitions, sighting her small and thin size. The change came when Tegla won a prestigious cross country race barefoot in 1988.

Did You Know?

Like Catherine Ndereba, Tegla is a Kenyan female athlete with many firsts. She was the first African female athlete to attain a marathon world record, one that she held between 1998 and 2001. Also, Tegla is the first female athlete to win the New York City Marathon. She even won it twice. And in 2016, Tegla was the Chef de Mission tasked with organizing Refugee Team in the 2016 Summer Olympics. Her other accolades include being named a United Nations Ambassador of Sport alongside Roger Federer and Katrina Webb in 2006. She is also an International Sports Ambassador for the IAAF and UNICEF.

 

10.  Edith Masai

Edith Masai

Quick Statistics

Born: 4 April 1967, Mt. Elgon, Kenya

Age When She Started Competing: 32

Sport Event(s): Cross Country, Track, & Road Races

Medal Records:

  • World Championships: 2003 Paris 5000 m (Bronze)
  • World Cross Country Championships: 2002 Dublin Short race (Gold), 2003 Lausanne Short race (Gold), 2004 Brussels  Short race (Gold), 2001 Ostend Short race (Bronze)
  • African Championships: 2006 Bambous 10,000 m (Gold)
  • All-Africa Games: 2007 Algiers 10,000 m (Silver)

Personal Best Time: 3000 meters 8:23.23 Monaco 2002, 5000 meters 14:33.84 Oslo 2006, 10,000 meters   30:30.26 Helsinki 2005, 10 kilometers 31:13 La Courneuve 2002, 15 kilometers          47:52 Berlin 2006, 20 kilometers 1:03:52 Berlin 2006, Half marathon                1:07:16 Berlin 2006, 30 kilometers 1:42:15 Hamburg 2006, Marathon 2:27:06 Hamburg 2005, 5 kilometers 14:50 Neuss 2002, 10 miles road 52:45 Zaandam 2002

 

Edith Masai is a former long-distance runner and a Kenyan cross country legend. She represented Kenya in various cross country, track, and road races. Indeed, she is a three-time World Cross Country Championships gold medalist, one-time World Championships bronze medalist, one-time World Cross Country Championships bronze medalist, and a World Athletics Final gold medalist. 

Did You Know?

Edith is one of the female Kenyan athletes with consistent and outstanding performance while aged over 35 years. During the 2007 All Africa Games, Edith Masai won a silver medal in the 10,000 meters category. Her personal best time of 31:31.18 was a new record for a female athlete aged above 40 years.

 

11.  Eliud Kipchoge

Eliud Kipchoge

 

Quick Statistics

Born: 5 November 1984, Nandi Kenya

Age When He Started Competing: 19

Sport Event(s): Marathon, 5000 meters

Medal Records:

  • Olympic Games: 2020 Tokyo Marathon (Gold), 2016 Rio de Janeiro Marathon (Gold), 2008 Beijing 5000 m (Silver), 2004 Athens 5000 m (Bronze)
  • World Championships: 2003 Paris 5000 m (Gold), 2007 Osaka 5000 m(Silver)
  • World Cross Country Championships: 2003 Lausanne Junior race (Gold)
  • World Indoor Championships: 2006 Moscow 3000 m (Bronze)
  • Commonwealth Games: 2010 Delhi 5000 m (Silver)
  • World Marathon Majors: 2021 Tokyo Marathon (Gold), 2019 London Marathon (Gold), 2018 Berlin Marathon (Gold), 2018 London Marathon(Gold), 2017 Berlin Marathon(Gold), 2016 London Marathon(Gold), 2015 London Marathon(Gold), 2015 Berlin Marathon(Gold), 2014 Chicago Marathon (Gold), 2013 Berlin Marathon (Silver)

 

Personal Best Time: Marathon: 2:01:39 World Record (Berlin 2018), 10,000 m: 26:49.02 (Hengelo 2007), 5000 m: 12:46.53 (Rome 2004), Mile: 3:50.40 (London 2004)

 

The list of top 20 Kenyan athletes is incomplete without  mentioning Eliud Kipchoge. Eliud is a long-distance runner and the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games marathon winner. He set a new world record in the marathon by finishing at 2:01:39 during the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His outstanding performance makes him the greatest marathon runner and sportsman in history.

 

Did You Know?

Eliud Kipchoge is famous for taking up and beating the Ineos 1:59 Challenge, an event organized by Nike specifically for him. On 12th October 2019, in Vienna, Austria, and under the watchful eyes of the entire world, Eliud Kipchoge broke the two-hour barrier over marathon distance running. Even though the event lacked open competition and the achievement was not ratified as a marathon world record, Eliud proved that finishing the race under two hours is indeed possible.

 

12.  David Lekuta Rudisha

David Rudisha

Quick Statistics

Born: 17 December 1988, Kilgoris Kenya

Age When He Started Competing: 17

Sport Event(s): Track- 800 meters

Medal Records:

  • Olympic Games: 2012 London 800 m (Gold), 2016 Rio de Janeiro 800 m (Gold)
  • World Championships: 2015 Beijing 800 m (Gold), 2011 Daegu 800 m (Gold)
  • World Junior Championships: 2006 Beijing 800 m (Gold)
  • Commonwealth Games: 2014 Glasgow 800 m (Silver)
  • African Championships: 2010 Nairobi 800 m (Gold), 2008 Addis Ababa 800 m (Gold)
  • Continental Cup: 2010 Split 800 m (Gold)

Personal Best Time: 400 m: 45.15 (2013), 500 m: 57.69 WB[a] (Newcastle upon Tyne 2016), 600 m: 1:13.10 AR (Birmingham 2016), 800 m: 1:40.91 WR (London 2012), 1000 m: 2:19.43 (Kingston 2017)

 

David Lekuta Rudisha is the world record holder for the men’s 800 meters race. He set the record during the 2012 Olympics Games in London. Here, Rudisha became the first athlete to dip under the 1:41 barrier. His performance remains one of the finest in the history of athletics. Still, Rudisha’s fame began back in 2010 when he broke the 800 meters world record twice. He is known for his graceful running style with long strides that earned him the nickname Pride of Africa.

Did You Know?

 When Rudisha tripped and hurt his knee while jogging around Central in 2013, little did he know he would never fully recover his running prowess. After a series of checkups, surgeries, and therapy, Rudisha resumed running but struggled to earn any medal.

 

13.  Paul Kibii Tergat

Paul Kibii Tergat

Quick Statistics

Born: 17 June 1969, Baringo Kenya

Age When He Started Competing: 26

Sport Event(s): Long Distance Running

Medal Records:

  • Olympic Games: 1996 Atlanta 10,000 m (Silver), 2000 Sydney 10,000 m (Silver)
  • World Championships: 1997 Athens 10,000 m (Silver), 1999 Sevilla 10,000 m (Silver), 1995 Gothenburg 10,000 m (Bronze)
  • World Cross Country Championships: 1995 Durham Long Race (Gold), 1996 Stellenbosch Long Race (Gold), 1997 Turin Long Race (Gold), 1998 Marrakesh Long Race (Gold), 1999 Belfast Long Race (Gold), 2000 Vilamoura Long Race (Bronze)
  • World Half Marathon Championships: 1999 Palermo Half marathon (Gold), 2000 Veracruz Half marathon (Gold)

Personal Best Time: 3000 m 7:28.70 Monaco (1996), 5000 m 12:49.87 Zürich (1997), 10,000 m 26:27.85 Brussels (1997), 10 km (road) 27:45+ Lisbon (2006), 15 km (road) 42:04+ Milan (1998), Ten miles (road) 45:12+ Milan (1998), 20 km (road) 56:18+ Milan (1998), Half marathon 59:06a Lisbon (2000), 30 km (road) 1:29:00+ London (2002), Marathon 2:04:55 Berlin (2003)

 

Paul Tergat is one of the veteran Kenyan athletes that gave Kenya’s flag international recognition. He is a former long-distance runner with outstanding accomplishments up his sleeve. Indeed, Tergat won five consecutive titles between 1995 and 1999 in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. By then, IAAF was yet to introduce short courses. His other notable wins were five times on the Saint Silvester Road Race and winning street racing in Latin America. His win earned him celebrity status in Brazil.

Did You Know?

During his time, Paul Tergat had intense competition from his friend, the Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie. Haile Gebrselassie defeated Tergat by slim margins in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the 2000 Sydney Olympics. By 2000, the margin of victory was just nine hundredths of a second. Still, the two great athletes would set, break, and reset each other’s world records in the 10,000 meters category.

 

14.  Ezekiel Kemboi Chebii

Ezekiel Kemboi Chebii

Quick Statistics

Born: 25 May 1982, Kapsowar Kenya

Age When He Started Competing: 17

Sport Event(s): Track & Field – 3000 meters Steeplechase

Medal Records:

  • Olympic Games: 2004 Athens 3000 m (Gold), 2012 London 3000 m (Gold)
  • World Championships: 2009 Berlin 3000 m (Gold), 2011 Daegu 3000 m (Gold), 2013 Moscow 3000 m (Gold), 2015 Beijing 3000 m (Gold), 2003 Paris 3000 m (Silver), 2005 Helsinki 3000 m (Silver), 2007 Osaka 3000 m (Silver)
  • Commonwealth Games: 2006 Melbourne 3000 m (Gold), 2002 Manchester 3000 m (Silver), 2010 Delhi 3000 m (Silver), 2014 Glasgow 3000 m (Bronze)

Personal Best Time: 800 meters 1:49.57 Cles (ITA) 2003, 1500 meters 3:40.8h Kisumu (KEN)2004, 3000 meters 7:44.24 Stadio Guidobaldi, Rieti (ITA) 2012, 5000 meters 13:50.61 Sulmona (ITA) 2011, 3000 meters Steeplechase 7:55.76 Stade Louis II, Monaco (MON) 2011, 10 kilometers 28:38 Arezzo (ITA)2011

 

The world first knew of Ezekiel Kemboi in the 2004 Summer Olympics when he won gold in the 3000 meters steeplechase. Kembo would repeat his performance in the 2009,2011,2013,2015 World Championships and the 2012 Summer Olympics. Only three other athletes have ever won Olympic and World golds at the same event. And he remains the only athlete to have won four world championships in the 3000 meters steeplechase. Further, Kemboi’s personal best of 7:55.76 in 2011 Monaco makes him the sixth fastest athlete of all time.

Did You Know?

Early in his career, Kemboi faced intense competition from Saif Saeed Shaheen (formerly Stephen Cherono). Shaheen defeated Kemboi by a second in the 2003 World Championships. Stephen Cherono switched nationalities from Kenya to represent Qatar.

 

15.  Kipchoge Hezekiah Keino

Kipchoge Hezekiah Keino

Quick Statistics

Born: 17 January 1940, Nandi District, Kenya

Age When He Started Competing: 22

Sport Event(s): Track and Field

Medal Records:

  • Olympic Games: 1972 Munich 3000 m steeple (Gold), 1968 Mexico City 1500 m (Gold), 1972 Munich 1500 m (Silver), 1968 Mexico City 5000 m (Silver)
  • Commonwealth Games: 1970 Edinburgh 1500 m (Gold), 1966 Kingston Mile (Gold), 1966 Kingston 3 mile (Gold), 1970 Edinburgh 5000 m (Bronze)
  • All-Africa Games: 1965 Brazzaville 5000 m (Gold), 1965 Brazzaville 1500 m (Gold), 1973 Lagos 1500 m (Silver)

Personal Best Time: 800 m: 1:46.41 (Munich 1972), 1500 m: 3:34.91 (Mexico City 1968), Mile: 3:53.1 (Kisumu 1967), 3000 m: 7:39.6 (Helsingborg 1965), 5000 m: 13:24.2 (Auckland 1965), 10,000 m: 28:06.4 (Leningrad 1968), 3000 m steeple: 8:23.64 (Munich 1972)

 

Kipchoge Keino is another veteran Kenyan athlete and a role model. He set a great winning tradition for Kenyan athletes in distance running. Notably, Keino won gold and silver in the 1968 Olympics despite struggling with a gallbladder infection. He got to the venue by jogging a mile from the Olympic Village after their bus got stuck in traffic. In 1972, Kipchoge won a gold medal in the 3000 meters steeplechase during the 1972 Olympics in Munich. He retired from track a year later.

Did You Know?

Kip Keino is famous for training at 1,800 meters above sea level. This high-altitude training technique acclimatized him to the actual weather conditions in countries where he would later compete. And it ensured he was fit to compete at any altitude.

 

16.  Samuel Kamau Wanjiru

Samuel Kamau Wanjiru

Quick Statistics

Born: 10 November 1986, Nyahururu Kenya

Age When He Started Competing: 8

Sport Event(s): Marathon, Half Marathon

Medal Records:

  • Olympic Games: 2008 Beijing Marathon (Gold)
  • World Marathon Majors: 2010 Chicago Marathon (Gold), 2009 Chicago Marathon (Gold), 2009 London Marathon (Gold), 2008 London Marathon (Silver)

 

Personal Best Time: 5000 m: 13:12.40 (Hiroshima 2005), 10,000 m: 26:41.75 (Brussels 2005), Half marathon: 58:33 (The Hague 2007), Marathon: 2:05:10 (London 2009)

 

The late Samuel Wanjiru was a Kenyan long-distance runner who grew his running skills after transferring to Sendai, Japan. He had won a school cross country race in his native Kenya home. Wanjiru excelled in major cross country championships, including setting a junior record in the 10,000 meters track event at the Van Damme Memorial.

 

In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Wanjiru became the first Kenyan to secure gold in the marathon. And since he was only 18 years, he also became the youngest gold medalist in 1932. His other notable wins include the 2009 London and Chicago marathons. Still, Wanjiru had to withdraw from competitions the following year due to a knee problem.

Did You Know?

In 2010, while still struggling with a knee problem, Wanjiru was arrested from his Kenyan home for illegal possession of an AK-47 auto assault weapon and allegedly threatening to kill his wife. In May the following year, Wanjiru jumped to his death from the balcony of his Kenyan home. His apparent suicide was after his wife discovered him in bed with another woman.

 

17.  Moses Mosop

Moses Mosop

Quick Statistics

Born: 7 July 1985, Marakwet Kenya

Age When She Started Competing: 17

Sport Event(s): Middle and Long Distance Running

 

Medal Records:

World Championships: 2005 Helsinki 10,000 m (Bronze)

World Cross Country Championships: 2007 Mombasa Team (Gold), 2009 Amman Team (Gold), 2007 Mombasa Individual (Silver)

 

Personal Best Time: 5000 m 12:54.46 Saint-Denis, France 2006, 10,000 m 26:49.55 Hengelo, Netherlands 2007,Half marathon 59:20 Milan, Italy 2010, 25,000 m 1:12:25.4 WR Eugene, USA 2011, 30,000 m 1:26:47.4 WR           Eugene, USA 2011, Marathon 2:03:06 Boston, USA 2011, Marathon 2:05:03 Rotterdam, Netherlands 2012

 

Moses Mosop is a one-time World Championships bronze medalist, two-time World Cross Country gold medalist, one-time World Cross Country silver medalist, one-time Olympic Games finalist, and one-time World Championships finalist. He made his debut in competitive running when he qualified for the 2002 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Belfast. He would then be under Italian coach Renato Canova who would train him to his current international level.

Did You Know?

Mosop boasts of a half marathon winning streak in 2008, 2009, and 2010. He also won the 5000 meters twice in 2003.

 

18.  Stanley Kipleting Biwott

Stanley Kipleting Biwott

Quick Statistics

Born: 21 April 1986, Kapsabet Kenya

Age When She Started Competing: 24

Sport Event(s): Long Distance Running

 

Medal Records: Marathons: 2010 São Paulo International Marathon (Gold), 2010 Reims Marathon (Silver), 2011 Chuncheon Marathon (Gold), 2012 Paris Marathon (Gold), 2012 Shanghai Marathon ( Bronze), 2014 Londong Marathon (Silver), 2015 New York City Marathon (Gold), 2016 London Marathon (Silver)

Personal Best Time: 10 Kilometres 28:00 Cape Elizabeth, ME (USA) 2012, 15 Kilometres               44:31 São Paulo (BRA) 2015, Half Marathon 58:56 Ras Al Khaimah (UAE)  2013, 30 Kilometres  1:27:13 London (GBR) 2016, Marathon 2:03:51 London (GBR) 2016

 

Stanley Biwott is a long-distance runner and the 30 km road world record holder. Also, he participated in full marathons, clocking 2:11:19 in the 2010 São Paulo International Marathon, the fastest time ever recorded on South American soil. And his best performance on full marathons was during the 2016 London Marathon, where he attained a personal best of 2:03:51.

Did You Know?

Biwott began his sporting career by working as a pacemaker at the Roma-Ostia Half Marathon. Here, he worked on his half-marathon personal best, improving it from 1:01:20 to 1:00:23. Later, Biwott attained his shortest personal best of 58:56 in 2013 at the Ras Al Khaimah (UAE).

 

19.  Dennis Kipruto Kimetto

Dennis Kipruto Kimetto

Quick Statistics

Born: 22 January 1984, Eldoret Kenya

Age When She Started Competing: 27

Sport Event(s): Long Distance Running

 

Medal Records: Marathons – 2011 Nairobi Half Marathon (Gold), 2011 RAK Half Marathon (Gold), 2012 Berlin Half Marathon (Gold), 2012 BIG 25 Berlin (Gold), 2012 Berlin Marathon (Silver), 2013 Tokyo Marathon (Gold), 2013 Chicago Marathon (Gold), 2014 Berlin Marathon (Gold), 2015 London Marathon (Bronze)

 

Personal Best Time: 10,000 Meters 28:30.0 Nairobi (KEN) 2011, 15 Kilometers 45:13 Heerenberg (NED) 2012, 10 Miles Road  47:32 Schortens (GER) 2013, Half Marathon 59:14 Berlin (GER) 2012, 25 Kilometers 1:11:18               Berlin (GER) 2012, Marathon 2:02:57 Berlin (GER) 2014         

 

Dennis Kipruto Kimetto is a long-distance runner and the former men’s marathon world record holder, having attained it at a time of 2:02:57 in 2014 Berlin. He held the title until 2018 when Eliud Kipchoge broke it with a time of 2:01:39.

 

Kimetto grew up in a village in Kapngetuny, Kenya. His father was a subsistence farmer who struggled to fend for his family of seven children. In turn, Kimetto had to work on farms instead of attending school. Often, he would see Paul Tergat race against his rival Haile Gebrselassie on television. It is here that Kimetto found inspiration to start competing.

Did You Know?

At one time, Kimetto’s age was misreported as ten years younger. Hence, his personal best of 59:14 in Berlin had erroneously been considered a world junior best record. The anomaly was rectified in later competitions.

 

20.  Leonard Patrick Komon

Leonard Patrick Komon

Quick Statistics

Born: 10 January 1988, Mt. Elgon Kenya

Age When She Started Competing: 18

Sport Event(s): Long Distance Running

Medal Records: World Cross Country Championships: 2006 Japan (Silver), 2008 Edinburgh (Gold), 2009 Amman (Gold), 2010 Bydgoszcz (Gold)

 

Personal Best Time: 3000 meters – 7:33.27 min (2009), Two miles – 8:22.57 min (2007), 5000 meters – 12:58.24 min (2006), 10,000 meters – 26:55.29 min (2011), 10K – 26:44 min (2010), 15K – 41:13 min (2010), Half Marathon 59:14 (2014) (fastest debut half marathon in history)

 

Leonard Patrick Komon is a two-time World Cross Country Championships silver medalist and a world record holder for men’s 10 and 15 kilometers road races. He had a humbling upbringing characterized by dropping out of high school due to school fees. More so, he was inspired to join competitive running by listening to the exploits of other world record breakers like Tegla Loroupe, Paul Tergat, and Vivian Cheruiyot on the radio.

Did You Know?

In 2011, Komon set a world record in the UAE Healthy Kidney 10-K race. He had clocked 27:35. The event does not invite elite female runners due to its proximity to the New York Mini 10K women’s race.

 

Conclusion

Kenyan athletes dominate marathons and middle and long-distance races (track and field). Sports Brief magazine reports the richest Kenyan athletes earned $31.7 million in their four decades of reign. And, with promising athletes like Hellen Obiri and Judith Jeptum still breaking and setting world records, the Kenyan flag is there to stay. 

 

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