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Thank you for making us proud

ATHLETICS By Stephen Rutto | August 9th 2021
Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge celebrates after winning gold medal in men's marathon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, yesterday morning. [Reuters]

Their exploits helped Kenya emerge tops in Africa and third in the world behind USA and Italy in the athletics category at the just concluded Tokyo Olympic Games.

The Kenyan contingent brought home 10 medals comprising four gold, four silver and two bronze medals.

Here are the athletes who put Kenya on the global map in Tokyo.

Eliud Kipchoge, 36

DOB: November 5, 1984

Place of birth: Kapsisiywa, Nandi County

Medal: Gold in men’s marathon

PB: 2:01:39, Berlin Marathon 2018

Kipchoge is the world marathon record holder, having set the 2:01:39 mark at the Berlin Marathon in 2018.

He stormed to a stunning victory at the Tokyo Olympics men’s marathon in a time of 2:08:38, successfully defending his Rio 2016 title and becoming the third man in history to clinch back to back titles in Olympic Games after Abebe Bikila in 1960 and 1964, and Waldemar Cierpinski in 1976 and 1980.

Since 2013, Kipchoge has run 15 marathons and has lost only two road races. He has won the Berlin marathon three times and held London marathon titles four times.

Women marathon gold medallist Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya celebrates on the podium. [Reuters]

Peres Jepchirchir, 27

DOB: September 27, 1993

Place of birth: Turbo, Uasin Gishu County

Medal: Gold in women’s marathon

PB: 2:17:16 - Valencia Marathon 2020

Jepchirchir is the women-only world 21km record holder. She sensationally won gold at the Tokyo Olympics women’s marathon in a season best of 2:27:20.

She ran track while studying at Kosirai Girls High School in Nandi and was inspired by the achievements of Mary Keitany, who was a world half marathon champion at the time.

And after high school, Jepchirchir picked up road racing unlike many athletes who stay on the track for years before transitioning to the marathon.

Her mother passed away when she was only two years old. As a child, Peres was interested in running, however it was her brother who inspired her to start training professionally.

She set the half marathon of 1:05:06 in February 2017 in UAE and broke her own world record at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland in 2020, finishing in 1:05:16.

August 6, 2021. Gold medallist Faith Kipyegon of Kenya on the podium. REUTERS

Faith Kipyegon, 27

DOB: January 10, 1994

Place of birth: Bomet

Medal: Gold in women’s 1500m

PB: 3:51.07, Monaco Diamond League 2021

Kipyegon successfully defended her Rio Olympics title in Tokyo, setting a new Olympic record of 3:53.11 in the finals.

In 2017, after the Olympic glory, she earned the Diamond League 1500m title, winning three races in Shanghai, Eugene, and Brussels.

Kipyegon, who marginally fell short of breaking the world 1000m record on two occasions, gave birth to her first child in 2018, before returning in 2019 to win a silver medal at the World Championships, where she set the national record of 3:54.22.

In 2021, she bettered her national record twice at the Diamond League meetings.

On June 10, Kipyegon ran 3:53.91 at the Rome Golden Gala meet, finishing a second just behind Sifan Hassan, who timed 3:53.63. On July 9, in Monaco, Kipyegon stopped the clock at a world-leading time of 3:51.07 which is the fourth fastest time in history – outsprinting Hassan in the home straight.

Abel Kipsang, of Kenya, competes in a heat of the men's 1,500-meters at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP)

Emmanuel Korir, 26

DOB: June 15, 1995

Place of birth: Nandi

Medal: Gold in 800m

PB: 1:42.05

Korir, a former student of Kimuron secondary school in Elgeyo Marakwet County, just like world 800m record holder David Rudisha, was the surprise gold medallist at the Tokyo Olympics.

Korir won the two-lap race with a time of 1:45.06.

After high school went to the USA after bagging a scholarship and while there he was coached by University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) tactician Paul Ereng.

Just like his coach (Ereng) Korir began his career in the 400m before graduating to 800m. Both are Kenyans who went to the US for college.

August 8, 2021. Silver medallist Brigid Kosgei of Kenya celebrates on the podium REUTERS

Brigid Kosgei, 27  

DOB: February 20, 1994

Place of birth: Marakwet West

Medal: Silver

PB: 2:14:04

She is the women’s marathon world record holder, a feat she acquired at the 2019 edition of Chicago marathon where she ran 2:14:04.

Kosgei won silver at the Tokyo Olympic Games in a time of 2:27:36.

The athlete, who trains under former marathoner Erick Kimaiyo, was one of seven children raised by a single mother.

From her high altitude training base in Kapsait at the border of Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot counties, Brigid spent months preparing for the Olympic Games.

She dropped out of secondary school in 2012 after raising school fees became a challenge for her mother.

The 2020 season denied her more marathon races save for London where she saved Kenyan fans the blushes after Kipchoge failed to lead the tempo in the men’s category.

Silver medalist Timothy Cheruiyot, of Kenya, poses on the podium during he medal ceremony for the men's 1,500-meters at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP)

Timothy Cheruiyot, 25

DOB: November 20, 1995

Place of birth: Singorwet village, Bomet County

Medal: Silver in men’s 1500m

PB: 3:28.28, Monaco Diamond League 2021

He secured a silver medal for Kenya in Tokyo. The 1500m star delivered his first world championship gold medal in Doha, Qatar in 2019 in a 3:29:26 finish after settling for silver in 2017.

He has also won the 1500 m Diamond League three times in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

He is among athletes expected to electrify the athletics realm this season.

August 5, 2021. Silver medallist, Ferguson Rotich of Kenya poses on the podium REUTERS

Ferguson Rotich, 30,

DOB: November 30, 1989

Place of birth: Kericho

Medal: Silver in 800m

PB: 1:42.54

He won the silver medal, finishing behind Emmanuel Korir at the Tokyo Olympics.

He represented the country at the 2013 World Championships and was a gold medallist in the 4×800m relay at the 2014 World Relays.

At the 2015 Athletics Kenya World Championship trials, Rotich shocked world record holder David Rudisha in the 800 metres beating him by almost half a second to qualify for the 2015 World Championships in Athletics.

Hellen Obiri, 31

DOB: December 13, 1989

Place of birth: Kisii

Medal: Silver in women’s 5000m

She braved the brutal conditions in Tokyo to settle on a silver medal.

Obiri was also the silver medallist at the 2016 Summer Olympics over 5000m.

She clinched the 5000m title at the Monaco Diamond League before ending her stellar 2020 season with a sensational 3000m win in Doha. Obiri was cited as one of the top 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine in 2017. With her imperious finishing kicks, Obiri bagged a World title in 2019. She is a corporal at the Kenya Air Force.

August 4, 2021. Hyvin Kiyeng of Kenya in action REUTERS

Hyvin Kiyeng, 29

DOB: January 13, 1992

Place of birth: Elgeyo Marakwet

Medal: Bronze

PB: 9:00.01

She clocked 9:05.39 to win the bronze medal for Kenya in Tokyo finishing behind Peruth Chemutai of Uganda.

At the 2016 Summer Olympics, she won a silver medal with a time of 9:07.12. She won gold at the 2015 World Championships and at the 2011 All-Africa Games.

Kiyeng later secured a bronze at the 2017 World Championships. She was the 2012 African Championships gold medallist. As of August 2021, her personal best time of 9:00.01 ranks her sixth on the world all-time list.

Benjamin Kigen, 29

DOB: July 5, 1993

Place of birth: Baringo

Medal: Bronze in men’s 3000m steeplechase

PB: 8:05.12

He won the bronze medal in the 3000 m steeplechase event.

Kigen won the 3000m steeplechase at the 2018 Prefontaine Classic, beating reigning world champion Conseslus Kipruto and Olympic silver medalist Evan Jager with a 57.89 second last lap.

He won a gold medal at the 2019 African games. He trains with former world under 20 3000m steeplechase champion Amos Kirui under coach Isaac Rono.

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