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Sammy KIPKETER Cheruiyot, Kenya (5000/10,000, cross country)
Born 29 September 1981, Rokocho, nr. Kaptarakwa, Keiyo Dist., Rift Valley Prov., Kenya.
Lives mainly in Nairobi and in Merewit, Uasin Gishu District.
Finished Lelboinet Secondary School 1998. Army private, enlisted 2001.
Manager: KIMbia (Tom Ratcliffe). Coach: Dieter Hogen.
Native language: Keiyo (Kalenjin). Fourth of six children. Father a farmer with five acres.
Began running casually in primary school. Discovered talent on moving up secondary, where he had to run to escape harassment by older boys. Finished 4th at 5000m in 1997 schools nationals, 17th in 1998 junior World Cross trials. Trained in earnest after leaving school in late 1998; 2nd in 1999 junior World Cross trials, then 6th in Belfast World Cross.
Signed by KIM after 1999 World Cross trials. Immediately embarked on busy competitive schedule, mainly on track, including Grand Prix final and six of seven Golden League meets, where he recorded five top-5 finishes and the third best all-time junior mark at 5000m (12:58.10 in Oslo GL), plus two marks under the listed World Junior Record at 3000m (7:35.08 in Paris GL; 7:34.58 in Brussels GL).
Began 2000 with two wins on European cross circuit and a silver medal just behind a determined John Kibowen in senior 4 km race at World Cross in Vilamoura. A week later, obliterated eight-year-old 5 km road best in Carlsbad, California (13:00, down from William Mutwol's 13:12, also set in Carlsbad). Missed qualifying for Sydney Olympic team by 0.6 seconds in wait-and-kick Kenya trials 5000 final, but again distinguished himself on Grand Prix circuit, with seven top-3 finishes and a PR 12:54.07 at 5000 (then ranking him 9th all-time). Track & Field News put him at #2 at 5000 in its annual rankings.
On successive weekends in spring 2001, just missed medaling (4th) in muddy Ostend in World Cross 4 km race, equaled own world road best winning Carlsbad 5 km and set new world road best at 10 km (27:18) in Brunssum, Netherlands. Second at 5000 in Kenyan World Championship trials. Ensured fast pace in Edmonton WC final by leading much of race, but faded in closing stages; crossed line 7th (later 6th after Saidi Sief doping DQ). Enlisted in Kenya Army on return from Edmonton.
Emerged from Army basic training in time for 2002 Armed Forces Cross Country; won 4 km race and repeated victory in Kenyan World Cross trials. Finished 4th at 4 km in Dublin World Cross. A week later improved own 10 km world road best (27:11) in New Orleans), then won Carlsbad 5 km the next week (13:17). At African Military Ch. in Nairobi, won 5000, 2nd in 10,000. Busy Grand Prix season interrupted by Commonwealth Games trials in Nairobi (3rd, 5000) and Games in Manchester, where he collected first big international gold medal (13:13.51). Won Zurich GL 5000 in year's second-fastest time (12:56.99) and clocked fastest 10.000 in four years (26:49.38, then ranking him #5 all-time) in Brussels in his first big race at the distance (also pulling four others under 27:00 for the best mass finish up to that time). Ranked #1 in 10,000, #2 in 5000 and #5 in 3000 by T&FN, a display of range bettered only by Haile Gebrselassie in recent years..
Moved up in distance for 2003 cross country season, winning Armed Forces 12 km then fading to 4th in Kenya's World Cross trials after pushing the pace a little too hard on hot day. At the Lausanne World Cross, it was not Kipketer’s day—14th at 12 km, the last Kenyan. He returned to his accustomed 5000 for the GP season, finishing just .07 seconds behind Kenenisa Bekele in a PB 12:52.33 in Oslo, his first European outing. He went under 13 minutes again in London and did not finish lower than 4th in his five GP 5000s. Back home for the World Championships trials, he finished 4th in the loaded 5000 and declined a tentative offer of a place on the 10,000 team. He closed his European season with a lackluster 6th at 10,000 in Brussels (27:13.42), but he was obliged to run twice more that autumn, at the All-African Games in Nigeria in October (6th in 28:03.51) and at the World Military Games in Italy in December (1st in 13:59.30).
Near the end of that long season, he developed a severe ankle/achilles problem that effectively curtailed his 2004 season. He rested, trained, ran a single track race (4th in the 10,000 in Brussels in 27:03.61) and then went to Boulder, Colorado, for treatment.
He gave every appearance of a full recovery in February in his first serious competition of 2005 at the Kenyan World Cross trials. Returning to his famiiliar 4 km distance, he cruised in a comfortable 2nd behind the aggressive lead of Isaac Songok. If the injury doesn’t recur, he could find himself on the podium in St. Etienne/St. Galmier.
Yearly progression, 3000/5000/10,000: 1999 - 7:34.58/ 12:58.10; 2000 - 7:35.72/ 12:54.07 (2nd Rome GL); 2001 - 7:33.62/ 12:59.34; 2002 - 7:35.91/ 12:56.99/ 26:49.38 (Brussels GL; 2002 world leader); 2003 - --/12:52.33 (2nd Oslo GL)/ 27:13.42;
2004 - --/--/27:03.61 (Brussels GL).
Other PBs: 5 km - 13:00 (2000 & 2001); 10 km - 27:11 (2002)
Sammy Kipketer has done very little road running, but what little he has done has been of very high quality. In five road outings over three years (2000-2002), he won five races and recorded four world road best times, two at 5 km in Carlsbad (both 13:00) and two at 10 km (April 2001, Brunssum, 27:18; March 2002, New Orleans, 27:11).
Kipketer, who began his international career at 17, was at first one of the many young Africans the press likes to characterize as "preferring to let their feet do the talking." He has since outgrown much of his shyness and is adapting eagerly to Western ways. He has built two modest, Western-style houses, one near his parents' home in Rokocho, the other on a 15-acre plot he bought in Merewit in the former "White Highlands." Both houses are equipped with the latest stereo gear, and the Merewit place has TV and video as well. An avid user of the web, Kipketer frequents internet cafes in Europe to check on developments in Kenya, and in Kenya to keep up with the wider world.
Prepared by John Manners for the IAAF "Focus on Africans" project. © 2003-05 IAAF.