Series08 Aug 2016

First impressions – Eliud Kipchoge


Eliud Kipchoge in action at the 2012 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships (© Getty Images)

Kenyan marathon maestro Eliud Kipchoge advanced to second on the all-time lists after his 2:03:05 victory in the London Marathon in April and at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games he will aim to add to the bronze and silver medals he has won over 5000m on the track in previous Games.

In the latest instalment of our First Impressions series, Kipchoge divulges some engaging thoughts about some of the first things in his life. 

First sport

I have only ever done athletics. I was only average at school and I have never done any other sport.

First competition

My first race was in October 2001 in Kapsabet, Kenya. It was a 10km road race. I was excited and I was happy to know I am good in running.

First coach

My first coach was Patrick Sang and he has remained my coach for my entire athletics career. Patrick Sang is more than a running coach, he is a life coach, business coach and sport coach; that’s what makes him such a special coach in my eyes. His best piece of advice is, "the best competitor is yourself.”

First media interview

I don’t remember who interviewed me, but I recall my first interview was in Eldoret, when I lost the jackpot for the cross country series in Kenya.

First competition outside of Kenya

My first competition outside Kenya was at the 2002 world cross country championships in Dublin, Ireland. I finished fifth in the junior race that day but the thing I remember the most was that it was very cold.

First international medal

My first international medal came in the junior race at the 2003 world cross country championships in Lausanne, when I won gold. It was a great feeling, I was very proud to be crowned champion. (Later that year, aged just 18, he secured the world 5000m title in Paris.)

First athletics disappointment

That came at the 2005 world cross country championships in France. With just 20 metres to go, I was in third but I faded to fifth (in a race won by Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele). I had lost my shoe and I was really disappointed. It took some time to get over the blow.

First toy

I was not so lucky to grow up with toys as I grew up in a remote area of Kenya.

First pet

I remember we had a dog and his name was Simba (which means lion). I remember he was really brave and could fight the other dogs.

First thing learned how to cook

It was ugali (a staple Kenyan maize dish) and my mother taught me how to cook it when I was aged around 12 years old. I can now cook good ugali.

First car

My first car was actually a truck, a Toyota, I bought it in Eldoret in 2004 and I drove this car for two years before selling it two years later. It was a really reliable car.

Steve Landells for the IAAF