Athlete Profile

Charles Waweru Kamathi

  • COUNTRY Kenya Kenya
  • DATE OF BIRTH 18 MAY 1978
10000m Final - Charles Kamathi (© Allsport)
10000m Final - Charles Kamathi (© Allsport)
  • COUNTRY Kenya Kenya
  • DATE OF BIRTH 18 MAY 1978


Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.


Charles Waweru KAMATHI (kahthee), Kenya (5000/10,000m)

Born 18 May 1978, Mathari (suburb of Nyeri), Nyeri District, Central Province, Kenya

Police corporal. Lives mainly in Nyahururu and Ngong. Based in Columbaro, Italy, during track season.

Manager: Federico Rosa.  Coach: Gabriele Rosa

1.65m/51 kg. Native language: Kikuyu. Fifth of nine children. Widowed mother a coffee plantation worker.

Finished Njogu-Ini Sec. Sch. 1996. Joined Kenya Police 1998. Promoted to corporal 2001.

Began running in third year of secondary school (1995). Finished 6th at 5000m in Kenya schools nationals. The following year he was 26th in national schools cross country and 7th in 5000. Spotted by local coach David Miano, who has arranged for many athletes from the Nyeri area to run in Japan for company or university teams. Kamathi was sent to Japan to run for Toyota in April, 1997. Developed tendonitis and sent home after 10 days. Replaced by fellow Nyeri athlete Simon Maina, who became Commonwealth 10,000 champion 17 months later.

Trained alone for a year, competing in open meets and national championships with modest success. Joined Police as an athlete. After basic training, took 1st in 10,000 (29:26) and 2nd in 5000 in 1999 Police Championships, then 9th at 5000 (13:42) in nationals. Selected by federation to join group of Kenyans traveling to India for four races. On return, approached by talent-spotter John Mwai, representing Lebanese-born American manager Hussein Makke. Police permitted Kamathi to join Makke athletes training at 2,700 meters altitude in Kinangop. Most were preparing for US road races; Kamathi insisted on track. Makke set up late-season (1999) race: 10,000m at Van Damme Golden League meet in Brussels.

Sensational European debut in Brussels, winning in 26:51.49, fastest in 1999. Followed up with 13:05.29 5000 m in Berlin four days later. The next winter he edged five-time World Champion Paul Tergat in three European cross country races but slipped to 13th in Kenya’s World Cross trials. Controversially included in Kenya team, finished 7th at World Cross in Vilamoura.

Hamstring injury in May ruined most of 2000 season, limited to a few US road and European track races and a DNF in 5000m in Kenyan Olympic trials. After two months' rest and a change of management, 2001 began promisingly with bronze medal in the World Cross (top Kenyan in 12K) and ended spectacularly with last-lap victory over Haile Gebrselassie in 10,000m (27:53.25) at Edmonton World Championships.

Injuries persisted in 2002. After a creditable 5th in the Dublin World Cross and a two-second loss in his half-marathon debut at Stramilano (60:22), he struggled in the World Half-Marathon Championships three weeks later (9th in 62:01) and raced hardly at all until the autumn. In 2003, he was forced to drop out of Kenya's World Cross trials in the last kilometer, but had recovered enough by June to record 13:15.33 for 5000 in Ostrava Super GP. He confirmed his fitness at 10,000 with an easy 27:29.12 in Portugal just before the Kenya World Championships trials, in which, having been assured of his defending champion’s wild-card berth on the team, he cruised through 5000 in 13:30.8. In Paris, he held on courageously to the Ethiopian juggernaut well past the half-way point of the World Championship 10,000 before fading to 7th (27:45.05).

The 2004 World Cross in Brussels saw Kamathi in a similar predicament, hanging on for 5th place in the 12 km as a trio of Ethiopians powered away to a medal sweep. Kamathi and his fellow Kenyans in the Athens Olympic 10,000m (Moses Mosop and John Cheruiyot Korir) were determined to prevent a repeat of Paris or Brussels, but they succeeded only because Haile fell off his teammates’ pace and finished 5th. Kamathi, apparently suffering from the heat (he made no mention of injury), stayed with the leaders through half the race then faded badly to finish 13th (28:17.08). He recovered quickly from whatever ailed him, however, running a season’s best (lifetime second-best) 26:59.93 for 2nd at the Brussels GL two weeks later. Nine days after that came another badly off-form performance in the Berlin GL 5000 (13:35.09 for 13th), then a perfunctory 13:15.02 for 7th at the World Athletic Final.

Kamathi’s solid 4th over the 12 km distance at Kenya’s 2005 World Cross Trials seems to indicate a return to form. His coaches an teammates think so—they chose him captain for St. Etienne/St. Galmier. His job now, in addition to his own performance, is to see that the team recaptures the title Kenya hadn’t lost for 18 years until the 2004 debacle.

Yearly progression 5000/10,000:  1999 - 13:05.29/ 26:51.49;  2000 - 13:23.24;  2001 - 13:05.16/ 27:22.58;  2002 - 13:02.51/28:20.98;  2003 - 13:15.33/27:29.12;  2004 – 13:11.41 (Zurich GL)/ 26:59.93 (Brussels GL).
---------------
A modest, soft-spoken young man, Charles Kamathi keeps finding himself in the midst of sensation and controversy. His debut in major international competition, in the 10,000 at the 1999 Van Damme Memorial, was as spectacular as any in the recent history of the sport—the year's fastest time from a complete unknown whose previous best, run at altitude, was more than two minutes slower, and who was initially allowed to enter the race only as a pacemaker.

Six months later he was at the center of a dispute between Kenya's athletes and team management at the World Cross Country Championships in Vilamoura. Management had brought seven runners for the 12K men's race in the vain hope that either defending champion Paul Tergat or Cross Challenge leader Kamathi would be granted a wild card entry. When informed that only six could run, the team managers dropped Joshua Chelanga, who had finished five places ahead of Kamathi in Kenya's trials, and they did so without the customary consultation with team members. Deeply offended, the athletes threatened not to run until persuaded by Tergat in discussions that lasted all night long before the race. Exhausted, demoralized and without a race plan, the Kenyans managed to retain their team title, but Tergat, going for an unprecedented sixth straight individual gold, was beaten on the home straight by Mohammed Mourhit of Belgium, whom Kamathi had pulled to a European 10,000 m record in Brussels. Said the bewildered young Kenyan, who finished 7th, "I just found myself in the middle of things, and I can't even explain.”

The next year, in Edmonton, Kamathi did what no one had been able to do for eight years: he beat Haile Gebrselassie over 10,000m. And he did it in a fashion worthy of the great Ethiopian himself—with blazing acceleration on  the last lap. Kamathi's final 200 was unofficially clocked at 26 seconds. This time the voracious media attention brought a curious and welcome consequence. An Edmonton dentist noticed the victorious Kenyan was missing a front tooth and offered to fill the gap for free with sophisticated bridgework.

In 2004 Kamathi won Kenya’s National Championships at 5000m and a week later finished 3rd at 10,000m in the Olympic trials. Selection was guaranteed, however, only for the first two placers. Kamathi and Nicholas Kemboi, last year’s second best at 10,000 (26:30.03, then #3 All-Time), who had been ill during the trials, were to face off for the third spot on the team by racing in the 10,000 at July’s African Championships. Kamathi went to steamy Brazzaville and won with a sterling 28:07.83 in a tactical race, but Kemboi begged off because of illness. Kamathi, feeling somewhat aggrieved (but enjoying vigorous support in Nairobi’s sports pages), had to wait two more weeks before he was finally selected. Oddly enough, this year, when Athletics Kenya chose to name the teams for the World Cross more than two weeks before the competition, it was Kamathi who raised objections, saying the runners at Kenya’s training camp should be competing for places right up to the end.

Prepared by John Manners for the IAAF "Focus on Africans" project. © IAAF 2002-05.

Personal Best - Outdoor
Performance Wind Place Date
3000 Metres 7:41.89 Torino 06 JUN 2003
5000 Metres 13:02.51 Zürich 16 AUG 2002
10,000 Metres 26:51.49 Bruxelles 03 SEP 1999
10 Kilometres 28:08 Zaandam 20 SEP 2009
15 Kilometres 42:04 Zaandam 22 SEP 2002
20 Kilometres 58:51 Berlin 28 SEP 2008
Half Marathon 1:00:22 Milano 13 APR 2002
25 Kilometres 1:13:41 Berlin 28 SEP 2008
30 Kilometres 1:28:27 Berlin 28 SEP 2008
Marathon 2:07:33 Rotterdam 13 APR 2008
10 Miles Road 46:05 Zaandam 23 SEP 2001
Progression - Outdoor showShow All Graphs
3000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2005 7:43.83 Madrid 16 JUL
2003 7:41.89 Torino 06 JUN
2000 7:43.50 Helsinki 15 JUN
5000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2007 13:36.5 Nairobi 27 MAY
2006 13:22.48 Oita 01 OCT
2005 13:11.98 Hiroshima 29 APR
2004 13:11.41 Zürich 06 AUG
2003 13:15.33 Ostrava 12 JUN
2002 13:02.51 Zürich 16 AUG
2001 13:05.16 Roma (Stadio Olimpico) 29 JUN
2000 13:23.24 Bratislava 22 JUN
1999 13:05.29 Berlin 07 SEP
10,000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2007 27:36.12 Kumagaya 19 MAY
2005 27:28.35 Kobe 24 APR
2004 26:59.93 Bruxelles 03 SEP
2003 27:29.12 Pontevedra 20 JUL
2002 28:20.64 Nairobi 22 JUN
2001 27:22.58 Hengelo 04 JUN
1999 26:51.49 Bruxelles 03 SEP
10 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2009 28:08 Zaandam 20 SEP
15 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2009 42:20 Zaandam 20 SEP
2002 42:04 Zaandam 22 SEP
20 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2008 58:51 Berlin 28 SEP
Half Marathon Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2012 1:02:18 Verbania 11 MAR
2008 1:00:45 Lisboa 16 MAR
2006 1:01:17 Udine 24 SEP
2004 1:02:53 Lisboa 26 SEP
2002 1:00:22 Milano 13 APR
25 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2008 1:13:41 Berlin 28 SEP
30 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2008 1:28:27 Berlin 28 SEP
Marathon Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2010 2:07:38 Eindhoven 10 OCT
2008 2:07:33 Rotterdam 13 APR
2007 2:11:25 Milano 02 DEC
10 Miles Road Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2001 46:05 Zaandam 23 SEP
Honours - 5000 Metres
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
2nd IAAF World Athletics Final 7 13:15.02 Monaco 19 SEP 2004
1st IAAF World Athletics Final 8 13:34.65 Monaco 14 SEP 2003
Honours - 10,000 Metres
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 12 27:37.82 Helsinki 08 AUG 2005
28th Olympic Games 13 28:17.08 Athína (Olympic Stadium) 20 AUG 2004
9th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 7 27:45.05 Paris Saint-Denis (Stade de France) 24 AUG 2003
8th IAAF World Championships 1 27:53.25 Edmonton 08 AUG 2001
Honours - Half Marathon
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
11th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships 9 1:02:01 Bruxelles 05 MAY 2002
Honours - Long Race
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
33rd IAAF World Cross Country Championships 10 36:03 Saint - Galmier 20 MAR 2005
32nd IAAF World Cross Country Championships 5 36:36 Bruxelles 21 MAR 2004
30th IAAF/Sport Ireland World Cross Country Championships 5 35:29 Dublin 24 MAR 2002
IAAF World Cross Country Championships 3 40:05 Oostende 25 MAR 2001
28th World Cross Country Championships 7 35:51 Vilamoura 19 MAR 2000


Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.


Charles Waweru KAMATHI (kahthee), Kenya (5000/10,000m)

Born 18 May 1978, Mathari (suburb of Nyeri), Nyeri District, Central Province, Kenya

Police corporal. Lives mainly in Nyahururu and Ngong. Based in Columbaro, Italy, during track season.

Manager: Federico Rosa.  Coach: Gabriele Rosa

1.65m/51 kg. Native language: Kikuyu. Fifth of nine children. Widowed mother a coffee plantation worker.

Finished Njogu-Ini Sec. Sch. 1996. Joined Kenya Police 1998. Promoted to corporal 2001.

Began running in third year of secondary school (1995). Finished 6th at 5000m in Kenya schools nationals. The following year he was 26th in national schools cross country and 7th in 5000. Spotted by local coach David Miano, who has arranged for many athletes from the Nyeri area to run in Japan for company or university teams. Kamathi was sent to Japan to run for Toyota in April, 1997. Developed tendonitis and sent home after 10 days. Replaced by fellow Nyeri athlete Simon Maina, who became Commonwealth 10,000 champion 17 months later.

Trained alone for a year, competing in open meets and national championships with modest success. Joined Police as an athlete. After basic training, took 1st in 10,000 (29:26) and 2nd in 5000 in 1999 Police Championships, then 9th at 5000 (13:42) in nationals. Selected by federation to join group of Kenyans traveling to India for four races. On return, approached by talent-spotter John Mwai, representing Lebanese-born American manager Hussein Makke. Police permitted Kamathi to join Makke athletes training at 2,700 meters altitude in Kinangop. Most were preparing for US road races; Kamathi insisted on track. Makke set up late-season (1999) race: 10,000m at Van Damme Golden League meet in Brussels.

Sensational European debut in Brussels, winning in 26:51.49, fastest in 1999. Followed up with 13:05.29 5000 m in Berlin four days later. The next winter he edged five-time World Champion Paul Tergat in three European cross country races but slipped to 13th in Kenya’s World Cross trials. Controversially included in Kenya team, finished 7th at World Cross in Vilamoura.

Hamstring injury in May ruined most of 2000 season, limited to a few US road and European track races and a DNF in 5000m in Kenyan Olympic trials. After two months' rest and a change of management, 2001 began promisingly with bronze medal in the World Cross (top Kenyan in 12K) and ended spectacularly with last-lap victory over Haile Gebrselassie in 10,000m (27:53.25) at Edmonton World Championships.

Injuries persisted in 2002. After a creditable 5th in the Dublin World Cross and a two-second loss in his half-marathon debut at Stramilano (60:22), he struggled in the World Half-Marathon Championships three weeks later (9th in 62:01) and raced hardly at all until the autumn. In 2003, he was forced to drop out of Kenya's World Cross trials in the last kilometer, but had recovered enough by June to record 13:15.33 for 5000 in Ostrava Super GP. He confirmed his fitness at 10,000 with an easy 27:29.12 in Portugal just before the Kenya World Championships trials, in which, having been assured of his defending champion’s wild-card berth on the team, he cruised through 5000 in 13:30.8. In Paris, he held on courageously to the Ethiopian juggernaut well past the half-way point of the World Championship 10,000 before fading to 7th (27:45.05).

The 2004 World Cross in Brussels saw Kamathi in a similar predicament, hanging on for 5th place in the 12 km as a trio of Ethiopians powered away to a medal sweep. Kamathi and his fellow Kenyans in the Athens Olympic 10,000m (Moses Mosop and John Cheruiyot Korir) were determined to prevent a repeat of Paris or Brussels, but they succeeded only because Haile fell off his teammates’ pace and finished 5th. Kamathi, apparently suffering from the heat (he made no mention of injury), stayed with the leaders through half the race then faded badly to finish 13th (28:17.08). He recovered quickly from whatever ailed him, however, running a season’s best (lifetime second-best) 26:59.93 for 2nd at the Brussels GL two weeks later. Nine days after that came another badly off-form performance in the Berlin GL 5000 (13:35.09 for 13th), then a perfunctory 13:15.02 for 7th at the World Athletic Final.

Kamathi’s solid 4th over the 12 km distance at Kenya’s 2005 World Cross Trials seems to indicate a return to form. His coaches an teammates think so—they chose him captain for St. Etienne/St. Galmier. His job now, in addition to his own performance, is to see that the team recaptures the title Kenya hadn’t lost for 18 years until the 2004 debacle.

Yearly progression 5000/10,000:  1999 - 13:05.29/ 26:51.49;  2000 - 13:23.24;  2001 - 13:05.16/ 27:22.58;  2002 - 13:02.51/28:20.98;  2003 - 13:15.33/27:29.12;  2004 – 13:11.41 (Zurich GL)/ 26:59.93 (Brussels GL).
---------------
A modest, soft-spoken young man, Charles Kamathi keeps finding himself in the midst of sensation and controversy. His debut in major international competition, in the 10,000 at the 1999 Van Damme Memorial, was as spectacular as any in the recent history of the sport—the year's fastest time from a complete unknown whose previous best, run at altitude, was more than two minutes slower, and who was initially allowed to enter the race only as a pacemaker.

Six months later he was at the center of a dispute between Kenya's athletes and team management at the World Cross Country Championships in Vilamoura. Management had brought seven runners for the 12K men's race in the vain hope that either defending champion Paul Tergat or Cross Challenge leader Kamathi would be granted a wild card entry. When informed that only six could run, the team managers dropped Joshua Chelanga, who had finished five places ahead of Kamathi in Kenya's trials, and they did so without the customary consultation with team members. Deeply offended, the athletes threatened not to run until persuaded by Tergat in discussions that lasted all night long before the race. Exhausted, demoralized and without a race plan, the Kenyans managed to retain their team title, but Tergat, going for an unprecedented sixth straight individual gold, was beaten on the home straight by Mohammed Mourhit of Belgium, whom Kamathi had pulled to a European 10,000 m record in Brussels. Said the bewildered young Kenyan, who finished 7th, "I just found myself in the middle of things, and I can't even explain.”

The next year, in Edmonton, Kamathi did what no one had been able to do for eight years: he beat Haile Gebrselassie over 10,000m. And he did it in a fashion worthy of the great Ethiopian himself—with blazing acceleration on  the last lap. Kamathi's final 200 was unofficially clocked at 26 seconds. This time the voracious media attention brought a curious and welcome consequence. An Edmonton dentist noticed the victorious Kenyan was missing a front tooth and offered to fill the gap for free with sophisticated bridgework.

In 2004 Kamathi won Kenya’s National Championships at 5000m and a week later finished 3rd at 10,000m in the Olympic trials. Selection was guaranteed, however, only for the first two placers. Kamathi and Nicholas Kemboi, last year’s second best at 10,000 (26:30.03, then #3 All-Time), who had been ill during the trials, were to face off for the third spot on the team by racing in the 10,000 at July’s African Championships. Kamathi went to steamy Brazzaville and won with a sterling 28:07.83 in a tactical race, but Kemboi begged off because of illness. Kamathi, feeling somewhat aggrieved (but enjoying vigorous support in Nairobi’s sports pages), had to wait two more weeks before he was finally selected. Oddly enough, this year, when Athletics Kenya chose to name the teams for the World Cross more than two weeks before the competition, it was Kamathi who raised objections, saying the runners at Kenya’s training camp should be competing for places right up to the end.

Prepared by John Manners for the IAAF "Focus on Africans" project. © IAAF 2002-05.