Athlete Profile

Benjamin Kiplagat

  • COUNTRY Uganda Uganda
  • DATE OF BIRTH 4 MAR 1989
Benjamin Kiplagat (Getty Images)
Benjamin Kiplagat (Getty Images)
  • COUNTRY Uganda Uganda
  • DATE OF BIRTH 4 MAR 1989


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.


Updated 29 July 2011

Benjamin KIPLAGAT, Uganda (3000m Steeplechase, 1,500m-10,000m and Cross Country)

Born: 4 March 1989 in Magoro, Bukwo District

1.76 / 58kg

Manager: Jos Hermens 

When Benjamin Kiplagat suspended his education to concentrate on athletics in 2006, his parents thought he was insane. The second-born in a family of four (three boys and one girl), Kiplagat is now Uganda's best 3000m Steeplechase runner and his success on the track has won back his parents' hearts.

Born in Magoro village, Bukwo District, near the slopes of Mt. Elgon, Kiplagat never took running seriously, and never competed in any races, during his seven years at Bukwo Primary School (1997-2003). But when Boniface Kiprop, a village mate, won a 10,000m World Junior gold medal in 2004, Kiplagat had a change of mind. He had now joined Form One at Rubonge Secondary School, in Tororo District, eastern Uganda.

"We heard Kiprop's name on radio and saw his pictures in newspapers,” recalled Kiplagat, the 2008 3000m Steeplechase World Junior Championships silver medallist. “Most of us, including today's other runners, wanted to be like Kiprop. Personally, I was inspired by him to start running."

Kiplagat then started training, and took part in the 2004 National Primary Schools competition, finishing fifth in the 10,000m. "There was a coach at school called Opio, I forget his other name. He told me to change to 1500m. He trained me for about two months and I won the 1500m and 5000m during the 2005 National Post Primary Championships in Kabalore (western Uganda)," he recalled.

That year, Kiplagat made his first National Championships appearance, at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole. Before the championships, he had spent one month of his first term school holidays in residential training in Iten, Kenya, and competed at their youth championships, posting 5:41.10 in the 2000m Steeplechase. At Namboole, Kiplagat won the 3000m Steeplechase, with a personal best 8:39.1 (hand time) and finished second to Jimmy Adar in the 1500m.

Kiplagat’s second appearance was at the National Cross Country Championships (February 2006). Despite leading the junior race for long spells, he finished sixth in his first cross country appearance. His performance was good enough for a place in the national team for the World Cross Country Championships, in Fukuoka, Japan. "It was my first trip abroad (outside Africa),” he said. “I had never thought I would board a plane. I came back happy having competed with Kenenisa Bekele.” Kiplagat competed in the 4km short course, not the 8km junior race, finishing 50th.

"After that experience, I felt I needed to add in more effort in training,” Kiplagat said. “That's when I told my parents I would not join Senior Three. They were so furious, but I packed my bags, went to Iten, and left them fuming."

After three months in residential training, Kiplagat returned for regional trials, in Mbarara, but finished second behind Jimmy Adar in the 1500m. In the Nationals, he won the combined senior and junior 10,000m (29.03.1) on the grass track of Bugembe while his 13:49.7 in the 5000m placed him second behind Geofrey Kusuro, the two-time National cross-country champion and World Junior 10,000m fourth-placer.

Kiplagat qualified for the World Junior Championships, in Beijing, setting a new National junior record of 8:35.77 in the heats and lowered it to 8:34.14 en route to finishing sixth in the final.

With a lot of motivation, Kiplagat joined Bukwo Athletics camp to prepare for the 2007 National Cross Country Championships, but again finished sixth. Despite not doing well at national level, the lanky runner turned out to be Uganda's best performer at the Mombasa-hosted World Cross Country Championships, with an impressive fifth place in the junior race.

This was the turning point. "After that race I was approached by Global Sports Communications agents.” Kiplagat said. “They said they wanted to take me to Europe. I was excited but I referred them to my local manager Nuwagaba (Godfrey).” Before a deal could be reached, Pace Sports Management also came into the picture, taking him to compete in the Dakar Grand Prix, where he came sixth in a 3000m race.

"They took me to Germany where I won three consecutive races - 1500m (3:40.76), 5,000m (13:22.67) and Steeplechase (8:25.55)," said the runner, who remembers almost all his times since he started competing. He had, by now, signed a contract with Global, who took him to Slovenia, where he won and wrote a new National record of 8:21.73 (28 June 2007) in the 12th MinersFest EAA meeting in Velenje, to qualify for the World Championships, in Osaka. Kenyans Caleb Ngetich (8:29.02) and Hillary Kiprono (8:32.94) trailed the Ugandan in second and third place respectively.

With the All Africa Games, in Algiers, beckoning at this time (July 2007), Kiplagat was one of Uganda's medal hopefuls. But it was not to be. "I mistimed a jump with three laps to go and managed seventh position," he said. A few weeks later he was in Osaka for the World Championships but could not advance to the Final. He recorded 8:40.65. "It was too hot for me. I wasn't feeling well at all and my body somehow didn't respond,” he said.

In February 2008, Kiplagat came close to beating Kusuro in the National Cross Country but failed to break the jinx. He was second there, but outlasted all Ugandans by finishing fourth in the Junior race at the Edinburgh-hosted World Cross Country Championships, where Ethiopia’s Ibrahim Jeylan won the title.

Kiplagat lowered the National record to 8:16.06 as he finished fourth in the Qatar Grand Prix (9 May) before bettering it to 8:14.29 in the FBK Games, Hengelo. There he finished second behind Kenyan Richard Mateelong (8:13.00), but defeated World champion Brimin Kipruto.

At the World Junior Championships, in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Kiplagat recorded 8:19.24 to grab silver behind Kenyan Jonathan Ndiku (8:17.28) but was unhappy with his performance. "I was disappointed,” he said. “I went into the championship with the best time and was sure of getting gold. I just can't figure out what went wrong."

Having been inspired by another runner, Kiplagat is also playing a guiding role to his younger brothers, Dan Changwony and Vincent Kibet. He took them to the National Championships (27 July) and they cheered him on as he won the 3000m Steeplechase (8:28.8). They participated in the 5000m with Changwony (15:52.7) finishing seventh but his brother dropped out during the race. "They are not strong enough but can improve with good training,” Kiplagat said. “I just have to keep on encouraging them."

Kiplagat also revealed his dream was to help his parents Johnson Chemweno and Elizabeth Chemweno, out of biting poverty. “Thank God I am earning some money,” he said. “However little, I make sure I give the biggest part to my parents to help them in their farming activities and spend the rest on my training."

Riding high on confidence after the World Junior Championships, Kiplagat went to the August Olympic Games in Beijing, China, hoping to do well. He, however, settled for ninth position with 8:20:27. “I knew it was very difficult to win an Olympic medal but I expected to at least finish in the top five,” he said. “However, I enjoyed the experience of competing at the Olympics and reaching the Final. Everything was exciting and a bit different.” Weeks later (14 September), Kiplagat posted 8:16.58 to finish fifth in the World Athletics Final.

Kiplagat’s achievements in 2008, the World Junior silver medal in particular, pitted him against Moses Kipsiro for the Uganda Athlete of the Year award. However, the Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) chose Kipsiro as the best performer in 2008. Kiplagat came second. “I knew Kipsiro would win. I am going to become a World champion and Kipsiro won’t take the award again,” Kiplagat said, jokingly at the awards ceremony held 24 January.  

Kiplagat’s quest to dethrone Kipsiro was meant to start at the World Cross Country Championships held March 28 in Amman, Jordan, but malaria and typhoid conspired to deny him the opportunity. Despite finishing a distant seventh at the National Cross Country Championships held 14 February in Kapchorwa, Kiplagat was invited to train with the senior team for the Jordan event. For the three weeks he spent in camp, Kiplagat struggled to match the strength of other elite runners. “This is one of the lowest moments in my life,” Kiplagat said after it was announced that he would not travel to Jordan. “I thought I had recovered fully but it seems I need some time before I can compete again.”

He followed the proceedings in Jordan on television, but admits it took him time to overcome the disappointment of not competing. “I was happy Kipsiro won silver, but if I was there I believe I would have pushed him to take gold. The team would have done better also.”

Kiplagat picked up the pieces and resumed his build-up for the World Championships in Athletics. In the Ostrava Golden Spike, he re-wrote the National record to 8:12.98 despite finishing sixth (17June). He finished 8th in 8:14.74 in the Athens Grand Prix (13 July 13) before registering 8:19.70 while finishing seventh in the Paris Golden League (17 July).

Steeplechase is a stranglehold for Kenyan runners, but Kiplagat never runs out of optimism. He had hoped to defy the odds and grab a medal at the World Championships in Berlin. Try he did, but he could only finish 11th (8:17.82) in the Final. Nonetheless, reaching the Final was a worthy achievement considering performances by some other Ugandan athletes in the German capital.

Fortunes hardly changed for Kiplagat at the start of 2010, as he once again failed to make the team for the World Cross Country Championships held in Bydgoszcz, Poland. He wasn’t considered for the event after finishing a distant 11th  in the National Cross Country 12km race won by Kipsiro.

Kiplagat said he had just recovered from another serious malaria bout and couldn’t put up a good display on the national scene. He pleaded to be given another trial ahead of the World Cross Country, but the technical committee wouldn’t listen. “I wanted a second chance. After missing the 2009 World Cross Country, I was so desperate to compete in Poland,” he said. “But sickness couldn’t let me. I still feel that heartbreak.”

Kiplagat managed to get himself up again, recording 7:46.50 in 3000m at the IAAF Dakar Grand Prix on 24 April. His third-place finish in the Senegalese capital helped Kiplagat recover his confidence, as he grabbed second position over 1500m at the Flanders Athletics Meeting in Oordegem, Belgium (6 May),  with 3:39.95.

On 8 July, Kiplagat proved he still harbours ambitions of breaking Kenyan dominance in the Steeplechase when he finished second at the Lausanne Samsung Diamond League in a new National record of 8:03.81.He came second behind Kenyan Brimin Kipruto, (8:01.62) but crucially crossed the line ahead of 2004 Olympic bronze medallist Paul Koech and 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Richard Mateloong.

He followed that up with a fourth-place finish at the Paris Diamond League meeting on 16 July, where he registered 8:04.48. “I am getting to where I want to be, but won’t rest without winning a medal at a big championship,” Kiplagat said ahead of the Africa Senior Championships (July 28-August 1).

In Nairobi, though, things didn’t go according to plan as a boil on Kiplagat’s left leg ended his hopes of landing a medal. Despite keeping pace with the leading pack for the bigger part of the race, Kiplagat faded in the last lap, finishing a distant fifth (8:32.03) in the race won by Kenyan Richard Mateelong (8:23.54). “The legs simply couldn’t move. I tried hard to push myself to no avail,” Kiplagat said.

After that placing, Kiplagat left Nairobi disappointed he wouldn’t make the African team to the IAAF Continental Cup (September 4-5) in Split, Croatia. He was, however, later delighted to learn that he had been included on the team to Croatia. In the build-up to the Split showpiece, Kiplagat showed some signs of recovery by recording a fourth-place finish in the Weltklasse Diamond League in Zürich on 19 August.   The Ugandan posted 8:08.70 in the race won by Kenyan Ezekiel Kemboi (8:01.74) but was keen to improve in Split.

At the Continental Cup, Kiplagat placed fourth (8:14.47) with Kenyan Mateelong winning the race in 8:09.67.

After Split, he travelled to New Delhi, India for the Commonwealth Games (3-14 October) confident of halting Kenya’s stranglehold on the water-jump race but still fell short, posting another fourth-place finish in 8:24.15. Mateloong (8:16.39) again led a Kenyan clean sweep with Ezekiel Kemboi (8:18.47) and Brimin Kipruto (8:19.65) taking silver and gold respectively.

“It is hard to take but God has a plan for me. One day, I will beat these Kenyans,” a disappointed Kiplagat said after the race. He left New Delhi complaining of body fatigue. “It has been a very long season. I need to go home and rest,” he said at the end of the Games.

At the start of the 2011 season, Kiplagat admitted he was still feeling fatigued and it showed in the National Cross Country Championships (12 February). Despite comfortably running with the leading pack for the opening eight kilometers, Kiplagat later faded off the pace and eventually finished a distant 10th (38:03). Kipsiro won that 12km race hosted in Jinja, eastern Uganda in 36:34. Kiplagat’s performance meant he was, for the second straight year, left out of the national team to the World Cross Country Championships, held in Punta Umbria on 20 March.

Since February, he has competed sparingly in preparation for the World Athletics Championships (27 August to 4 September) in Daegu, South Korea. He has made four steeplechase appearances in the Samsung Diamond League, finishing sixth (8:12.87) in Shanghai on 15  May, seventh in Oslo (8:21.76) on 8 June, third in Paris (8:08.43) on 8 July, and second in Stockholm (8:14.42) on 29 July.

Though some have questioned his preparation for the World Championships, Kiplagat is upbeat. “I am sure I have what it takes to compete for a medal,” he said.

Personal Bests

3000m Steeplechase: 8:03.81 (2010)

1500m: 3:38.86 (2009)  

5000m: 13:22.67 (2007)

10,000m: 29:03.1 (2006)

Yearly Progression 

3000m Steeplechase: 2005: 8:39.1; 2006: 8:34.14; 2007: 8:21.73; 2008: 8:14.29, 2009: 8: 12.98; 2010: 8:03.81; 2011: 8:08.43

5000m: 2006: 13:49.7; 2007: 13:22.67; 2008: 13:33.0.

Career Highlights

2006  50th  World Cross Country Championships (4km)

2006  1st  National Championships (10,000m)

2006  6th  World Junior Championships (3000m Steeplechase)

2007  5th  World Cross Country Championships (Junior)

2007  7th  All Africa Games (3000m Steeplechase)

2007  SF  World Championships (3000m Steeplechase)

2008  4th  World Cross Country Championships (Junior race)

2008  1st  National Championships (3000m Steeplechase)

2008  2nd  World Junior Championships (3000m Steeplechase)

2009  11th  World Athletics Championships (3000m Steeplechase)

2010  5th  Africa Championships (3000m Steeplechase)

2010  4th  Continental Cup (3000m Steeplechase)

2010  4th  Commonwealth Games (3000m Steeplechase)

 

Prepared by Sande Bashaija for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. ©  IAAF 2008-2011.

Personal Best - Outdoor
Performance Wind Place Date
1500 Metres 3:38.86 Nijmegen 27 MAY 2009
3000 Metres 7:46.50 Dakar 24 APR 2010
5000 Metres 13:22.67 Kassel 06 JUN 2007
10,000 Metres 29:03.1 Bugembe 29 JUL 2006
2000 Metres Steeplechase 5:41.1 Nairobi 15 JUN 2005
3000 Metres Steeplechase 8:03.81 Lausanne 08 JUL 2010
Progression - Outdoor showShow All Graphs
1500 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2010 3:39.95 Oordegem-Lede 05 JUN
2009 3:38.86 Nijmegen 27 MAY
2007 3:40.76 Dessau 01 JUN
3000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2010 7:46.50 Dakar 24 APR
2007 7:49.99 Dakar 28 APR
5000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2008 13:33.0 Nairobi 19 APR
2007 13:22.67 Kassel 06 JUN
2006 13:49.7 Jinja 29 JUL
10,000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2006 29:03.1 Bugembe 29 JUL
2000 Metres Steeplechase Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2005 5:41.1 Nairobi 15 JUN
3000 Metres Steeplechase Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 8:26.05 Tokyo 11 MAY
2013 8:13.07 Paris Saint-Denis 06 JUL
2012 8:17.55 Roma (Stadio Olimpico) 31 MAY
2011 8:08.43 Paris Saint-Denis 08 JUL
2010 8:03.81 Lausanne 08 JUL
2009 8:12.98 Ostrava 17 JUN
2008 8:14.29 Hengelo 24 MAY
2007 8:21.73 Velenje 28 JUN
2006 8:34.14 Beijing (Chaoyang Sport Center) 19 AUG
2005 8:39.1 Kampala 30 JUL
Honours - 3000 Metres Steeplechase
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
14th IAAF World Championships 14 8:31.09 Moskva (Luzhniki) 15 AUG 2013
The XXX Olympic Games f DQ London (OP) 05 AUG 2012
13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 10 8:22.21 Daegu 01 SEP 2011
1st IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup 2010 4 8:14.47 Split (Poljud Stadium) 05 SEP 2010
12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 11 8:17.82 Berlin (Olympiastadion) 18 AUG 2009
6th IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final 5 8:16.58 Stuttgart 14 SEP 2008
The XXIX Olympic Games 9 8:20.27 Beijing (National Stadium) 18 AUG 2008
12th IAAF World Junior Championships 2 8:19.24 Bydgoszcz 13 JUL 2008
11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 10h1 8:40.65 Osaka (Nagai Stadium) 26 AUG 2007
11th IAAF World Junior Championships 6 8:34.14 Beijing (Chaoyang Sport Center) 19 AUG 2006
Honours - Junior Race
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
36th IAAF World Cross Country Championships 4 22:43 Edinburgh (Holyrood Park) 30 MAR 2008
35th IAAF World Cross Country Championships 5 24:31 Mombasa 24 MAR 2007
Honours - Short Race
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
34th IAAF World Cross Country Championships 50 11:31 Fukuoka 01 APR 2006


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.


Updated 29 July 2011

Benjamin KIPLAGAT, Uganda (3000m Steeplechase, 1,500m-10,000m and Cross Country)

Born: 4 March 1989 in Magoro, Bukwo District

1.76 / 58kg

Manager: Jos Hermens 

When Benjamin Kiplagat suspended his education to concentrate on athletics in 2006, his parents thought he was insane. The second-born in a family of four (three boys and one girl), Kiplagat is now Uganda's best 3000m Steeplechase runner and his success on the track has won back his parents' hearts.

Born in Magoro village, Bukwo District, near the slopes of Mt. Elgon, Kiplagat never took running seriously, and never competed in any races, during his seven years at Bukwo Primary School (1997-2003). But when Boniface Kiprop, a village mate, won a 10,000m World Junior gold medal in 2004, Kiplagat had a change of mind. He had now joined Form One at Rubonge Secondary School, in Tororo District, eastern Uganda.

"We heard Kiprop's name on radio and saw his pictures in newspapers,” recalled Kiplagat, the 2008 3000m Steeplechase World Junior Championships silver medallist. “Most of us, including today's other runners, wanted to be like Kiprop. Personally, I was inspired by him to start running."

Kiplagat then started training, and took part in the 2004 National Primary Schools competition, finishing fifth in the 10,000m. "There was a coach at school called Opio, I forget his other name. He told me to change to 1500m. He trained me for about two months and I won the 1500m and 5000m during the 2005 National Post Primary Championships in Kabalore (western Uganda)," he recalled.

That year, Kiplagat made his first National Championships appearance, at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole. Before the championships, he had spent one month of his first term school holidays in residential training in Iten, Kenya, and competed at their youth championships, posting 5:41.10 in the 2000m Steeplechase. At Namboole, Kiplagat won the 3000m Steeplechase, with a personal best 8:39.1 (hand time) and finished second to Jimmy Adar in the 1500m.

Kiplagat’s second appearance was at the National Cross Country Championships (February 2006). Despite leading the junior race for long spells, he finished sixth in his first cross country appearance. His performance was good enough for a place in the national team for the World Cross Country Championships, in Fukuoka, Japan. "It was my first trip abroad (outside Africa),” he said. “I had never thought I would board a plane. I came back happy having competed with Kenenisa Bekele.” Kiplagat competed in the 4km short course, not the 8km junior race, finishing 50th.

"After that experience, I felt I needed to add in more effort in training,” Kiplagat said. “That's when I told my parents I would not join Senior Three. They were so furious, but I packed my bags, went to Iten, and left them fuming."

After three months in residential training, Kiplagat returned for regional trials, in Mbarara, but finished second behind Jimmy Adar in the 1500m. In the Nationals, he won the combined senior and junior 10,000m (29.03.1) on the grass track of Bugembe while his 13:49.7 in the 5000m placed him second behind Geofrey Kusuro, the two-time National cross-country champion and World Junior 10,000m fourth-placer.

Kiplagat qualified for the World Junior Championships, in Beijing, setting a new National junior record of 8:35.77 in the heats and lowered it to 8:34.14 en route to finishing sixth in the final.

With a lot of motivation, Kiplagat joined Bukwo Athletics camp to prepare for the 2007 National Cross Country Championships, but again finished sixth. Despite not doing well at national level, the lanky runner turned out to be Uganda's best performer at the Mombasa-hosted World Cross Country Championships, with an impressive fifth place in the junior race.

This was the turning point. "After that race I was approached by Global Sports Communications agents.” Kiplagat said. “They said they wanted to take me to Europe. I was excited but I referred them to my local manager Nuwagaba (Godfrey).” Before a deal could be reached, Pace Sports Management also came into the picture, taking him to compete in the Dakar Grand Prix, where he came sixth in a 3000m race.

"They took me to Germany where I won three consecutive races - 1500m (3:40.76), 5,000m (13:22.67) and Steeplechase (8:25.55)," said the runner, who remembers almost all his times since he started competing. He had, by now, signed a contract with Global, who took him to Slovenia, where he won and wrote a new National record of 8:21.73 (28 June 2007) in the 12th MinersFest EAA meeting in Velenje, to qualify for the World Championships, in Osaka. Kenyans Caleb Ngetich (8:29.02) and Hillary Kiprono (8:32.94) trailed the Ugandan in second and third place respectively.

With the All Africa Games, in Algiers, beckoning at this time (July 2007), Kiplagat was one of Uganda's medal hopefuls. But it was not to be. "I mistimed a jump with three laps to go and managed seventh position," he said. A few weeks later he was in Osaka for the World Championships but could not advance to the Final. He recorded 8:40.65. "It was too hot for me. I wasn't feeling well at all and my body somehow didn't respond,” he said.

In February 2008, Kiplagat came close to beating Kusuro in the National Cross Country but failed to break the jinx. He was second there, but outlasted all Ugandans by finishing fourth in the Junior race at the Edinburgh-hosted World Cross Country Championships, where Ethiopia’s Ibrahim Jeylan won the title.

Kiplagat lowered the National record to 8:16.06 as he finished fourth in the Qatar Grand Prix (9 May) before bettering it to 8:14.29 in the FBK Games, Hengelo. There he finished second behind Kenyan Richard Mateelong (8:13.00), but defeated World champion Brimin Kipruto.

At the World Junior Championships, in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Kiplagat recorded 8:19.24 to grab silver behind Kenyan Jonathan Ndiku (8:17.28) but was unhappy with his performance. "I was disappointed,” he said. “I went into the championship with the best time and was sure of getting gold. I just can't figure out what went wrong."

Having been inspired by another runner, Kiplagat is also playing a guiding role to his younger brothers, Dan Changwony and Vincent Kibet. He took them to the National Championships (27 July) and they cheered him on as he won the 3000m Steeplechase (8:28.8). They participated in the 5000m with Changwony (15:52.7) finishing seventh but his brother dropped out during the race. "They are not strong enough but can improve with good training,” Kiplagat said. “I just have to keep on encouraging them."

Kiplagat also revealed his dream was to help his parents Johnson Chemweno and Elizabeth Chemweno, out of biting poverty. “Thank God I am earning some money,” he said. “However little, I make sure I give the biggest part to my parents to help them in their farming activities and spend the rest on my training."

Riding high on confidence after the World Junior Championships, Kiplagat went to the August Olympic Games in Beijing, China, hoping to do well. He, however, settled for ninth position with 8:20:27. “I knew it was very difficult to win an Olympic medal but I expected to at least finish in the top five,” he said. “However, I enjoyed the experience of competing at the Olympics and reaching the Final. Everything was exciting and a bit different.” Weeks later (14 September), Kiplagat posted 8:16.58 to finish fifth in the World Athletics Final.

Kiplagat’s achievements in 2008, the World Junior silver medal in particular, pitted him against Moses Kipsiro for the Uganda Athlete of the Year award. However, the Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) chose Kipsiro as the best performer in 2008. Kiplagat came second. “I knew Kipsiro would win. I am going to become a World champion and Kipsiro won’t take the award again,” Kiplagat said, jokingly at the awards ceremony held 24 January.  

Kiplagat’s quest to dethrone Kipsiro was meant to start at the World Cross Country Championships held March 28 in Amman, Jordan, but malaria and typhoid conspired to deny him the opportunity. Despite finishing a distant seventh at the National Cross Country Championships held 14 February in Kapchorwa, Kiplagat was invited to train with the senior team for the Jordan event. For the three weeks he spent in camp, Kiplagat struggled to match the strength of other elite runners. “This is one of the lowest moments in my life,” Kiplagat said after it was announced that he would not travel to Jordan. “I thought I had recovered fully but it seems I need some time before I can compete again.”

He followed the proceedings in Jordan on television, but admits it took him time to overcome the disappointment of not competing. “I was happy Kipsiro won silver, but if I was there I believe I would have pushed him to take gold. The team would have done better also.”

Kiplagat picked up the pieces and resumed his build-up for the World Championships in Athletics. In the Ostrava Golden Spike, he re-wrote the National record to 8:12.98 despite finishing sixth (17June). He finished 8th in 8:14.74 in the Athens Grand Prix (13 July 13) before registering 8:19.70 while finishing seventh in the Paris Golden League (17 July).

Steeplechase is a stranglehold for Kenyan runners, but Kiplagat never runs out of optimism. He had hoped to defy the odds and grab a medal at the World Championships in Berlin. Try he did, but he could only finish 11th (8:17.82) in the Final. Nonetheless, reaching the Final was a worthy achievement considering performances by some other Ugandan athletes in the German capital.

Fortunes hardly changed for Kiplagat at the start of 2010, as he once again failed to make the team for the World Cross Country Championships held in Bydgoszcz, Poland. He wasn’t considered for the event after finishing a distant 11th  in the National Cross Country 12km race won by Kipsiro.

Kiplagat said he had just recovered from another serious malaria bout and couldn’t put up a good display on the national scene. He pleaded to be given another trial ahead of the World Cross Country, but the technical committee wouldn’t listen. “I wanted a second chance. After missing the 2009 World Cross Country, I was so desperate to compete in Poland,” he said. “But sickness couldn’t let me. I still feel that heartbreak.”

Kiplagat managed to get himself up again, recording 7:46.50 in 3000m at the IAAF Dakar Grand Prix on 24 April. His third-place finish in the Senegalese capital helped Kiplagat recover his confidence, as he grabbed second position over 1500m at the Flanders Athletics Meeting in Oordegem, Belgium (6 May),  with 3:39.95.

On 8 July, Kiplagat proved he still harbours ambitions of breaking Kenyan dominance in the Steeplechase when he finished second at the Lausanne Samsung Diamond League in a new National record of 8:03.81.He came second behind Kenyan Brimin Kipruto, (8:01.62) but crucially crossed the line ahead of 2004 Olympic bronze medallist Paul Koech and 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Richard Mateloong.

He followed that up with a fourth-place finish at the Paris Diamond League meeting on 16 July, where he registered 8:04.48. “I am getting to where I want to be, but won’t rest without winning a medal at a big championship,” Kiplagat said ahead of the Africa Senior Championships (July 28-August 1).

In Nairobi, though, things didn’t go according to plan as a boil on Kiplagat’s left leg ended his hopes of landing a medal. Despite keeping pace with the leading pack for the bigger part of the race, Kiplagat faded in the last lap, finishing a distant fifth (8:32.03) in the race won by Kenyan Richard Mateelong (8:23.54). “The legs simply couldn’t move. I tried hard to push myself to no avail,” Kiplagat said.

After that placing, Kiplagat left Nairobi disappointed he wouldn’t make the African team to the IAAF Continental Cup (September 4-5) in Split, Croatia. He was, however, later delighted to learn that he had been included on the team to Croatia. In the build-up to the Split showpiece, Kiplagat showed some signs of recovery by recording a fourth-place finish in the Weltklasse Diamond League in Zürich on 19 August.   The Ugandan posted 8:08.70 in the race won by Kenyan Ezekiel Kemboi (8:01.74) but was keen to improve in Split.

At the Continental Cup, Kiplagat placed fourth (8:14.47) with Kenyan Mateelong winning the race in 8:09.67.

After Split, he travelled to New Delhi, India for the Commonwealth Games (3-14 October) confident of halting Kenya’s stranglehold on the water-jump race but still fell short, posting another fourth-place finish in 8:24.15. Mateloong (8:16.39) again led a Kenyan clean sweep with Ezekiel Kemboi (8:18.47) and Brimin Kipruto (8:19.65) taking silver and gold respectively.

“It is hard to take but God has a plan for me. One day, I will beat these Kenyans,” a disappointed Kiplagat said after the race. He left New Delhi complaining of body fatigue. “It has been a very long season. I need to go home and rest,” he said at the end of the Games.

At the start of the 2011 season, Kiplagat admitted he was still feeling fatigued and it showed in the National Cross Country Championships (12 February). Despite comfortably running with the leading pack for the opening eight kilometers, Kiplagat later faded off the pace and eventually finished a distant 10th (38:03). Kipsiro won that 12km race hosted in Jinja, eastern Uganda in 36:34. Kiplagat’s performance meant he was, for the second straight year, left out of the national team to the World Cross Country Championships, held in Punta Umbria on 20 March.

Since February, he has competed sparingly in preparation for the World Athletics Championships (27 August to 4 September) in Daegu, South Korea. He has made four steeplechase appearances in the Samsung Diamond League, finishing sixth (8:12.87) in Shanghai on 15  May, seventh in Oslo (8:21.76) on 8 June, third in Paris (8:08.43) on 8 July, and second in Stockholm (8:14.42) on 29 July.

Though some have questioned his preparation for the World Championships, Kiplagat is upbeat. “I am sure I have what it takes to compete for a medal,” he said.

Personal Bests

3000m Steeplechase: 8:03.81 (2010)

1500m: 3:38.86 (2009)  

5000m: 13:22.67 (2007)

10,000m: 29:03.1 (2006)

Yearly Progression 

3000m Steeplechase: 2005: 8:39.1; 2006: 8:34.14; 2007: 8:21.73; 2008: 8:14.29, 2009: 8: 12.98; 2010: 8:03.81; 2011: 8:08.43

5000m: 2006: 13:49.7; 2007: 13:22.67; 2008: 13:33.0.

Career Highlights

2006  50th  World Cross Country Championships (4km)

2006  1st  National Championships (10,000m)

2006  6th  World Junior Championships (3000m Steeplechase)

2007  5th  World Cross Country Championships (Junior)

2007  7th  All Africa Games (3000m Steeplechase)

2007  SF  World Championships (3000m Steeplechase)

2008  4th  World Cross Country Championships (Junior race)

2008  1st  National Championships (3000m Steeplechase)

2008  2nd  World Junior Championships (3000m Steeplechase)

2009  11th  World Athletics Championships (3000m Steeplechase)

2010  5th  Africa Championships (3000m Steeplechase)

2010  4th  Continental Cup (3000m Steeplechase)

2010  4th  Commonwealth Games (3000m Steeplechase)

 

Prepared by Sande Bashaija for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. ©  IAAF 2008-2011.