Updated 10 October 2007
Alice TIMBILIL, Kenya (Half Marathon/cross country)
Height: 1.55m, weight 47kg
Born 1 February 1983; Moiben, Uasin Gishu district
Trains: Nike camp, Kaptagat
Manager: Federico Rosa
A youth prodigy, Alice Timbilil burst into the headlines when she won the 10,000m at the 1999 national athletics championships at a tender age of 16.
Still a primary school student, she clocked 32:34.3 to register a shock win ahead of more fancied opponents.
A star had been born. Though she admittedly has not fulfilled the enormous potential she displayed then, with only one World individual gold medal to her name, there is no doubting her ability.
Coming from an athletics family - 2004 Africa 800m champion Nancy Lagat is her aunt - Timbilil caught the bug early, “I used to see Nancy run and, though she lived far from our home, I was in regular contact with her as I wanted to emulate her,” Timbilil said.
The last born in a family of seven, Timbilil started running while at Kemeliet Primary school, doing well at school meets before her shock win at the national championships. After that, she represented the country for the first time at the 1999 World Youth Championship, in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in July where she won gold in the girls’ 3000m (9:01.99).
The following month, Timbilil contested the senior World Championships in Seville but, probably due to inexperience or stagefright, she failed to finish after she miscalculated the number of laps, stopping after 24 of the 25.
Back home, she joined Kapkenda Secondary School in 2000, making the junior team for the World Cross Country Championships in Vilamoura, Portugal. She claimed silver in a race won by compatriot Vivian Cheruiyot, helping Kenya to win the team title. Later in the year, she made the 10,000m team for the Olympic Games, in Sydney, but could finish no higher than 14th (31:50.22).
Still a junior in 2001, Timbilil returned to the World Cross Country, finishing 16th in Ostend, Belgium. Not only was her performance well down on her 2000 effort but Kenya lost the team title to Ethiopia.
In June 2002, Timbilil finished 3rd in the national 10,000m championships (32:54.0) but school commitments limited her participation in grand prix meetings until 2004. In 2003, she moved up to the seniors in cross country and won the national championships, earning a chance to represent Kenya at the World Championships, in Lausanne. She finished 14th, helping her country to team silver.
In February 2004, Timbilil cemented her position in Kenyan cross country when she won the long course race at the national trials and, at the World Championships, in Brussels, she finished just outside the medals, placing 4th.
5th in a 5000m in Seville in June (15:14.85), Timbilil won the 10,000m (32:12.1) at the national trials to make the Olympic steam for Athens. On the European circuit, she finished 6th over 5000m at the Golden Gala in Rome (14:53.17), 2nd over 3000m in the Paris Golden League (8:42.01) and 2nd in the Stockholm Grand Prix 3000m (8:43.16).
In Athens, however, Timbilil could only manage 16th position (32:12:57) and this was followed by 4th places over 5000m in the Golden League meetings of Brussels and Berlin and 6th in the World Athletics Final in Monaco. In none of these did she break 15 minutes.
At the 2005 World Cross Country Championships, in St Etienne, France, Timbilil put in one of her great performances, taking the fight to the Ethiopians to win silver a mere 0.03sec behind winner Tirunesh Dibaba. In the early part of the European track season, she finished 3rd in Hengelo over 5000m (14:57.32) and 3rd over 3000m at the Grand Prix in Seville (9:05.93).
Timbilil finished 6th in IAAF Paris Golden League 3000m (8:40.76) and 8th over 5000m (14:47.06) in the Golden League in Rome. But, having won the 10,000m (31:45.4) at the National championships to earn selection for the World Championships, in Helsinki, she was forced to withdraw due to injury.
Then Timbilil took maternal leave and, on 14 March 2006, she gave birth to a bouncing baby boy Collins Kimutai. “I was so excited to have a son who means a lot to me,” she said. “He is the focus of my life.” But she resumed her athletics career in December last year, taking part in cross country meets.
In February this year, Timbilil’s hopes of making a comeback at the World Cross Country Championships, in Mombasa, disappeared as she could only manage 22nd place at the trials held at Ngong Racecourse. However, by July, Timbilil was sufficiently back to form to finish 2nd at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree road race. She clocked 31:47, just three seconds behind Ethiopia’s Wude Ayalew.
On September 16, Timbilil notched another 2nd place, at the Philadelphia Half Marathon won by compatriot and Udine team mate, Pamela Chepchumba.
The two duelled for most of the race before Timbilil gave in to finish in a time of 68:56.
Now ready to take on Udine, Timbilil is looking forward to wearing the national colours once again. “I have been away for a while and it feels good to represent the country again and I am looking forward to doing well,” she said.
Timbilil says that she will now focus solely on road running and cross country.
“You cannot do well if you mix track and road running because you need speed on the track so I have decided to concentrate on road running and cross country.”
Her husband, Mark Sinyei, a farmer, is very supportive of her and even assists her with training, “He acts as my pacemaker in training, helping me especially with speed work, then he goes on to attend his farm,” she says.
3,000m: 1999 – 9:01.99; 2004 – 8:42.01; 2005 – 8:40.76.
5000m: 2000 – 16:19.04; 2002 - 16:16.6A; 2004 – 14:53.17; 2005 – 14:47.06.
10,000m: 1998 – 34:28.0A; 1999 – 32:02.2A; 2000 – 31:50.22; 2001 – 32:52.7A; 2002 – 32:54.0A; 2003 – 32:45.2; 2004 – 31:23.99; 2005 – 31:45.4A
Half Marathon: 2007 - 68:56
3000m: 8:40.76 (2005)
5000m: 14:47.06 (2005)
10,000m: 31:23.99 (2004)
Half Marathon: 68:56 (2007)
July 1999 1st, 3,000m, World Youth Championships
March 2000 2nd, World Cross Country Championships (Junior Women)
March 2005 2nd, World Cross Country Championships (Long Course race)
Prepared by James Wokabi and Mutwiri Mutuota for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2007