Augustine Kiprono CHOGE (CHO-geh), Kenya (3000/5000m, cross)
Born 21 January 1987, Kipsigak, near Kapsabet, Nandi District, Rift Valley Prov., Kenya.
Lives in Kipsigak, training base in Iten. European base: Tübingen, Germany.
Completed Kabikwen Secondary School, 2004.
Manager: James Templeton. Coach: Br. Colm O’Connell.
Native language: Nandi (Kalenjin). Parents small-scale farmers.
Began running in primary school, and, like so many Africans, running to and from school (8 km each way in Choge’s case). Spotted by Br. Colm O’Connell at 2001 provincial secondary school competition and invited to school holiday training camp run by Br. Colm. Won national schools 10,000 in 2002 and finished 4th at 10,000 in Kenya’s World Junior Championships trials (29:06.5 at 1500 meters altitude).
Finished 5th in Kenya’s 2003 Junior World Cross trials and moved up to 4th in the Lausanne World Championships. Selected to run 800, 1500 and 3000 at East African Youth Championships in May in Addis Ababa and won all three (1:49.7, 3:43.7 and 8:04.2). Ran just the 3000m at World Youth Championships in Canada and won again (7:52.53), beating Ethiopia’s Tariku Bekele, younger brother of Kenenisa, by just over two seconds. Made European track debut in Heusden at 5000m (6th in 13:20.08), moved down to 3000m in Berlin (11th in 7:51.52) and then to 1500m in Zürich, where he was 2nd in the under-23 race in 3:37.48, a World Youth Best.
Missed the 2004 World Cross trials because of illness, but won 5000m at World Junior Championships trials (13:29.0 at altitude). Ten days later he was 5th in Kenya’s Olympic trials in a slower time (13:31.4). At the World Juniors in Italy, he once again outkicked Tariku by about two seconds to win in 13:28.93, also beating in the process Ethiopian Badi Worku, Ugandan Boniface Kiprop and Tanzanian Fabiano Joseph. But Choge’s season was just warming up. Next came a PB at 5000 in Stockholm (13:09.18 for 7th), then a PB at 1500 in Heusden (3:36.64 for 12th), then 8th in the big pre-Olympic 5000 in Zurich (13:15.56), and finally, following the Olympics, two Grand Prix victories in two World Youth Bests—1st in the 3000 at Rieti (7:36.82) and a week later 1st in the 5000 in Berlin (12:57.01). After that, Choge’s 3rd place in the World Athletics Final (13:09.00) was barely worth mentioning.
Early in 2005 Choge comfortably won the junior race at Kenya’s World Cross trials and followed up by taking Kenya’s only individual gold at the World Cross in St. Etienne-St.Galmier, leading Kenya’s sweep of the top five places in the junior men’s race. On the track he met with mixed fortunes. On the plus side, three big new PBs: a 7:28.78 World Junior Record at 3000 in Doha behind compatriot Eliud Kipchoge; a 3:33.99 for 1500 in Seville and a 12:53.66 for 5000 in Rome behind training partner Isaac Songok, Kipchoge and Ethiopia’s Gebregziabher Gebremariam. Disappointments included a near DNF in Kenya’s World Championships trials (12th in 13:48.8) when Choge was stricken with a severe stitch early in the race, and a dismal 10th in his heat of the 1500 at the Helsinki World Championships – a race he had been thrown into at the last minute, with little preparation, when the Kenyan federation grew concerned that one of the selected entrants, Paul Korir, was not performing well.
2006 has begun strongly. In Kenya’s two stage World Cross trials, Choge traded wins with Songok in the 4K, winning the first race, taking 2nd in the second. On the track, he won the 5000 at Kenya’s Commonwealth Games trials (13:28.77 at altitude), and then in a brilliant display of tactical maturity and formidable acceleration, he outkicked Australia’s Craig Mottram over the final 200m, having pushed the pace for most of the race, and collected a well-earned gold (12:56.41).
Choge is clearly at the top of his game. Br. Colm thinks him one of the greatest prodigies he has ever coached—this from a man who has had a hand in training dozens of World and Olympic medalists. But prodigies don’t come any more prodigious than the man Choge will have to beat for the 4k gold in Fukuoka. To deprive Kenenisa Bekele of his last World Cross double would be a prodigious feat indeed.
Yearly progression 3000m/5000m: 2003 - 7:51.52/ 13:20.08; 2004 - 7:36.82/ 12:57.01; 2005 – 7:28.78/ 12:53.66; 2006 - --/ 12:56.41.
Other PBs: 1500m - 3:33.99 (2005)
Prepared by John Manners for the IAAF. ©IAAF 2005-06.