Updated 1 May 2008
Josphat KIPRONO MENJO, Kenya (3000/5000/10,000)
Born 20 August, 1979, Kapsabet
Height 180 cm (5'10”); Weight: 61kg
Team: Armed Forces
Coach: Julius Kirwa
Manager: David Kibelion
Training camps: Ngong and Iten
Josphat Kiprono Menjo had no interest in athletics and only got involved in the sport after he was conscripted to the Kenyan Armed Forces. “When I was in school, I was not a fan of sport,” the fifth born in a family of 10 said. “I only developed an interest in athletics when I was enlisted in the Armed Forces. Paul Tergat and Wilson Boit Kipketer, whom we work together with at the Moi Air Base, influenced me to run.”
He may have needed persuasion to start his athletics career but he has proved to be a quality distance runner, his highlight so far being the missing of the 2007 All Africa Games 5000m gold by the thickness of a vest in Algiers.
Kiprono Menjo is related to Josephat Kiprono, the distance and marathon runner who participated at the World Half Marathon Championships in 1996 and won a silver behind Italian 2004 Olympic marathon champion, Stefano Baldini. Kiprono won three marathons in his career: Berlin (1999), Rome (2000), and Rotterdam (2001). His personal best is 2:06:44, run in Berlin. Menjo’s first name is spelt Josphat (without the ‘e’) to differentiate between the two.
Kiprono Menjo went for his primary education at Kapkechui Primary before joining Chemundu Secondary where he cleared his O Levels in 1998. The then aspiring teacher spent the next four years helping out in his father’s maize farm as he waited for an opportunity to join college. “I longed to go for further studies but, in 2002, I was selected to join the Armed Forces and, after seeing others train for athletics, I joined them.”
His first competition was at the 2003 Armed Forces Cross Country Championships where he finished 12th in the 4km senior race. Later he entered the track championships, where he lined up in the 3000m Steeplechase. “The 10,000m and 5000m races were full and the only available place in the team was in the Steeplechase - that is why I ran,” he recounts.
Kiprono Menjo then qualified for the 2004 National Championships where he finished third (13:48.7) in the 5000m final. He had warmed up for that by winning the Nairobi provincial championships 5000m in 13:57.6 and, before that, he recorded 10th in 14:28.0 in early April. “That is where I first attempted 5000m and realised I had potential in the distance and, from then on, I decided to specialise in it,” he said. He then went abroad for his first European road race, finishing third (64:09) at the Valladoid Half Marathon in Spain.
In 2005 he attempted to make the Kenyan team for the first time when he participated in the February cross-country championships but could only place 39th. “I was not exceptional in cross-country but I just wanted to try to get to the national team,” he says.
That paved way for the track season where he toured Europe for a series of races, skipping both the National Championships and Trials for Helsinki World Championships.
He won June’s Spanish Gava meet’s 5000m in 13:14.38 and was eighth at the Madrid 3000m in July but in what remains a PB 7:44.47. In 2006, Kiprono Menjo finished third in the National Championships to book his ticket to the African Championships in Bambous, Mauritius. At his maiden appearance for Kenya, he clocked 14:07.39 to end fifth in the 5000m.
Kiprono Menjo had a very busy 2007 season that began with failure to make the national cross-country team for the Mombasa World Cross. One of the highlights was securing his place in the Kenya team for the All Africa Games in Algiers. Before going to Algiers he travelled to Europe where he recorded a PB 5000m (13:06.69) in Gavá. In Algiers, he ran the most memorable race of his career. With the gold only few metres away, a late bust by Uganda’s Moses Kipsiro on the outside lane denied him the top medal.
“I thought I had won but he surprised me with his late kick,” Kiprono Menjo, who graciously took silver, said. His next stop was the National Trials for the World Championships in Osaka where he took third in the 10,000m (28:18.1) to extend his stay at the national team. In Japan, he looked to be in medal contention midway through the final but faded as the runners sprinted for the tape to finish eighth (28:25.67).
This year, at the March 18 AAC trials, he clocked 13:31.3 in the 5000m final to make the national team for Addis Ababa. “I hope to win a medal and qualify for Beijing,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult especially at the Olympic Trials. He says that he may switch to full marathon in two years and sees himself retired from athletics in ten.
Two Miles: 8:18.96 (2007)
5000m: 13:06.69 (2007)
10,000m: 27:04.61 (2007)
10km: 27:47 (2008)
3000m: 2005 - 7:44.47; 2006 - 7:48.16; 2007: 7:50.97.
5000m: 2005 - 13:14.38; 2006 - 13:09.24; 2007 -13:06.69.
10,000m: 2006 - 27:29.45; 2007 - 27:04.61
10km: 2007 - 28:33; 2008 - 27:47.
2006 5th African Championships (5000m)
2007 2nd All Africa Games (5000m)
8th World Championships (10,000m)
Prepared by James Wokabi and Mutwiri Mutuota for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008