Matthew Kisorio running in Eldoret in the 2009 Discovery XC (David Macharia) © Copyright
Mathew Kipkoech KISORIO, Kenya (5000m, 10,000m, Cross Country)
Born: 16 May, 1989, Kapchumba, Tulon Division, Nandi North District, Rift Valley Province
Coach: Claudio Berardelli
Manager: Federico Rosa
Only a few live to measure up to the legacies left behind by successful parents. Even fewer get the chance to eclipse their distinguished forebears and the genial Mathew Kisorio is one of them.
He did not need to look far for motivation, being a son of Kenya’s first ever medallist at the World Cross Country Championships (bronze, 1983), the late Some Muge (died 1997).
Kisorio, 21, the fourth of seven children, is keeping his family’s torch burning bright in that event, as well as making his debut on the international road running circuit after failed attempts to ignite the track in his preferred 5000m race at senior level.
In 2009, Kisorio made his World Cross senior debut in Amman, 26 years after his father lined-up for the 12km long race where he returned sixth after sacrificing his medal ambitions to aid the team wrest the individual gold from arch-rivals, Ethiopia.
“Since I knew I was not the strongest in finishing, I agreed to do the lapping until 2km from the end which I did. But when I looked around, the teammates who were supposed to take it up had not kept up expect Komon (Leonard) who was helping me with pushing the pace.
“We also had (Gebregziabher) Gebremariam and (Moses) Kipsiro for company who swallowed us up and went for it. I felt so disappointed it did not work out after all the work I put in,” Kisorio reflected on Amman. Ethiopia’s Gebremariam and Uganda’s Kipsiro took the top two medals.
Kisorio’s dalliance with the national team began in 2006 when he was selected to contest at the World Junior Championships, in Beijing, after Thomas Longosiwa, had been accused of lying about his age, but could not travel since he had no passport.
In February 2007, he won the 8km race at the national trials for the Mombasa World Cross to wear the red, green and black strip for the first time. Come the World Cross, he won took bronze behind Asbel Kiprop and Vincent Kiprop Chepkok as Kenya charged to the junior men’s title.
In August, coming in as a last-minute inclusion to the national team for the African Junior Championships, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Kisorio went on to clinch the 5000m (14:13.25) and 10,000m (29:34.96) double. This time, sudden withdrawals by Levy Matebo and Titus Masai, who were allegedly being wooed to defect to Qatar, two days prior to the team’s departure saw him included.
On the strength of his showing in Mombasa, Kisorio was billed as favourite for the junior men’s race at the 2008 Edinburgh World Cross. He duly qualified by finishing second to Matebo but, at the wet muddy Holyrood Park course in Scotland, Kisorio paled to sixth.
“To date, I cannot explain why I did not win a medal in Edinburgh,” Kisorio said. “Maybe the cold weather was not favourable.”
Running unchallenged for half of the 5000m trial for the 2008 World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Kisorio sealed his place with a victorious run of 13:38.16. His dominant display installed him as a contender for gold in Poland, but Kisorio was forced to play bridesmaid to Ethiopia’s Abraham Cherkos who set a Championship record 13:08.57. In taking silver, while Kisorio ran his then personal best of 13:11.57.
Ever his own biggest critic, Kisorio offered: “I opened the race early and they used me to pace themselves until the bell. That left me against the two of them because my friend (team mate Vincent Yator) had dropped off. I was beaten in the last 100m as we went for the finishing kick.”
After Bydgoszcz, Kisorio made his debut on the European circuit. He clocked 7:48.73 (7 September) at the Athletics Bridge EAA Permit meeting in Dubnica, Slovakia, where he placed fourth. Three days later he ran 13:16.31 over 5000m in Rovereto, Italy, to finish second behind compatriot Silas Kipruto.
Thereafter, Kisorio returned home to train for the coming season that would see him shed the tag of junior runner. In December, he made his debut over 12km in cross country, finishing fourth at the Kenya Seed Cross Country in Chepkoilel.
He began 2009 by winning the long race at the 5th KCC/AK National Cross Country Series meeting in Nyahururu, then finished first at January’s Discovery Kenya Cross Country before his second place finish at the national selection event clinched his ticket for Amman.
“Being my first time as a senior, I will compete as much as possible, though I have no experience in 12km at World Cross,” Kisorio said at the time. “Even if I do not get a medal or win, I want to help the team because, if one of my teammates wins a medal or the race, it would be my joy. My aim is to help our team bring back the 12km gold.”
Kisorio entered two races on the European track circuit after Amman to prepare for a crack at the national team for the Berlin World Championships. He returned 13:09.82 (5000m) in Hengelo on 1 June, before racing a lifetime best of 27:15.44 (ranked number nine on the World list in 10,000m) for second in Utrecht a fortnight later.
This performance convinced his management to enter him for the 27 June, 25-lap race at Kenya’s National Championships that was a direct Trial for Berlin over the distance.
Kisorio ran 28:58.97 for fifth in a ferocious affair where the winner, Sammy Kitwara, ran a then soil record of 27:44.46. Athletics Kenya (AK) later axed both Kitwara and runner-up, Gideon Ngatuny, from the Berlin squad after they competed in road races thereafter and Kisorio was overlooked for the wildcard in favour of Olympics 10,000m bronze winner, Micah Kogo.
He then set his sights on the 5000m race at the Berlin Trials scheduled for 25 July. Kisorio primed for that by returning a season’s best performance in the distance of 13:02.40 at Rome’s Golden Gala (10 July) but his World Championships hope were well and truly buried when he could only muster a seventh place finish (13:30.6) at the selection event.
“It was not meant to be my chance. I tried everything to go to Berlin but I must admit the others had prepared better for it. I still do not know why they chose not to give me the wildcard in 10,000m but they have reasons,” a disappointed Kisorio told reporters after the team to Berlin was announced.
A lifetime best in 3000m (7:34.29/6 September) and two more 5000m races in Rovereto (13:13.38/1 September) and Daegu (13:26.20/25 September) wrapped his season.
A paradigm shift greeted Kisorio’s career in the advent of 2010 as he opted to try his luck on the road. “Missing Berlin made me realise making the national team on track will prove to be so difficult. Let me try road running to see whether that’s where I’m more suited,” he explained.
His coach, Claudio Berardelli added: “We noticed he does not have the kick to compete with the best on track. He has lost most of his races at the final bend since he can run at consistent pace throughout the race. This is more suited for road running.”
After finishing fourth in Fuensalida (10 January) and second in Sevilla (17 January) cross country meets in Spain, Kisorio faded to 20th at the National Championships cum Trials for the Bydgoszcz World Cross to end his interest on Poland.
He made his half marathon debut at Lisbon on 21 March, where he held his own in a stellar field to race 61:10 for eighth at an event where Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese set the new World record of 58:23.
The onset of the track season in May saw Kisorio enter a number of the inaugural Diamond League meetings where a new career best in 5000m of 12:57.83 (No 12 World List) was set at the Oslo Bislett Games on 4 June.
On 26 June, Kisorio was at the thick of another brutal 10,000m selection race, this time for the African Athletics Championships that were set to be held in Nairobi from July 28 to August 1, where the youngster stopped the clock in 27:28.13 (SB) for third in a race where the winner, Wilson Kiprop, blitzed to a new soil best of 27:26.96. Such was the ferocity of that contest that all top-nine finishers dipped under Kitwara’s 27:44.46 previous home record.
Kisorio finished just outside the medals at the continental event, in 27:56.71, after earning plaudits for making the race for his teammates Kiprop and Geoffrey Mutai who won gold and bronze. “He is the one who did all the work to wear down the Ethiopians. His lapping was excellent. It’s a pity Kipsiro got between him and the medal,” Kenya’s head coach at that event, Stephen Mwaniki, observed after the race where Kenya bagged its first of ten gold medals.
His second appearance at half marathon at the ING event in Philadelphia made headlines when Kisorio blessed the course with a new route best of (60:16) in taking surprise victory over favoured home runner, Ryan Hall despite being pushed by runner-up Gebregziabher Gebremariam as they came for the finish.
"I'm very happy because that's my personal best and it's only my second half marathon," Kisorio said. "But, I was trying to run under 1 hour. Maybe with this experience I will run better in my next race," he told Philly.com after the race where he obliterated Khalid Khannouchi’s 1:00:27 previous course record.
At his next 21km showdown, Kisorio ran to a 60:10 career best (No 26 World List) at the Sport Zone Porto Half Marathon, where he conceded victory to compatriot Stephen Kibet by a mere second in the flying conclusion to the tussle for the tape.
When the cross country season commenced in November, Kisorio took part in two races, Oeiras (13 November/fourth) and Soria (21 November/second) in Spain before winning the long race at the sixth KCB/AK National Cross Country Series meet in Nyahururu (18 December) to sew-up his year.
Two podium finishes in Spain namely, Fuensalida (9 January/ third) and Sevilla (16 January/second) prepped him for the 19 March IAAF Permit/KCB National Cross Country Championships, where he trailed Mutai across the line to earn an automatic ticket to the Punta Umbria World Cross.
“I’m so happy to return to the World Cross after missing last year and my minimum objective in Spain is to bring back a medal. I have run in many cross country events in the country and I believe that gives me some inside knowledge of what I have to do.”
Kisorio was among those who came out to defend transition from track to road running at a tender age, following complaints against the increased tendency levelled by the federation and some senior athletes, such as 1988 Olympics 5000m silver winner, Yobes Ondieki, and former World marathon record holder, Paul Tergat.
"Road races pay better than track, though one has to be careful since the risk for injury is higher. Running, like any other profession, is a career and we live out of it. The competitive nature of track running means only few can make a rewarding career out of it and this leaves us no choice," said Kisorio, who stated he plans on attacking the World half marathon record this year.
On why he enjoys cross country running, Kisorio remarked: “Cross country gave me a name as a junior and my father used to run 12km. Why I shouldn’t do the same? I am always following his footsteps and aiming to perform better than he did.”
Kisorio hails athletics, the sport that has catapulted him to the global stage saying, “It helped me a lot, our family and myself, I can carry on in life without difficulty. My siblings have gone through education smoothly. I would not be where I am without the sport.”
His younger brother, Peter Kimeli Some, finished one place behind him at the 2008 World Cross in Edinburgh and he is also into road racing.
Another sibling, Nicholas Togom Kipchirchir, was named in Kenya’s team for this year’s African Cross Country Championships, winning bronze in the junior race in Cape Town.
3000m: 7:34.29 (2009)
5000m: 12:57.83 (2010)
10,000m: 27:15.44 (2009)
Half Marathon: 60:10 (2010)
3000m: 2007 - 8:00.39; 2008 – 7:48.73; 2009-7:34.29; 2010- 7:41.99
5000m: 2007- 13:28.43; 2008 – 13:11.57; 2009- 13:02.40; 2010-12:57.83
10,000m: 2006 - 28:50.1A; 2007 – 29:22.0A -2009-27:15.44; 2010- 27:28.13A
2007 3rd World Cross Country Championships (junior)
2007 1st African Junior Championships (5000m)
2007 1st African Junior Championships (10,000m)
2008 6th World Cross Country Championships (junior)
2008 2nd World Junior Championships (5000m)
2009 6th World Cross Country Championships (senior)
2010 4th African Championships (10,000m)
2010 1st Philadelphia Half Marathon
Prepared by James Wokabi and Mutwiri Mutuota for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008-2011