Updated 1 May 2008
Mercy Wanjiru NJOROGE, Kenya (3000m, 5000m, Steeplechase)
Born 10 June, 1986, Njabini, Nyandarua District
Height: 158 cm (5’ 2”); weight: 46kg
Camp: PACE Management, Kaptagat
Coach: Sammy Rono
Manager: Ricky Simms
Decorated as a junior runner, Mercy Wanjiru Njoroge (a third born in a family of four) is blossoming into a sturdy middle distance runner. The athlete who hails from Nyandarua, an area that has produced its fair share of quality runners such as five-time World Cross Country champion John Ngugi and former 10,000m World champion Charles Kamathi, attended her formative education in three primary schools.
Njoroge started at Njambini Primary (Standard 1 to 6) before moving to Kimathi Primary (Standard 6 and 7) and then joined Kagondo Primary, an institution that has attracted a number of runners including John Thuo, who finished eighth in the senior race at the 2008 World Cross Country in Edinburgh.
Njoroge moved to the secondary school wing of Kangondo, where she studied from Form 1 to Form 3, and then transferred to St Bridgitas Kipkaren in Eldoret, where she repeated Form 3 and finished Form 4 for her O Levels last year. Her athletics career took off in 2002 when, as a standard 8 pupil at Kagondo Primary, she was urged by a teacher - Mr Mathu - to take up the sport.
“During our inter-classes games, Mr Mathu told me to run the 3000m for my class and I had no choice but to obey,” she recalls. She sailed to the nationals of the Primary School term two championships. In 2003, she made her maiden appearance at the National Championships where, in the 2000m Steeplechase, she clocked 6:42.4 to settle for fourth, a performance that signalled what was to follow.
A year later, Njoroge represented her country at the 2004 World Junior Championships, in Grosseto, Italy, where she finished outside the medals in the 3000m Steeplechase (9:52.25). Her attempt at gaining a place in the national team for the 2005 World Cross in St-Etienne/St-Galmier, France, proved successful and there she finished fourth, helping Kenya to secure the team title.
Njoroge’s next showing was at the National Championships, where she clocked 15:48.0 for 5000m bronze. At the National trials for the Helsinki World Championships, she ran 10:02.0 for the 3000m Steeplechase to place seventh and miss out. Njoroge then achieved her biggest success so far, double gold at the Tunis African Junior Championships. First, she won the 3000m (9:14.89) and, three days later, after being motivated by her performance, went for the double in the 3000m Steeplechase, clocking 9:50.63 for the gold medal.
In 2006, Njoroge started the year by booking her berth in the national senior women’s team for the World Cross Country Championships, in Fukuoka, Japan, finishing second at the trials. In Fukuoka, she finished 12th in the senior 8km long race dominated by Ethiopians before returning to school. The following year she took a battering at the national trials for World Cross in Mombasa, finishing 42nd.
As the 2007 track season began, Njoroge took fifth (9:43.02) in the 3000m Steeplechase at the Doha GP before finishing second (9:54.6) to world junior record holder, Ruth Bosibori, at the National Championships in June. That earned her a ticket to represent the country at the All Africa Games, in Algiers, where she finished fifth (10:07.48). She returned home to complete her O Levels.
At the national trials for the 2008 Africa Championships, Njoroge ran 10:15.5 to finish third. She was not included in the initial 39-member squad named on 19 April but was added a day later. “It was good of them to select me and I hope I will repay the faith by winning the gold medal in Addis Ababa,” she said.
Two-time world marathon champion, Catherine Ndereba is her role model. “I admire the way she has remained on top for so long,” Njoroge said. “I wish I could do the same.”
3000m: 8:48.16 (2006)
5000m: 15:25.68 (2006)
2000m Steeplechase: 6:42.4 (2003)
3000m Steeplechase: 9:43.02 (2007)
3000m Steeplechase: 2005: 9:50.63; 2006: 9:52.25; 2007: 9:43.02;
3000m: 2005: 9:14.89; 2006: 8:48.16
5000m: 2005: 15:48.0; 2006: 15:25.68 ,
2004 4th World Junior Championships (3000m Steeplechase)
2005 1st Africa Junior Championships (3000m/3000m Steeplechase)
4th World Cross Country Championships (Junior)
2006 12th World Cross Country Championships
Prepared by James Wokabi and Mutwiri Mutuota for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008