Moses Mosop on whose shoulders much Kenyan hope rests in Mombasa (Getty Images) © Copyright
Moses Cheruiyot MOSOP, Kenya (10,000m, cross country)
Born 07 July, 1985, Kamasia, Marakwet District, Rift Valley Province, Kenya
Coach: Renato Canova
Manager: Gianni Demadonna
Team: Kenya Police
Training: Ngong, Nairobi
Nicknamed ‘Engine Kubwa’ (Big Engine) for his powerful running technique, Moses Mosop is leading the life of latter day global sporting icons with a colourful existence both on and off the field. Only the jet-set lifestyle involving fast cars and lavish houses is missing from Mosop’s repertoire.
His recovery from a serious Achilles injury to win the killer Kenyan Trials and his private life have fascinated in equal measure and the world of athletics waits with bated breath to see whether Mosop will play his part in one of the gripping stories written in Amman.
On February 21, Mosop and Florence Kiplagat won the senior races at the Kenyan trials to become the first husband and wife couple to accomplish the act. Or were they? The mystery over whether Mosop and Kiplagat are married has been the subject of speculation in the Kenyan media while both athletes decline to confirm or even talk about it. Running is more important, they say.
Mosop refuses to be drawn into discussing his personal life though it is said that he wed Kiplagat in 2007, according to local and foreign media reports. “I cannot discuss my family matters,” Mosop said. “What I’m aiming is to win in Amman. I am still disappointed at missing the Beijing Olympics, gold in Edinburgh and Mombasa. That is what I am training so hard to achieve.”
That Mosop got a chance to line-up at the Kenyan trials, leave alone qualify for Amman, after a worrying injury, is a riveting tale in itself. In early 2007, Mosop was shaping up to be an emerging global distance force after winning silver at the 2007 Mombasa World Cross behind Eritrean Zersenay Tadese. To achieve that, Mosop ran without one shoe for 2km after he was spiked in the fourth lap. Considering the atrocious heat that scorched even the greatest cross-country runner in history, Kenenisa Bekele, into submission, Mosop’s rally for silver was one of the highlights from Mombasa that did not receive due recognition.
“I have never seen anyone run like Mosop did on that day,” Kenya’s physiotherapist, Peter Nduhiu said. “After he lost his shoe, he was just holding on in the bronze medal position halfway in the last lap when I shouted to him, ‘Ametoka! (He is out)’ as I ran alongside.
“I was informing him that Bekele was struggling and on hearing that, he tore up the field like a maniac and fortunately, Tadese, who was also fading, had done enough for victory,” Nduhiu disclosed.
With the world seemingly at his feet, Mosop began plotting how to get another go at Bekele and company at the 2007 track and field World Championships in Osaka. However, disaster struck. “After Mombasa, I went to Europe to compete in a couple of races and, while there, I was injured on my left foot,” Mosop said. “Then, I thought it was nothing serious and I continued training. That is when I aggravated the injury.”
Unable to train, Mosop faced the grim reality that his budding career could end.
“At times, I thought it would be all over but I believed that I would be back,” he said. “I worked with the doctors and coach and did everything they required of me.”
Mosop resumed training in October 2008 and a month later, he returned to action with a commanding victory at Wareng Tuskys Cross Country race in Eldoret. In January he was second at the Elgoibar meet in Spain and, a week later, he finished fourth at the Cross Internacional de Itálica IAAF permit meet in Sevilla. “My body was returning to shape and I felt I could return to the Kenyan team so that I can target the World Cross gold I missed in Mombasa,” Mosop said.
At the selection event, the Big Engine roared back to life with a commanding victory in the long race where he took charge with 2km to go before sprinting clear of closest challenger, Mathew Kisorio, to breeze to the tape 22 seconds ahead of the runner-up.
Mosop began competing in high school, reaching national schools championships in 2002, finishing 2nd in the 10,000m and 3rd in the steeplechase. He trained with Kenya Army athletes before 2002 World Cross trials, where he finished 3rd in the junior race and went on to place 10th in the Dublin World Cross.
The following June, Mosop took 3rd in Kenya’s World Junior track trials (28:.40.6) but was not selected for the Championships in Jamaica.
Training full time with the Army in 2003, he finished second in the trials and seventh in the Lausanne World Cross. He then signed with Manager Demadonna and ran ten races in Europe, notching PBs at 3000 (7:45.70) and 5000 (13:11.75, fourth at Lausanne GP) as well as a world age 18 best at 10,000 (27:13.66, seventh in Brussels GL, an 87-second improvement in his PB). Mosop then qualified for the inaugural World Athletics Final, placing 9th over 5000m, and was later selected to represent Kenya at the All Africa Games in Nigeria, finishing a respectable fifth in 27:56.56.
In 2004, Mosop missed the World Cross trials with injury, then ran a 13:09.68 5000m and a 27:30.66 10,000m in Europe preparing for Kenya’s Olympic trials, where he finished second (28:07.0 ) to veteran John Cheruiyot Korir. In Athens he had to content himself with seventh (27:46.61), just behind Korir, both of them demoralised by the dominance of Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.
In 2005, after an injury-hampered 18th in the men’s 12km at the St-Etienne/St-Galmier World Cross, he earned back some self-respect with fast 27:51.8 win in the Kenyan World Championships trials and was then a close third in the 10,000m at the Helsinki World Championships.
His 2006 season was hampered by an Achilles injury, but he managed a couple of fast road races in April, at Dongio and Heillecourt, finishing second by a whisker in both to countryman Edwin Soi. He also notched an impressive 5000m PB (12:54.46), though it earned him only third place in the Paris Golden League race, where he was beaten once again by Kenenisa and by Soi.
Mosop warmed up for the Kenya-hosted 2007 World Cross in minor European road and cross races, then took the Kenya Trials decisively, over, among others, Soi. After Mombasa he set his personal best in 10,000m in Hengelo timing 26:49.55 in May before he suffered the serious injury.
The fourth of nine children, whose parents are farmers in Kamasia with seven acres, Mosop was previously married to Rose Cheruiyot (no relation to the athlete). He has two daughters, Olympia Cheptoo (born 2004 of Cheruiyot) and Aisha (born 2008 of Kiplagat).
5000m: 12:54.46 (2006)
10,000m: 26:49.55 (2007)
5000/10,000: 2002 - --/28:40.6A; 2003 – 13:11.75/27:13.66; 2004 – 13:09.68/27:30.66; 2005 – 13:06.83/27:08.96; 2006 – 12:54.46/27:17.00; 2007-13:07.89/26:49.55; 2008 - -/-
2002 10th World Cross Country Championships (Junior)
2003 7th World Cross Country Championships (junior)
2003 9th World Athletics Final (5000m)
2004 7th Olympic Games (10,000m)
2005 18th World Cross County Championships (Long Race)
2005 3rd World Championships (10,000m)
2007 2nd World Cross Country Championships
Prepared by James Wokabi and Mutwiri Mutuota for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008