Updated 23 August 2007
Richard Kipkemboi MATELONG, Kenya (3000m Steeplechase)
Born 14 October 1983, Lenape, Narok District, Rift Valley Province, Kenya
Constable, Kenya Police.
Lives mainly in Nyeri as PT instructor in Kenya Police College. Trains in Nyahururu.
Native language: Nandi (Kalenjin).
Fifth of nine children. Parents farmers in Lenape with 15 acres.
Married Ruth Chepkemoi in 2005. Son Kipchumba born 2006.
Completed Amalo Secondary School 2001.
Manager: Gianni Demadonna. Coach: self-coached.
Richard Kipkemboi Matelong, who developed his fitness by running five kilometres to school and back in his first year of secondary, began competing that year at the urging of a teacher. He reached provincial level in schools competition in 1500m and Steeplechase.
Matelong joined Kenya Police in 2002 and emerged as an athlete in inter-unit competition. He represented the Police in the 2003 National Championships, finishing 9th in the Steeplechase, attracting the attention of German manager Silvia Abmayr, who arranged European competitions for him the following year.
Winning the 2004 Police Championship in Steeplechase (8:50.2 h), Matelong ran 8:17.28 two days later to win in Rehlingen. He returned to Kenya for the Olympic trials, placing 5th in 8:25.2 (h). Selected to represent Kenya in the African Championships, in Brazzaville, he won the silver in 8:26.34 behind team-mate David Chemweno. Four more European races followed, highlighted by a win in Heusden (8:11.33), a PB 6th at the Brussels Golden League (8:05.96) and 5th at the World Athletics Final (8:14.22).
After a promising start in the Osaka GP (2nd in 8:17.60), 2005 was a disappointing season. In five major European competitions, he finished no better than 4th, scoring his season’s best again in the Brussels Golden League with 6th in 8:10.97. At Kenya’s World Championship trials, he was a disappointing 8th in 8:33.5 (h).
2006 was a different story. In 12 European races, he finished in the top 2 nine times, with a season’s best of 8:07.50 in the Rome Golden League (world’s 3rd best in 2006) and a solid 2nd (2:08.62) behind countryman Paul Kipsielei Koech at the World Athletics Final.
Early in 2007, Matelong won the Police Cross Country Championships and then the Kenyan Nationals, in Mombasa, both by solid margins. He fell to 13th in the Kenyan trials for the World Cross Country Championships, in Nairobi, as a result of stomach cramps. He was invited to Kenya’s World Cross training camp and earned himself a spot in the team. Sadly, he was one of the many at the World Cross in Mombasa to succumb to the extreme heat and fail to finish.
Matelong has run just three Steeplechases on the European circuit this season, but his 2nd place 8:06.66, behind Kenya’s Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi in Athens, is the fourth best performance of 2007, and his comfortable 3rd at the Kenyan trials (8:18.44 at 1700 m altitude), ahead of such veterans as 2000 Olympic champion Reuben Kosgei and world list leader Koech, shows he deserves his spot in the Kenyan team.
2004 - 8:05.96; 2005 - 8:10.97; 2006 - 8:07.50; 2007 – 8:06.66.
2004 – 2nd, African Championships
2006 – 2nd, World Athletics Final
2007 – dnf, World Cross Country Championships
Prepared by John Manners for the IAAF ’Focus on Athletes’ project. © IAAF 2007.