|800 Metres||1:56.99||Paris Saint-Denis (Stade de France)||04 JUL 2015|
|1500 Metres||4:01.54||Eugene (Hayward Field), OR||31 MAY 2014|
|3000 Metres||8:53.12||Eugene (Hayward Field), OR||02 JUN 2012|
|2016||1:57.47||Monaco (Stade Louis II)||15 JUL|
|2015||1:56.99||Paris Saint-Denis (Stade de France)||04 JUL|
|2014||1:57.92||Monaco (Stade Louis II)||18 JUL|
|2013||1:57.38||Moskva (Luzhniki)||18 AUG|
|2012||1:59.13||Porto Novo||01 JUL|
|2014||4:01.54||Eugene (Hayward Field), OR||31 MAY|
|2013||4:02.05||Doha (Hamad Bin Suhaim)||10 MAY|
|2012||4:04.26||Paris Saint-Denis (Stade de France)||06 JUL|
|2011||4:12.41||Doha (Hamad Bin Suhaim)||06 MAY|
|2012||8:53.12||Eugene (Hayward Field), OR||02 JUN|
|The XXXI Olympic Games||7sf2||2:00.88||Rio de Janeiro (Estádio Olímpico)||18 AUG 2016|
|15th IAAF World Championships||3||1:58.18||Beijing (National Stadium)||29 AUG 2015|
|2nd IAAF Continental Cup 2014||1||1:58.21||Marrakech (Le Grande Stade)||13 SEP 2014|
|14th IAAF World Championships||1||1:57.38||Moskva (Luzhniki)||18 AUG 2013|
|13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics||3sf1||1:59.94||Daegu (DS)||02 SEP 2011|
|The XXX Olympic Games||9h2||4:16.95||London (Olympic Stadium)||06 AUG 2012|
Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.
Updated 18 August 2015
Eunice Jepkoech SUM, Kenya (800m, 1500m)
Born: 10 April, 1988, Kesses Village, Uasin Gishu County
Coach: Claudio Berardelli
Manager: Federico Rosa
Team: Kenya Police
Marital Status: Single
Family: Sixth born in a family of 10
Sum is a first cousin to 2007 World Men 800m champion, Alfred Kirwa Yego and is mentored by 2007 Women’s World champion, Janeth Jepkosgei.
As curtains came down on the successful 2013 Moscow World Championships during the last track final of an enthralling programme, Eunice Sum seized - perhaps inadvertently- that defining moment to give the watching Russian public, joined by millions around the globe, a gripping anti-climax.
When she was done, the shock of the championships, a crestfallen home crowd jam-packed at the majestic Luzhniki Stadium, an eruption of spontaneous jubilation half a world away and disbelief anywhere else were left in her slipstream as Sum celebrated being a World champion.
In the mad minutes that followed her lifetime best performance of 1:57.38, Maria Savinova, Russia’s Olympic gold medallist and defending World 800m women champion who was in peak form, ready to win another home gold in front of a crowd which included many of her family and friends, was left to pick up the pieces despite her silver lining.
For Sum, that spectacular triumph proved to be the catalyst of her career take-off, as she added the IAAF Diamond League (DL) crown shortly after, before ascending to the Commonwealth and African titles besides holding on to her elite circuit crown in 2014.
But that triumphant run at the Luzhniki Stadium will forever define her legacy.
“Not really. I was going step-by-step here. In Daegu two years ago, I didn’t get to the final. I am really happy with gold but I didn’t really expect to get to the podium. It came as a surprise, and I am really happy,” Sum summed her stunning victory.
It took the direct intervention of 2007 World champion and Beijing 2008 Olympic silver medallist, Janeth Jepkosgei, for Eunice Sum’s sporting talent to be shaped into a blossoming athletics career that has thus far, taken her to two World Championships and the Olympics Games.
Having displayed flashes of her gift in her primary and secondary school days, Sum, who started out in handball before venturing to Heptathlon and 400m, settled on the 800m race, but also dallies in the 1500m.
The journey from the backwater Kesses Village to the grandest arenas of her sport has been inspiring as she sets about following the medalled footsteps of her mentor who has all but passed the running baton to her but still keeps over a watchful eye.
Jepkosgei, with World and Commonwealth 800m titles to top the silver medals she won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2009 Berlin Worlds and 2010 African Championships, qualifies to be the best ‘athletics mother’ to Sum, who turned 25 on 10 April.
“She came for me at home when I was lost and took me under her care and since then, I have rediscovered my focus and I’m happy to make the World Championships for the first time with the qualifying time,” Sum says.
Her impressive talent was evident at an early age, dangling athletics with handball in her formative primary school years.
“I was not interested in training and used to compete and beat other pupils at 200m and 400m and I would qualify for the Districts without much effort. Handball was the game I took a liking to and played for my team to the nationals,” she narrated.
She resisted following the path trodden by her cousin Alfred Kirwa Yego, who was only two classes ahead of her as he made his impact at junior level, competing at the 2004 World Juniors where he won silver.
“Alfred was urging me to take up running, as he excelled in school but I did not take that seriously. Today, I’m living with him since I want to excel.
“I was admitted to Itigo Girls for my secondary educations but my parents could not afford it so I was enrolled at the nearby Moi University Secondary which was a day school,” Sum added. Itigo, in Western Kenya, is famed for its sporting prowess with a number of national and regional titles under their belts in football, handball, hockey and volleyball.
At Moi, she juggled Heptathlon and handball in her first two years, reaching the nationals in the former and in her latter two years, dallied with 400m where she also sailed to the schools finals.
It was at the finals where renowned coach, David Letting, told her to try 800m running, where she raced to 2:12 on her first attempt and returning a year later, lowered the time to 2:09.
Upon completion of studies in 2006, Sum veered off her career progression and daughter Diana Jeruto was welcomed to the world in 2008, following a failed relationship with a man who took off after she fell pregnant.
The Osaka World champion, who is a training partner and friend to her cousin, then took the initiative to rescue the young single mother and introduced the raw Sum to her coach, Claudio Berardelli and manager Federico Rosa, who took her under their wing. At the 2009 Trials for Berlin World Championships, the upstart finished fifth.
A year later, as Kenya hosted the African Athletics Championships, Sum made the team but could not reach the final and in 2011, the rapidly improving runner dipped under 2:00 for the first time when she ran 1:59.66 at altitude to finish second at the Daegu Trials just behind her guide, Jepkosgei (1:59.34).
“It is our wish to ensure her career grows gradually. I see her winning a medal at next year’s Olympics and the World Championships after that. For Daegu, our aim is to ensure she qualifies for the finals,” ‘mother Janeth’ stressed at the time.
“Should I qualify for the final, anything can happen but it will be more than a dream for me and all what I can ask for now. Training with Janeth has shown me what it takes, the discipline required to be at the top as well as the patience,” Sum added.
However, her debut ended with a third place finish (1:59.94) at the semis, with her time not fast enough to enter her in the final as a best loser, her effort at the selection event for Daegu accounting for her season’s best.
“I learnt a lot at the event, how to compete against the best the world has to offer and although I did not make the finals, I was convinced I could make it in the sport,” Sum summed her Daegu experience.
The Olympic year of 2012 saw Sum compete for her nation in two events over two distances, as she took a keen interest in the 1500m race besides her chosen two-lap speciality.
Having won her first national title in 800m (1:59.75hA/15 June), Sum went on to bag silver at the African Championships in Porto Novo, Benin, in a career best performance of 1:59.13 (1 July) that was ranked 19th worldwide for 2012.
Against all expectations, she opted to race in the 1500m at the London Olympics Kenyan Trials (23 June) where she nailed an automatic slot in the team with a 4:07.19hA effort for second behind winner and World Indoor titleholder, Hellen Obiri.
However, illness before she left for London saw her come unstuck in the heats of the competition, where a tenth finish in the second preliminary race ended her interest in the competition. “I had some flu like symptoms that made it hard for me to reach my peak. I was very disappointed I could not do better at my first Olympics but there is always a next time and I hope to be there again,” she
Sum split her 2013 between her favoured distances as she focused on making the Kenyan team for the Moscow Worlds. During the 13 July Kenyan Trials, she recorded a first domestic victory over her mentor in the two-lap race, the clocks returning 1:59.3 against 1:59.7 (hA) in a closely contested finish as the pair booked automatic slots for Russia.
She devoted her international outings to the longer event, being rewarded with a 4:02.05 lifetime best (10 May) at the Diamond League meet in Doha and later that month, won the World Challenge meet in Beijing in 4:04.49 as she enjoy a blistering start to the summer campaign.
As build-up to the Moscow World Championships, Sum ran the second leg in the Kenyan quartet consisting of future teammates in Russia, Jepkosgei, Winny Chebet and Obiri (1500m) at the invitational Penn Relays in the USA, in the seldom competed 4X800m Relay as they came second in 8:07.58 (27 April).
“The first aim in Moscow is shared among us, to make the finals, then from there we can all go for the medals. I will be delighted to get one but for now, I have learned how hard it is to compete at the World Championships so, I’m taking it a step at a time,” she stressed before packing her bags for Russia.
Sum motored unchallenged through her opening round in 2:00.49 and semi in 2:00.70 to book her place in the medal race alongside her ‘mum’ Jepkosgei.
Steve Landells, writing for the IAAF website, introduced it thus; “Russian hearts were broken inside the Luzhniki Stadium as the home favourite Mariya Savinova, known as ‘the chess player’, was tactically out-manoeuvred by the unheralded Kenyan Eunice Sum in an absorbing final.”
On the track however, Sum simply timed her finish to perfection, keeping closest to long-time leader Alysia Johnson Montano before holding off the challenge from Savinova down the home straight to steal the thunder from the favoured Russian as she shaved her pervious lifetime best by nearly two seconds to defeat the Russian by 0.42 in a time of 1:57.38.
“If you see how I performed at the beginning of the season, I did more 1500s than 800s, but I decided to do the 800m at the trials. I had watched the first round and the semi-finals and saw Alysia was going to set a high pace. Today I thought she was going through 400m in 55 seconds. I said to myself, ‘I will stay a little bit behind.’ So I was comfortable,” she added on her memorable triumph in an indication of her tactical awareness that propelled her to global headlines.
If anyone thought Savinova had her calculations wrong on the day, as it was claimed, Sum went ahead to prove it is she with the wind in her sails, with back-to-back victories over the Olympic titleholder in Stockholm (1:58.84) and the Zürich final (1:58.82) inside a week to cap a glorious summer with her maiden Diamond Trophy as she returned home to a rousing party.
In 2014, she picked off from where she left, stringing eight wins in succession over two-laps to underline her status as the queen of 800m running - four in the DL (Doha/1:59.33, Rome/1:59.49, Oslo/1:59.02 and Lausanne/1:58.48).
She however, could not lead her team to gold at the inaugural World Relays in the Bahamas, despite powering on all cylinders in the anchor leg as USA ran out winners with the Kenyan quartet - that also included Jepkosgei, Agatha Kimaswai and Sylvia Chesebe - settled for silver in 8:04.28, an African record nonetheless.
Her early outdoor campaign in May also saw her run her lifetime best of 4:01.54 in 1500m at the Eugene DL meet in Oregon.
American runner, Ajee Wilson handed Sum her first 800m defeat in 13 at the Monaco DL meeting to snap her hot-streak, although she ran her year best and Number 3 time of 2014 of 1:57.92 in the process. But it only proved to be a minor blip in her ascendancy, as she added the Commonwealth (2:00.31) and African (1:59.45) titles to her expanding honours list in another richly rewarding August, that saw her included in Africa’s team for her maiden IAAF Continental Cup showdown in Marrakech, Morocco.
Already confirmed as a Diamond Race winner for the second successive season after another second finish in Birmingham behind home girl Lynsey Sharp (1:59.14 against 1:59.42) to close the month, Sum contested the Brussels final where she posted her lowest finish since Moscow, placing third (1:58.94), but became the only Kenyan to hold on to her DL title in 2014.
Further success followed when she ran 1:58.21 to win the Continental Cup honours in Morocco for Team Africa, where it was clear that she was determined to finish her season on a high.
“It has been a season full of winning,” said Sum. “This time it is not for my country but for the whole continent. It is a big achievement for me. I didn’t panic when Ajee went past me,” she said after beating Wilson (2:00.07) and Belarusian Marina Arzamasova to the podium having hauled back from being overtaken by the American with 200m to go to sprint for glory.
Come 2015, the Moscow champion showed no signs of letting up, stringing a sequence of six victories in 800m to leave her in pole position for her defence of the Diamond League title and more importantly, the woman to beat at the Beijing Worlds after being omitted from the Kenyan team for the second Bahamas IAAF World Relays in the distance medley.
Sum and Jepkosgei were not considered for selection after failing to heed Athletics Kenya (AK) call to participate in the local Safaricom Relay Series meetings.
That dusted, Diamond League victories in Shanghai (2:00.28), Eugene (1:57.82) and Birmingham (1:59.85) between 17 May and 7 June set the stage for a commanding personal best performance of 1:56.99 at the Areva meeting in Paris Saint-Denis on 4 July.
Sum took up a position right behind the pace maker before taking over the lead with 250 metres to go to close in the world leading mark. Rose Mary Almanza tried to challenge the Kenyan, but the latter was too strong down the stretch to win by 0.71 of a second from the Cuban.
More honours followed in London (1:58.44) on 25 July before returning home a week later to blow away the competition at the 1 August Kenyan Trials. Sum lead the women 800m charge to Beijing as expected ahead of her tutor Janeth Jepkosgei with clocks returning 1:59.46 against 2:00.42 in the punishing elevation of Nairobi.
She was quick to temper down her status as the overwhelming favourite for the gold in China.
“It was really about taking it easy and I could not go out as I do in the Diamond League. Being beaten at home would have sent a message to those out there and I’m happy about it and I ran well. I’m ready for the World Championships.
“The World Championships is a tricky race since there are no pace-makers. First is to go through the rounds, semis and the make the final, there are good Americans out there and I’m not going for any record out there. You cannot go there saying you have the world leading time. I have to run my own race,” she asserted.
800m: 1:56.99 (2015)
1500m: 4:01.54 (2014)
800m: 2010-2:00.28; 2011-1:59.66; 2012-1:59.13; 2013- 1:57.38; 2014-1:57.92; 2015-1:56.99
1500m: 2011-4:12.41; 2012-4:04.26; 2013-4:02.05; 2014-4:01.54; 2015-4:09.7hA
2010 3rd National Championships, Nairobi (800m) 2:02.55A
2010 4h2 African Athletics Championships, Nairobi (800m) 2:08.71A
2011 2nd National Championships, Nairobi (800m) 1:59.66A
2011 3sf1 World Championships, Daegu (800m) 1:59.94
2012 2nd National Championships, Nairobi (800m) 1:59.75A
2012 2nd African Athletics Championships, Porto Novo (800m) 1:59.13
2012 2nd Kenya Olympic Trials, Nairobi (1500m) 4:07.19A
2012 10h2 Olympic Games, London (1500m) 4:16.95
2013 2nd National Championships, Nairobi (800m) 2:00.06A
2013 1st World Championships Trials, Nairobi (800m) 1:59.3hA
2013 1st World Championships , Moscow (800m) 1:57.38
2013 1st IAAF Diamond League Race (800m)
2014 2nd World Relays, Bahamas (4X800m) 8:04.28
2014 1st National Championships, Nairobi (800m) 2:01.82A
2014 1st Commonwealth Games, Glasgow (800m) 2:00.31
2014 1st African Championships (800m) 1:59.45
2014 1st IAAF Diamond League Race (800m)
2014 1st Continental Cup, Marrakech (800m) 1:58.29
Prepared by James Wokabi and Mutwiri Mutuota for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. © IAAF 2014-2015