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Updated 11 March 2011
Moses Ndiema KIPSIRO, Uganda (5000m/10,000m, Cross Country)
Born 2 Sept 1986, Singare
Manager: Ricky Simms
Moses Kipsiro is on the verge of becoming Uganda’s most successful runner. Following his double gold medal-winning feat at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, Kipsiro is only left with an Olympic medal to become a true great. He is working towards a medal at the London 2012 Olympics. But even without an Olympic medal, Kipsiro’s awards cabinet is impressive. The Uganda Sports Press Association (Uspa) voted him Sports Personality of the Year 2007 and 2008 following his outstanding performances in international competitions. In 2007, Kipsiro captured gold at the All Africa Games and a World Championships bronze medal at 5000m.
By winning the 2008 award, Kipsiro became the first individual to be crowned Athlete and Sports Personality of the Year for two consecutive years in Uganda. Kipsiro’s claim to fame in 2008 was a fourth-place finish at the Beijing Olympics and coming second in the World Athletics Final, in Stuttgart, and he was confirmed the winner on 24 January.
However, Kipsiro lost the 2009 Sports Personality of the Year award to a local rugby side, Heathens, despite winning a silver medal at the World Cross Country Championships held March in Amman, Jordan. The medal was the first by a Ugandan athlete at the senior level. Kipsiro also finished fourth at the 2009 World Athletics Championships held in August in Berlin, Germany, and many felt he deserved the award. He was, however, named Athlete of the Year for the third time running. Following his Commonwealth Games exploits, he is in the running for the 2010 Athlete of the Year and Uspa Sports Personality of the Year awards. The 2010 awards ceremony will be held in April.
Born in Singare village, Bukwo, one of Uganda's remotest districts, Kipsiro admits that he would be living a miserable life had he not taken up athletics. "Most of my former schoolmates are doing badly," he said. "They struggle to get something to eat but I thank God. He made me what I am."
Bukwo harbours the biggest running talent but the district is one of the most disadvantaged in Uganda. There is no straight tarmac road that connects to the area from the capital city, Kampala. The easiest route is through neighbouring Kenya.
Despite his achievements, Kipsiro admits that he cannot do as much to deliver his community out of gruelling poverty. "At least I have built a decent house for my parents," he said. "I have also established a farm and there are about seven cows, which is good for the family."
The athlete remembers a time, in 1993, when the Pokot, a rival neighbour tribe (Kipsiro is a member of the Kalengin tribe) raided his home and took all their cows. "I am trying to replace the cows but it's not easy," Kipsiro said. "I hope they don't come back and take what I have bought."
One of nine brothers and four sisters, Kipsiro is now the family's sole bread winner. "My parents are farmers and can't raise enough money to help the family," he said. "I have to assist them as much as I can." The 3000m and 5000m national record holder pays school fees for all his siblings and has managed to persuade his elder brother, Ben Sande, to quit the Ugandan army to become a businessman.
"I find it difficult looking after such a big family but it's my duty," Kipsiro said. His mother used to be a primary school teacher but his father stopped her from doing the job without any convincing reason, according to Kipsiro.
Kipsiro's journey to stardom began way back in 1993 as a primary three student at Chesimat Primary School in Bukwo. Small and young as he was, Kipsiro defeated everyone in the 5000 and 10,000m at the school competitions. "People were so amazed at how a tiny boy could beat very big and older opponents," Kipsiro recalled. "I was very tough." His grandfather, mother and father, were all good athletes.
Kipsiro progressed to compete at zonal level in 1993 but couldn't make the district team until 1999 when he was in primary six. Competing at 5000m, Kipsiro finished fourth in the National Post Primary competitions in Fort Portal. The following year, he had been lured to join Koretek Primary School and he competed for them in the nationals, in Mbarara District, registering third place at 10,000m.
With every secondary school seeking to recruit him, Kipsiro chose to join Standard High, Zana, in 2001. He teamed up with compatriots Boniface Kiprop and Isaac Kiprop and they became the school's flag bearers. Representing Standard High, Kipsiro was second in the 5000m at the district level and earned a berth at the national competitions. "The coach (Godfrey Nuwagaba) fielded me in 1500m and somehow I couldn't perform," he said. "I finished eighth in one of the three heats and bowed out of the competition." That would be Kipsiro's last race in 2001. "The weather in Kampala was too unfriendly; I fell sick quite often and couldn't compete again," he said.
The following year, though, Kipsiro made his international debut at the Eastern Africa Cross Country Championships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He had made the junior team after finishing third in the nationals behind Martin Toroitich and Boniface Kiprop. He was 65th in Ethiopia, failing to make the team for the World Cross Country Championships in Dublin. "I felt disappointed after being dropped from the team," he stated.
Together with Patrick Kibwota, Kipsiro was approached to cross to Qatar and was willing to do so. However, as he attempted to travel there to begin training, his transport let him down. He failed to raise the fare from Nairobi to Kampala, where there was supposed to be a ticket for him to go to Qatar. Kibwota went alone and is now running for Qatar.
In 2003, Kipsiro won the National Cross Country Championships (junior) and travelled to Lausanne for the World Cross, finishing 18th. After Lausanne, Kipsiro joined the Ezra Track Team Board (ETTB), a local association that organises races with big money prizes. He won all the races (5000m) but one until 2004. He never competed for Uganda during that period and only returned to the national team fold in 2005, winning the National junior cross country and travelling to St-Etienne/St-Galmier, France, for the World Cross Country Championships. On this occasion he finished 21st but later that year - and now under the guidance of manager Ricky Simms of London-based PACE Sports Management - he enjoyed his first taste of track running on the European circuit.
In July 2005 Kipsiro set a national junior and senior record of 7:44.57 to win the 3000m in Zagreb and, at the Bislett Games Golden League meeting, in Oslo, he recorded a 5000m personal best of 13:13.81, finishing tenth. In August he made his major track championship debut in Helsinki, at the World Championships, but exited in the heats of the 5000m, placing 12th (13:32.75).
Still aged just 19, Kipsiro started his 2006 track season at the Commonwealth Games, in Melbourne, in March. There he finished seventh in the 5000m (13:25.06), but crucially built up more major championship experience. On 1 April he made his senior debut at the World Cross Country Championships, in Fukuoka, Japan, placing 29th in the 4km race and 23rd in the 12km long race on the following day.
Kipsiro then made great strides during the summer track season. He wiped almost 12 seconds from his lifetime best for the 5000m, with 13:01.88 for sixth in Stockholm, a race in which his compatriot and training partner, Boniface Kiprop, set a Ugandan national record of 12:57.11.
Kipsiro then went on to show his championship pedigree at the African Championships, in Bambous, Mauritius, in August. On the opening day of the track and field programme, he claimed a bronze medal in the 5000m in 14:05.20 behind Bekele (14:03.41) and Mike Kigen (14:05.20) of Kenya. However, just four days later, Kipsiro outkicked Kigen to land the gold medal in the 10,000m (28:03.46).
Training 120-150km a week in Bukwo, on the slopes of Mt Elgon, in a large group which includes Kiprop, the 2004 Olympic Games 10,000m fourth-placer, Kipsiro enjoyed a fine winter's training in 2006-07. He began the 2007 cross country season encouragingly with victory in the IAAF permit meeting in Belfast and then claimed second place – behind Edwin Soi of Kenya – in Le Mans, France.
Kiprop edged Kipsiro to win the Ugandan Cross Country Championships – although both recorded the same time – and hopes were high of a prominent showing at the World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya. However, Kipsiro was forced to pull out in mid-race with a groin injury. Facing round-the-clock treatment from British physio Jess Nugent, Kipsiro returned to competition and set a national 3000m record of 7:39.02 in taking victory at the Golden League meeting in Paris in July.
Later that month, Kipsiro won gold in the 5000m at the All Africa Games, in Algiers. He produced a perfectly timed sprint for the line to overhaul Kenya's Kiprono Menjo and Tariku Bekele – brother of Kenenisa – in the final 30 metres to win in 13:12.51.
His outstanding season continued when he set a national 3000m record of 7:32.03 to finish second behind Kenenisa in Monaco. He then produced an outstanding performance at the World Championships in Osaka. In a slow, tactical race, Bernard Lagat (US) struck gold in 13:45.87 ahead of Kipchoge (13:46.00) with Kipsiro snatching third in 13:46.75. Kipsiro said: "The race started very slowly but, with three laps to go, the pace got much faster and, in the end, I couldn't maintain. In the last few metres I felt someone was coming back on me. I saw behind and just had time to lean forward. But really I exceeded my expectations."
In September Kipsiro’s progress continued apace in Brussels. The Ugandan set a new national record of 12:50.72 to place third in the 5000m behind Ethiopia's Sileshi Sihine. Kipsiro's time was also good enough for fourth on the 2007 World Lists.
He started 2008 in fine fettle, too. Running on snow for the first time, he comfortably retained his Belfast Cross Country title at the Stormont Estate. He followed this up by outsprinting reigning World Cross Country champion Zersenay Tadese, of Eritrea, in the IAAF permit meeting in Sevilla after both were credited with the same time. Kipsiro also landed the Ugandan Cross Country title. In the absence of Kiprop, he romped to a 16-seconds victory over Nicholas Kiprono on the Soroti Golf Course in February.
Kipsiro suffered a back strain while finishing 13th in the World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, in March, and it ruled him out of the African Championships in Addis Ababa (April 30-May 4). Returning with some smaller races, he then finished third in the opening Golden League meeting of 2008 in Berlin's Olympic stadium. He clocked 12:54.70 behind Kenyan Moses Masai (12:50.55) and Ethiopian Tariku Bekele (12:52.45).
After a training stint in London, Kipsiro went to the Beijing Olympics in August praying for a good performance. A stitch and lack of a coach in the run-up to the 5000m Final conspired to deny Kipsiro an Olympic medal. He needed massage on his legs shortly before the Final but Uganda’s team coach, Benjamin Longiross, was already on his way to the airport heading back home. “I implored UOC (Uganda Olympic Committee) officials to change my ticket so that I could be by Kipsiro’s side but nothing was done about the issue,” Longiross said. “I think he should have won a medal.”
Kipsiro eventually finished fourth but was more disappointed to lose the final podium position to Kenyan Edwin Soi. “Days after the Olympics, I beat Soi in Zürich (Weltklasse Golden League),” he said. “I felt so bad because he also knew I was stronger going to Beijing. But on the whole, it was a great experience competing at the Olympics for the first time.”
Although he missed out on a medal, Kipsiro returned home as Uganda’s best performer in Beijing. Six days after competing in Beijing, Kipsiro clocked 12:59:48 to finish second behind Ethiopian Olympic 5000m/10,000m champion Kenenisa Bekele (12:50:18) in Zürich. Soi (13:07:98) was fourth. In September, the Ugandan runner placed second (13:23.02) at the World Athletics Final, in Stuttgart, behind Soi (13:22:81).
On 23 November, Kipsiro competed in what was thought to be a 10km race at the Kampala Marathon. Recording 26:44, it was thought that he had broken Haile Gebreselassie’s 27:02 World record but, to Kipsiro’s disappointment, it was later discovered that the route was considerably short of 10km.
As he had promised before the Olympics, Kipsiro walked down the aisle with his long time girlfriend Benna Chebet on 13 December. “I have been responsible in my duties at home and will continue to be very supportive of my parents and siblings. I know Chebet will give me the necessary support in my responsibilities,” Kipsiro told his guests at a reception held at Bukwo Pentecostal Church.
Kipsiro started the 2009 season on a high by edging Ethiopian Tariku Bekele in a photo-finish in the IAAF cross country permit meeting in Sevilla. At the National Cross Country Championships in Kapchorwa District on 14 February, Kipsiro was an easy winner of the 12km senior men’s race.
Kipsiro spent three weeks in residential training with the national team (juniors and seniors) ahead of the World Cross Country Championships. While in the camp in Kapchorwa, a neighbouring district to Bukwo, Kipsiro offered his vehicle to facilitate the team’s training. The vehicle was used to transport athletes from the camp to nearby villages where they had their road runs. “Kipsiro has been so supportive,” national coach Nalis Bigingo said. “We train about three times a day and I don’t know how the situation would be without this vehicle. He got us a driver who takes us around the place. As coaches, we drive slowly behind the runners until the end of the sessions.” Kipsiro spent in the excess of 25 US dollars per day to fuel the car for the three weeks.
Kipsiro complained of excessive weight prior to the World Cross Country but surprisingly grabbed silver in Jordan. “That race was very hard. The wind was very strong and the opponents even stronger,” Kipsiro said after returning from Jordan on 30 March. “But I thank God that I came back home with something,” he added.
Kipsiro narrowly lost the gold to Ethiopian Gebre Gebremariam, who made a come-from-behind strong dash to beat the field in 35:02. “It’s hard to believe he (Gebremariam) took that gold medal. I was only looking at Kenyan runners and the Eritrean (Zersenay Tadese). I knew I was in control but somehow I couldn’t react to his sprint,” recalled Kipsiro, who crossed the line in 35:04.
In the build-up to the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Kipsiro limited himself to a few track races to avoid a burn-out. He only competed twice in Uganda, winning a 10,000m race in 28:15.0 at a national trial and 1,500m in 3:45.6 at the national championships on 24 July.
His biggest track triumph came at the Herculis Super Grand Prix, Monaco on 28 July. He won the 3,000m in a new national record and PB of 7:30.95. He spared some time to compete in a 10km charity road race organised by Stanbic Bank and International School of Uganda (ISU) to raise money for disadvantaged children. Kipsiro (29:26.4) beat his cousin Simon Ayeko (29:31.2) in the race held on 26 April.
Keen to make Uganda proud, Kipsiro won his semi-final race in Berlin and looked a good bet for a medal, but could only finish fourth in the Final. “I was so disappointed,” Kipsiro said of his experience in Berlin. Still, he was the country’s best performer among the 11 runners that competed in Berlin.
Kipsiro left Berlin complaining about a minor Achilles injury and survived further getting hurt by a whisker during political riots in the capital, Kampala, in October. His car was badly damaged but the runner used his legs to escape unhurt, a day after his wife Chebet had given birth to their first born.
Kipsiro opened the 2010 season with a dominant display at the National Cross Country Championships on 6 February, where he easily won the 12km race in 32:42 and a sixth-place finish two weeks later at “World's Best” 10km in Puerto Rico (27:55).
He was again at it at the World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, snatching bronze in 33:10. Kenyan Joseph Ebuya put up a strong display to win that 12km race in 33:00 followed by Eritrean Teklemariam Medhin (33:06). Kipsiro said he was lucky to edge Kenyan Leonard Komon (33:10) to the bronze as they both recorded the same time. “I didn’t know I had beaten him because it was too close to call,” Kipsiro said. Although the junior women’s team scooped bronze, Kipsiro returned to Kampala as the only individual medalist at the Poland event.
Before the Africa Senior Championships held 28 July – 1 August in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, the Ugandan star clocked 13:00.15 en route to finishing third at the Samsung Diamond League in Rome on 10 June. He also recorded a fifth-place finish (13:02.10) at the Aviva British Grand Prix, in Gateshead, on 10 July.
In Nairobi, Kipsiro was again one of Uganda’s two medalists after denying Kenya a long distance clean sweep by snatching silver in 27:33.37, a Personal Best, behind Wilson Kiprop (27:32.91) in the 10,000m. Although his efforts to grab a double were dashed after he finished fourth in the 5,000m, Kipsiro said he was content with the display. “It’s always a hard task to win medals in both races at such a championship. It’s equally difficult to beat Kenyans at their home,” he said.
His performance in Nairobi earned him a slot at the IAAF Continental Cup held 4-5 September in Split, Croatia. Representing Africa in both 3000m and 5000m. Kipsiro clocked 7:54.98 and 13:58.35 respectively, to finish second behind American Bernard Lagat (13:58.23 and 7:54.75) at both distances. Although he was hurt by surrendering top slot in the dying moments of the longer race, where he was mostly in the lead from 3000m until some 70m from the finish, Kipsiro returned to Kampala a happy man. “It’s a great honour to represent Africa and Uganda at such an event,” Kipsiro said.
That display in Split also spurred him to shine at the Delhi-hosted Commonwealth Games in October. Out of 68 sportsmen that represented Uganda in India, Kipsiro was the only one to step on the podium. In the 5,000m final, Kipsiro overcame a stiff challenge from Olympic silver medalist Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya to take gold in 13:31.25. Kipchoge settled for silver in 13:31.32.
Many were quick to call Kipsiro’s victory a big upset, but he silenced his critics by snatching victory in the 10,000m three days later. After a patient start, Kipsiro delivered a devastating attack in the final lap to hold off a fiercely charging Daniel Lemashon Salel. Kipsiro came home in 27:57.39, becoming the first athlete to win the long distance double in 72 years. “I came here confident of winning. Even God knew that I badly wanted to win,” Kipsiro said after clinching the memorable double. Salel posted 27:57.57 for second.
On returning home, Kipsiro got a red-carpet reception at Entebbe Airport with hundreds of excited fans lining up to catch a glimpse of their star. President Museveni, who had earlier phoned the runner to wish him good luck before the 10,000m final, hosted Kipsiro and teammates to a State dinner. The President gave Kipsiro a Shs20m (20,000 US dollars) token and promised to build a running track and athletics camp in the runner’s home town. For over a month, parties were held across the country to celebrate the runner’s achievement with the most prominent being in his home town, where the government spent close to 50,000 US dollars. Kipsiro was, though, unhappy saying such money should have been invested in developing athletics.
Due to inadequate preparations, Kipsiro suffered his first loss on the local scene since 2007 when he finished fourth in the Kampala Marathon subsidiary race (10km) won by Moses Kibet on 5 December. To prove that it was a slight slump, Kipsiro bounced back in the New Year to lift the National Cross country senior men’s title for a record fourth successive time on 12 February. Kipsiro clocked 36:34, coming home comfortably ahead of Stephen Kiprotich (37:02). Barring any injuries, Kipsiro hopes to clinch another medal at the World Cross Country Championships due 20 March in Punta Umbria, Spain.
Simms says of Kipsiro: "On the outside he is very modest but on the inside he has great desire." Kipsiro is also a passionate follower of football and supports English Premier League team Manchester United.
3000m: 7:30.95 NR (2009)
5000m: 12:50.72 NR (2007)
10,000m: 27:33.37A (2010)
3000/5000/10,000m: 2005 – 7:44.57/13:13.81; 2006 – 7:43.94/13:01.88/28.03.46; 2007– 7:32.03/12:50.72; 2008 – 7:32.42/12:54.70; 2009 – 7:30.95/12:59.27/28:15.0; 2010 –7:54.98/13:00.15/ 27:33.37A
2003 18th World Cross Country Championships (junior race)
2005 21st World Cross Country Championships (junior race)
2006 29th World Cross Country Championships (short course)
2006 23rd World Cross Country Championships (long course)
2006 7th Commonwealth Games (5000m)
2006 3rd African Championships (5000m)
2006 1st African Championships (10,000m)
2007 1st All Africa Games (5000m)
2007 3rd World Championships (5000m)
2007 7th World Athletics Final (3000m)
2008 13th World Cross Country Championships
2008 4th Olympic Games (5000m)
2008 2nd` World Athletics Final (5000m)
2009 2nd World Cross Country Championships
2009 4th World Championships in Athletics (5000m)
2010 3rd World Cross Country Championships
2010 2nd Africa Championships (10,000m)
2010 4th African Championships (5000m)
2010 2nd Continental Cup (5000m)
2010 2nd Continental Cup (3000m)
2010 1st Commonwealth Games (5000m)
2010 1st Commonwealth Games (10,000m)
Prepared by Sande Bashaija and Steve Landells for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008-2011