The great disappointment that turned Eliud Kipchoge from ordinary track runner into marathon stardom

Double Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge has revealed how one disappointment 12 years ago shaped him into the marathon legend that he is today.

Kenyan marathon legend Eliud Kipchoge has described how missing a slot at the 2012 London Olympics changed the trajectory his athletics career.

Kipchoge was a revered 5,000m and 3,000m runner who won gold and silver in the former at the World Championships (2003 and 2007) and Olympics silver and bronze (2004 and 2008) over the distance but finished seventh in the 2012 Olympics trials, missing out on the London Games.

Having been an ever-present figure at the World Championships and Olympics, missing out on London hit him hard and got him thinking about changing the course of his career.

“In 2012, I missed a slot to London Olympics. I ran 5,000m and 3,000m for 10 years and I was successful and did not miss any championships for 10 years,” Kipchoge told the LOAF Podcast.

“Commonwealth, Olympics or World Championships but in 2012, I missed a slot and I sat with the management and coach and asked; ‘I have missed a slot what will happen?’”

It is then that Kipchoge decided a career on the road was best for him and even though he was venturing into the unknown, he had a strong belief in his capabilities.

“Then the aspect of making transition to the road came in and I took it. I left track and field and transited to the road. Running 10k, 15k, half marathon and finally transitioning to the full marathon,” he went on.

“I made a firm decision. No retreat, no surrender. I move in one faith and focus on the goal and that is why I am here now.”

Kipchoge would make his half marathon debut in Lille later in 2012, clocking with 59:25, the second fastest half marathon debut at the time, behind compatriot Moses Mosop’s mark of 59:20, managed in Milan two years earlier.

Kenyan Ezekiel Chebii clocked a course record 59:05 to win the race followed by countryman Bernard Koech (59:10) as the East African nation swept the podium.

In October 2012, Kipchoge featured in the World Half Marathon Championships in Kavarna, Bulgaria and finished sixth but he would get his first half marathon victory in Barcelona in early 2013.

After that, Kipchoge made his full marathon debut in April 2013 in Hamburg, winning the race in a new course record 2:05:30, before a second-place finish in Berlin the following year, when Kenyan Wilson Kipsang broke the world record.

Kipchoge never looked back after that, going on to win 15 of the 18 competitive marathons he has featured in, including five wins in Berlin, where he broke two world records, four in London as well as two Olympics gold medals.

He is now targeting to become the first man to claim three straight Olympics marathon titles at the upcoming Paris 2024 Games.

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