Kipchoge Keino

Kipchoge Keino is Kenya’s most decorated Olympian. No athlete has won more Olympic medals than him.All in all he won 2 Olympic gold medals and 2 silver medals. At the Commonwealth games, he won 3 gold medals and 1 bronze.

He was born on January 17 1940 in Kipsamo Nandi district.Upon finishing secondary school he joined the Kenya Police. He started his sporting career as a rugby player but switched to Athletics.

Keino was 24-years-old before he competed at his first Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964 where he finished 10th and fifth in the 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters respectively.

In 1965 he broke two world records: the 3,000m at Helsingborg in Sweden in seven minutes 39.6 seconds (his first attempt at the distance); and the 5,000m in Auckland in 13 minutes 24.2 seconds. In the 1966 Commonwealth games, Keino won the mile and 3 mile race. That same year, he won the 1500m and the 5000m at the inaugural All Africa games held in Brazzaville.

Keino is not only Kenya’s greatest Olympian but also has what is probably the most epic and heroic achievement in the history of Kenyan sports; At the 1968 Olympics, Keino was suffering from gallstones and participated in the Olympics against his doctor’s advice. he was sick throughout the games. He finished second in the 5000m and in the 10,000m he collapsed due to stomach cramps with only a few laps to go. Due to his medical issues, he thus opted out of the 1500m final, which was to be run the following day, only to change his mind a few minutes before the race began. He then jogged from his hotel room and arrived just in time to start the race. He won the race in style. Jim Ryun of the United states was heavily favored. Ryun was known to have a devastating finishing kick. Keino thus opted for unorthodox tactics. He took off at a blistering pace and was soon 40 metres ahead of the pack. Everyone thought he would tire himself out especially since he had already run the 5000m and the 10,000m. He did not tire and ended up finishing 20 meters ahead of the field to win gold. Pre-race favourite Jim Ryun was shell shocked as were the USA fans.  If he was American, they would have made movie about him.
At the 1970 Commonwealth games, Keino won the 1500m and finished 3rd in the 5000m. Indeed Keino always participated in multiple races.

At the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Keino opted for the 3000m Steeplechase. He had only participated in four steeplechase races prior to the Olympics and had won only one race at this event. On top of this, he was using an unorthodox hurdling style. No one expected him to win. Compatriot Ben Jipcho and Finnish runner Tapio Kantanen were the favourites. Keino won in style.

By the 1973 All Africa games, Keino was at the tail end of hos career. He won silver in the 1500m and soon after that he hung up his running spikes.

Kip Keino is the only Kenyan sportsman ever to appear on the Cover of world famous sports magazine, “Sports Illustrated” (December 21 1987).

In July of 2012, Kip Keino was inducted into the international athletics hall of fame becoming one of the 24 inaugural members.

Author: players