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Medal record

Men's athletics
Competitor for the  United States
World Championships
Gold 2007 Osaka 1500 m
Gold 2007 Osaka 5000 m
Silver 2009 Berlin 5000 m
Bronze 2009 Berlin 1500 m
Competitor for the  United States
World Indoor Championships
Gold 2010 Doha 3000 m
Competitor for  Kenya
Olympic Games
Silver 2004 Athens 1500 m
Bronze 2000 Sydney 1500 m
World Championships
Silver 2001 Edmonton 1500 m
World Indoor Championships
Gold 2004 Budapest 3000 m
Silver 2003 Birmingham 1500 m

Bernard Kipchirchir Lagat (born December 12, 1974, Kapsabet, Kenya) is a middle and long distance champion athlete who now represents the United States. In July, 2008, Lagat won the US Olympic Trials in the 1500 m and 5000 m, making the US Olympic team in both events. In August 2009, he won the 5000m silver and 1500m bronze medal at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.


Early life

Lagat, now a Kenyan American, was born in Kaptel village, near Kapsabet town in Nandi District. He is a Nandi, sub-tribe of the Kalenjin people.

He graduated from the Kaptel High School in 1994, where he had started his athletics career. He joined Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Nairobi 1996. Later in the same year he moved to Washington State University where other Kenyan athletic greats such as Henry Rono and Michael Kosgei prospered.

In 1998, while at WSU, Lagat won three NCAA individual championships; indoor mile and 3000m, as well as the 5000m outdoors.

In 2000, Lagat graduated from Washington State University—as athletic greats from Kenya had done before him—with a degree in management information systems.

A large number of Lagat's siblings have also competed in athletics; his older sister Mary Chepkemboi won the 3000 m at the 1994 African Championships in Athletics.[1] Lagat's younger brother, Robert Cheseret, is a multi-time PAC-10 champion runner for the University of Arizona

Representing Kenya (2000-2004)

Lagat first represented his native Kenya at 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.[2] Using team tactics, Lagat and Kenyan team mate Noah Ngeny kept heavy favorite Hicham el Guerrouj from winning gold. In a very close finish, Ngeny took gold, Guerrouj won Silver, and Lagat captured bronze. Lagat finished the year being ranked #3 in the world at 1500m.

The next summer, Lagat won the silver medal, behind Guerrouj, at the 2001 World Championships in Athletics, and later that summer, at a meeting in Bruxelles Lagat set the Kenyan National Record and became the second fastest indvidual ever at 1500m when he ran 3:26.34. He was second in this race as well, behind Hicha el Guerrouj, in what was a failed attempt to break Guerrouj's own world record of 3:26.00. Lagat finished the year being ranked #2 in the world at 1500m.

Lagat spent most of 2002 and 2003 chasing Guerrouj. At the 2003 IAAF World Indooor Championships he earned the silver medal at 1500m, this time behind Driss Maazouzi of France. Lagat withdrew from the 2003 world outdoor championships after a false positive blood test showed traces of EPO in his system. His B sample test came back negative, clearing him of any charges. He was ranked 2nd and 4th in the world at 1500m in 2002 and 2003 respectively.

In the 3000m at the 2004 IAAF world indoor championships Lagat won his first international gold medal. Lagat was clearly overjoyed at his comeback since 2003. Throughout the spring he competed fiercely and beat his rival Guerrouj in Zurich with a world leading time at 1500m of 3:27.40. At the 2004 Summer Olympics Lagat seemed poised to once again defeat Guerrouj. The final was a very dramatic race, with Lagat and Guerrouj battling down the final 100m, swapping the lead multiple time. It was Guerrouj that prevailed, with Lagat close behind, earning the silver medal. He was however ranked #1 in the world at 1500m for the year.

From Kenyan to U.S. citizen

In March, 2005, Lagat announced that he had become a naturalized citizen of the United States since May 7, 2004, despite competing for Kenya in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Since Kenya does not allow dual citizenship his silver medal in the 1500 m was at stake, but in the end he was allowed to retain it. Because of this switch of nationality, Lagat served a ban from international championship events. For this reason he missed the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki. A similar switch of nationality, in this case Kenyan to Danish, caused Wilson Kipketer to miss the 1996 Olympic Games. Today, Lagat lives in Tucson AZ and Tübingen (Germany), with his wife Gladys Tom (a Canadian of Chinese descent)[3], whom he met while they both attended Washington State University[4][5], and their son Miika Kimutai (born in 2006) and their daughter Gianna (born 2008).[6]


American track and field records

The U.S. does allow dual citizenship and consequently races run by Lagat after May 7, 2004 could have been ratified as American records, since USATF rules only state that an athlete has to be a U.S. citizen competing in a sanctioned competition to be eligible to set a national record. However, at the 2005 USATF annual meeting, his 3:27.40 win in the 1500 meters, on August 6, 2004, in Zurich, was not ratified as an American record.

Nevertheless, Lagat owns three American records from races he had run in 2005 that were ratified by USATF. His first American records came indoors, with a 3:49.89 mile at Fayetteville, Arkansas, on February 11, 2005, during which his 1500 meters split time of 3:33.34 also established another new U.S. record, en route to a win in the event. The performance replaced records by Steve Scott, who set the previous American indoor mile record of 3:51.8 in 1981, and the previous American 1500 meter indoor record held by Jeff Atkinson, who ran 3:38.12 in 1989. Lagat's winning time of 3:29.40 at Rieti, Italy, on August 28, 2005, in the outdoor 1500 meters was ratified as his third new American record, improving upon the old record of 3:29.77, set by Sydney Maree in 1985.

On February 6, 2010, Lagat set a new American record in his debut of the indoor 5000 meters at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games with a time of 13:11.50, beating previous record holder Galen Rupp who had set the record at 13:18.12 in 2009[7].

Double gold

At the 2007 World Championships in Osaka Lagat surpassed all his previous achievements by becoming the first athlete to become world champion in both the 1,500 m and 5,000 m at the same IAAF World Outdoor Championships. Similar feats were accomplished by Hicham El Guerrouj at the 2004 Olympics and Paavo Nurmi at the 1924 Olympics.[8][9]

2008 Olympics and 2009 Worlds

Bernard Lagat at the 2009 World Championships

In 2008, Lagat won both 1500 m[10][11] and 5000 m[12] runs at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, qualifying himself to compete with Team USA at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.[13] Hopes were high that his success in both these events would continue at the Olympics.[14][15] However, Lagat failed to advance beyond the semi-finals in the 1500m run.[16][17][18] He was more successful in the 5000 m run, winning his semi-final heat to advance,[19][20] but ultimately did not medal, running to ninth place finish in the finals.[21]

Lagat had concealed the fact that he was running with an injured Achilles tendon, a problem which hampered his training and contributed to his poor showing at the Olympics. He stated that his placings at the 2008 Beijing Games were " the biggest disappointment in my athletics career". The following season, he began with high altitude training in Flagstaff, Arizona.[22] After tying Eamonn Coghlan's record of seven wins in the Wanamaker Mile at the 2009 Millrose Games in New York, Lagat broke Coghlan's record with an 8th win at Millrose in 2010.[23] As the reigning world champion in the 1500 and 5000 meters, he automatically received qualification in the events at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics and set his sights on retaining his titles. Despite being much older than some of his competitors, Lagat's desire to win had not faded and he said "I am more motivated than ever to go to the podium in Berlin".[22] Lagat ultimately won the bronze medal in the 1500m and the silver medal in the 5000m.

Major achievements

Lagat's greatest achievement have come primarily in 1500 meter races, which have included:

Competition Rank Time Place Date Notes
1999 Summer Universiade 1 x Spain. 1999 x
2000 Sydney Olympics 3 3:32.44 Sydney. 2000 Noah Ngeny(1), Hicham El Guerrouj(2)
2001 World Championships 2 3:31.10 Edmonton, Canada. 2001 Hicham El Guerrouj(1)
2002 IAAF World Cup 1 3:31.20 Madrid, Spain. 2002 x
2002 African Championships 1 3:38.11 Tunis, Tunisia. 2002 x
2003 World Indoor 2 3:42.62 Birmingham, UK. 2003 x
2003 World Championships DNS DNS Paris 2003 was suspended from competition
2004 World Indoor 1 7:56.34 (3000 m) Budapest, Hungary. 2004 First international gold medal
2004 Athens Olympics 2 3:34.30 Athens, Greece. 2004 Hicham El Guerrouj(1)
2005 World Championships x x Helsinki 2005 banned due to nationality switch
2006 US Championships 1 13:14.32 (5000 m) Indianapolis 2006 (1 of 2)
2006 US Championships 1 3:39.29 Indianapolis 2006 (2 of 2)
2007 US Championships 1 13:30.73 (5000 m) Indianapolis 2007 (1 of 2)
2007 US Championships 3 3:35.55 Indianapolis 2007 Alan Webb(1), Leonel Manzano(2)
2007 World Championships 1 3:34.77 Osaka 2007 First international outdoor gold medal
2007 World Championships 1 13:45.87 (5000 m) Osaka 2007 2nd international outdoor gold medal
2008 U.S. Olympic Trials 1 13:27.47 (5000 m) Eugene, Oregon 2008 Qualified for US Olympic team[24]
2008 U.S. Olympic Trials 1 3:40.37 Eugene, Oregon 2008 Qualified for US Olympic team[25]
2009 World Championships 3 3:36.20 Berlin, Germany. 2009 x
2009 World Championships 2 13:17.33 (5000 m) Berlin, Germany. 2009 x
2010 Reebok Boston Indoor Games 1 13:11.50 (5000 m) Boston, Massachusetts. 2010 Broke American indoor 5000m record
2010 World Indoor Championships 1 7:37.97 (3000 m) Doha, Qatar. 2010 x

Personal bests

Distance Mark Date Location
800 m 1:46.00 August 10, 2003 Berlin
1,000 m 2:16.27 August 7, 2007 Stockholm
1,500 m 3:26.34 August 24, 2001 Brussels
Mile 3:47.28 June 29, 2001 Rome
2,000 m 4:55.49 July 30, 1999 Stockholm
3,000 m 7:32.43i February 19, 2007 Birmingham
5,000 m 12:59.22 July 28, 2006 London

5k Indoors 13:11-American Record 3:49 Mile Indoors- American Record


  1. ^ Powell, David (2009-08-02). With family as inspiration, Lagat ready to pursue elusive Olympic gold. IAAF. Retrieved on 2009-08-05.
  2. ^ Bernard Lagat (Profile). USATF. 2008-08-18
  3. ^ "A Runner Dreams of Gold Under a New Flag". The New York Times, 2008-03-25.
  4. ^ ESPN The Magazine: "For love of country"., 2007-08-02.
  5. ^ "Sports: Bernard Lagat comes home". Washington State Magazine, 2008-02-01.
  6. ^ "Kenyan-Born Runner Boosts U.S. Olympic Hopes". NPR, 2008-06-23.
  7. ^ "Lagat sets American indoor record for 5,000 meters". The Washington Post, 2010-02-06.
  8. ^ El Guerrouj wins historic gold. BBC Sport. 2004-08-28
  9. ^ With historic double, Lagat joins illustrious company. 2007-09-02
  10. ^ U.S. 2008 Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field - Men's 1500m Results. USATF. 2008-07-06
  11. ^ Lagat wins 1,500m at U.S. Olympic trials. CBC Sports. 2008-07-07
  12. ^ U.S. 2008 Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field - Men's 5000m Results. USATF. 2008-06-30
  13. ^ Stuczynski breaks AR; hurdlers impress as Olympic Trials conclude: Lagat completes double. USATF. 2008-07-06
  14. ^ Lagat cautiously optimistic as double ambitions begin. IAAF. 2008-08-14
  15. ^ Lagat eyes double. The Oregonian. 2008-08-13
  16. ^ After a disappointment in 1,500, Lagat moves on in Olympic 5,000 meters. The Los Angeles Times. 2008-08-20
  17. ^ Lagat fails to make Olympic 1,500 final. The Arizona Republic. 2008-08-17
  18. ^ Lagat, Americans out after 1500m semis. NBC Olympics. 2008-08-17
  19. ^ Lagat wins 5K heat, advances to Saturday final. The Associated Press. 2008-08-20
  20. ^ Lagat rebounds in 5,000 meters. The Arizona Republic. 2008-08-20
  21. ^ Bekele wins 5,000, completes distance double. The Associated Press. 2008-08-23
  22. ^ a b Gains, Paul (2009-08-12). Lagat aims at defending precious World Champs double. IAAF. Retrieved on 2009-08-13.
  23. ^ Robinson, Joshua (209-01-31). Lagat Wins Mile at Millrose, Tying Coghlan’s Record. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-08-13.
  24. ^ USATF - Events - 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field - Men 5000 m
  25. ^ USATF - Events - 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field - Men 1500 m

External links

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