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News Archive

Olympic Running Events (XI): Marathon with Paul Tergat


The fastest marathon runner of all times will be the big favourite in

Athens: Paul Tergat. The Kenyan achieved a dream time in last year’s


He won in a new world record of 2:04:55 and became the first marathoner

to break 2:05. But in an Olympic marathon race everything is possible.

Especially if you take into account the extreme conditions. It will be very hot

when the race will start at 6 pm. Additionally the profile of the course is


One of Tergat’s main rivals will be Sammy Korir

It will be impossible to run top times in this marathon, which will start in

Marathon as back in 1896. The route will be similar to the one used during the

first Olympics. One of Tergat’s main rivals will be Sammy Korir, who

finshed just one second behind Tergat in Berlin last year.

World Champion Jaouad Gharib (Marocco) is another runner to watch. In contrast

Gezahegne Abera (Ethiopia) had to withdraw from the race shortly. The Olympic

Champion of 2000 still suffers of problems with his Achilles tendon. Because of

injury problems Khalid Khannouchi (USA) was not able to qualify for


Two more top contenders are not running in Athens: Kenyan Felix Limo won this

year’s Rotterdam Marathon in 2:06:14 while another Kenyan, Evans Rutto,

triumphed in London with 2:06:18 despite a bad fall. He beat Sammy Korir. Still

the Kenyan federation did not nominate one of the two leading marathon runners

of this year. This could of course help Paul Tergat.


This was his first marathon win and now he would like to add his first

Olympic gold. Paul Tergat had been World Cross Country Champion five

times in a row in the 90ies. But later he became prominent as the big

rival of Haile Gebrselassie. Once he had broken the 10,000 m world record of

the Ethiopian, but Gebrselassie got the record back. And whenever there was a

big final the winner was Gebrselassie. And Tergat had to be content with

silver. In the 10,000 m final of the Olympics 2000 it was very close. “I

absolutely respect Paul Tergat – he had been really unlucky in Sydney,

because it was so close”, Haile Gebrselassie said.

Marathon debut in London in 2001

After these Olympics Paul Tergat changed his event. He then ran his marathon

debut in London in 2001, finishing second. A year later he beat Haile

Gebrselassie in London, but again was only second. Khalid Khannouchi (USA)

broke the world record with a time of 2:05:38. Tergat, who also holds the half

marathon world record of 59:17 minutes, reached the finish just ten seconds

behind Khannouchi. But finally he triumphed in Berlin 2003.

Paul Tergat had started running at a late stage. After having played

Basketball in former years he started running seriously only after school.

“It was not before I joined the air force at the age of 19 when I started

my real training.” So in contrast to many of the Kenyan world class

athletes running to school played no part in his development. “My way to

school did not matter because I lived just 400 metres away from it. So I did

not run 10 k to school and back like other pupils.” Still there was an

interest in running when Paul Tergat was young. “I admired our great

Kenyan runners, like John Ngugi, Moses Tanui or Paul Kipkoech. They were a

great inspiration for me“, Paul Tergat explained.

Paul Tergat’s Marathon Races:

2nd London 2001 2:08:15

2nd Chicago 2001 2:08:56

2nd London 2002 2:05:48

4th Chicago 2002 2:06:18

4th London 2003 2:07:59

1st Berlin 2003 2:04:55