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Patrick Sang: The Man Behind Kipchoge and Kipyegon’s Record Breaking Careers
- Patrick Sang was a decorated athlete before he ventured into coaching
- He has coached Eliud Kipchoge for more than two decades now
- He also coaches Faith Kipyegon and Geoffrey Kamworor
On a misty morning on October 12, 2019, in Vienna, Austria, Eliud Kipchoge became the first human being to run a sub-two-hour marathon. As he approached the finish line, his face lit up with a smile, knowing he had broken a barrier deemed untouchable.
After crossing the finish line, hundreds of spectators cheered him on; he pumped his chest twice before warmly embracing his wife, Grace Sugut Kipchoge. Moments later, he briefly shared a hug with Patrick Sang, his coach for many years.
Before Vienna, world records, and Olympic medals, Sang saw Kipchoge go through ups and downs in his career, just like any athlete. The 59-year-old has done and seen it all in the world of athletics.
He not only coaches Kipchoge, but also Faith Kipyegon, the Kenyan athlete who broke three world records in 51 days. Those incredible achievements have granted him an almost mythical status in the running world. But how did Sang come to coach some of the best athletes in the world?
Sang's athletics career
The Kenyan was a successful runner himself. He won three silver medals in the 3000m Steeplechase, one in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, and two at the World Athletics Championships (1991, 1993). He retired from running in 1995, but his coaching career began in 1993.
Sang and Kipchoge's partnership
Sang recalls his first interactions with a 16-year-old Kipchoge in the early 2000s. According to Ineos1:59, Sang gave Kipchoge a two-week training program.
"He came back two weeks later and said ‘what’s next?’ and that’s where it all began," he said. "What would have happened if I had said no? What if I had ignored that young man who came to me asking for support? Would history have been different? Would we have seen this phenomenal marathon runner?"
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In 2001, Sang met Kipchoge and the rest, as they say, his history. He became his coach in 2002, and a year later, in 2003, the 38-year-old won his one and only World Athletics medal in the 5000m. He had moderate success from 2003 onwards in the 5000m, failing to win a major title.
Sang oversees Kipchoge's success
At 28, Kipochoge switched from the track to the roads. In 2013, he made his marathon debut in Hamburg, Germany. He emerged victorious in 2:05:30, a course record and, at the time, the sixth-fastest marathon debut in history. He won Olympic gold in the marathon in 2016 and 2021.
Since then, Kipchoge has won an incredible 15 marathons and lost only three. He set the world record in last year's Berlin Marathon (2:01:09). Sang had a hand in all of these astonishing accomplishments.
In 2019, he helped Kipchoge run the marathon in 1 hour 59 minutes 40 seconds. No human being has ever run a marathon in under two hours except Kipchoge. The record is unofficial, though.
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Sang helps Kipyegon's comeback
After winning her first of two Olympic gold medals in 2016 and the 2017 Diamond League title, Kipyegon took a break from running to have a baby. Kipyegon and her husband, Timothy Kitum, welcomed their daughter Alyn in June 2018. During her comeback, she chose Sang to be her next coach.
She lost the 1500m title in the 2019 World Athletics Championships, but under the tutelage of Sang, she bounced back to win in 2022. She also defended her 1500m Olympic title in Tokyo in 2021.
Kipyegon credits Sang
In 2023, Kipyegon cemented her status as one of the greatest athletes of all time by breaking three world records in 51 days.
On 2nd June, she broke the 1500m world record, clocking 3:49.11 at the Golden Gala meeting in Florence. A week later, she clocked 14 minutes, 5.20 seconds, to break the 5000m record.
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On 21st July, she smashed the mile record at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco. She clocked 4:07:64, shaving off four seconds on the previous record set by her long-term rival, Sifan Hassan on the same track four years ago (4:12:33).
"I have a lot to thank him for. He has done so much to steer me to the heights that I didn't expect to reach in my career," Kipyegon said. "We've come a long way together and I must applaud him for believing in me and trusting in my abilities to succeed. I owe my success to him," she said, via the Star.
Although he has helped athletes like Kipchoge and Kipyegon break world records, he has coached many other great athletes at the Kaptagat Training Camp in Eldoret. He coached Geoffrey Kamworor to victory twice at the New York Marathon.
It's been a historic run for Sang so far, and it won't be long until he leads another runner to record-breaking performances. He revealed his secret of success to World Athletics in 2021.
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"Without trust, you cannot go far with the athlete...They just trust the process and do the job."
Kipchoge targeting 2023 Berlin Marathon
Kipchoge is planning to defend his 2022 Berlin Marathon title on September 24, as Sports Brief earlier reported.
The Kenyan runner shaved 30 seconds off his own world record in last year's event; the double Olympic champion will return to the race looking to become the first person to win it five times.
He is looking to bounce back after finishing 6th in the 2023 Boston Marathon in April.