Eliud Kipchoge, Faith Kipyegon and the Three Other Most Successful Kenyans in Olympic History

Eliud Kipchoge, Faith Kipyegon and the Three Other Most Successful Kenyans in Olympic History

Martin Moses
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
  • The 2024 Paris Olympics is expected to be the main sports highlight of next year
  • Kenya has over time cultivated successful athletes in the history of the event
  • We take a look at the most decorated Kenyan athletes ahead of the 2024 games

The 2024 sports calendar will be one of the busiest in recent times since the disruption brought about by COVID-19.

The Africa Cup of Nations to be staged in Ivory Coast will whet our appetites before the Euro Championships and Copa America take forth later in the year.

But the pinnacle and highlight of the year is most certainly to be when more than 10,000 athletes troop to Paris, France, for the 30th edition of the Summer Olympics.

Eliud Kipchoge, Faith Kipyegon, David Rudisha, Olympics
Team Kenya at the opening ceremony of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile.
Source: Getty Images

Kenya has traditionally been a successful country in the Olympics by virtue of its prowess in producing elite middle and long-distance runners. The country first participated in the game in 1956 and has sent participants in every edition except for 1976 and 1980.

Ahead of the 2024 games, Sports Brief takes a look at the top 5 most successful Kenyans in the history of the games. Of the 113 medals Kenya has accumulated, 106 have been from athletics.

5. Faith Kipyegon - 2 Gold, 0 Silver, 0 Bronze

Not many can argue with the fact that Faith Kipyegon is the best female athlete Kenya has ever produced. Her 2023 season is just a testament and a way of her rubberstamping the athlete she has been over the years.

She first raced at the 2012 London Olympics, where she failed to make it to the semi-finals in her favourite 1500-meter discipline.

The 29-year-old, however, returned strongly in Brazil 2016, where she outsprinted Tirunesh Dibaba in the last 200m. She then repeated the same trick in 2020 in Tokyo, this time beating Sifan Hassan to become the first woman to win back-to-back 1,500m Olympics titles.

Can she extend it to three in Paris?

4. Ezekiel Kemboi - 2 Gold, 0 silver, 0 Bronze

Many Kenyans will agree that the 3,000m steeplechase, which used to be their go-to hunting ground in global championships, hasn't been the same since the great Ezekiel Kemboi retired.

A four-time World Champion, Kemboi added two Olympic gold medals to his CV - but not in consecutive years. His first came at the 2004 Athens games, where he led a 1-2-3 Kenyan sweep. He posted his worst-ever finish in a global competition at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where he finished seventh.

Kemboi bounced back in London to win gold before claiming bronze in Rio. He was, however, stripped of the bronze after the French team appealed that he had stepped out of the track.

3. David Rudisha - 2 Gold, 0 Silver, 0 Bronze

The best 800m runner the world has ever produced. David Rudisha won his first Olympic gold title in style when he shattered his world record at the 2012 London Olympics.

His time of 1:40.91 remains the fastest ever and no athlete has been able to run a sub 1:41 in the 800m. He successfully defended the title in Rio, the last 'proper' race he ran before unfortunate injuries forced him out of the game.

2. Eliud Kipchoge - 2 Gold 1 Silver 1 Bronze

The world record might no longer be his, but he remains the greatest marathoner ever. His first medal actually came in the 5,000m at the 2004 Athens Games when he won bronze. He upgraded it to silver in Beijing 2008.

He switched to marathon running in 2012, a discipline that has brought him much success. He won his first gold medal at the London Games before defending it in Rio four years later.

1. Kipchoge Keino - 2 Gold, 2 Silver, 0 Bronze

Keino is the most decorated athlete in Kenyan Olympic history. He specialised in a variety of middle-distance races at the 1968 and 1972 Olympics.

In the former, he won gold in the 1,500m and silver in the 5,000m. He then bagged gold in the 3,000m steeplechase and 1,500m silver at the 1972 games.

Comparing finalists for Women's Athlete of the Year

Sports Brief earlier compared the five finalists for the Women's World Athlete of the Year award ahead of the announcement of the winner next month.

Kenya's Faith Kipyegon is the front-runner after breaking three world records in 2023 and winning the women's 1500m title and the Diamond League final.

Other finalists for the award include marathon world record holder Tigist Assefa, Dutch sprinter Femke Bol, Jamaica's Shericka Jackson and Yulimar Rojas.

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)
Eliud KipchogeFaith Kipyegon