6 Kenyan Women Who Have Won Gold at the Olympics Ahead of the Paris Games

6 Kenyan Women Who Have Won Gold at the Olympics Ahead of the Paris Games

Edwin Kiplagat
April 3, 2024 at 9:46 AM
  • A Kenyan woman won an Olympic gold medal for the first time in 2008
  • Pamela Jelimo won the first gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China
  • Five other Kenyan women have won a gold medal at the Olympic Games

Kenya has been the creme de la creme of middle and long-distance athletics.

Since the 1968 Olympics, the East African nation has consistently delivered on the biggest stages of them all.

However, it took some time for Kenyan women to start performing on the track.

Pamela Jelimo, Faith Kipyegon, Peres Jepchirchir, Nancy Langat, Jemima Sumgong, Vivian Cheruiyot, Olympics, kenya
Pamela Jelimo and Faith Kipyegon have won three Olympic gold medals between them. Photos by Phil Walter and Ian Walton.
Source: Getty Images

Kenya first competed at the Olympics in 1964 as an independent nation. Wilson Kiprugut Chumo won bronze in the men's 800m, Kenya's only medal at the Games.

The African nation announced their arrival at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, with Naftali Temu winning their first-ever gold medal.

That year, Kenya sent three women to the showpiece. Tekla Chemabwai (400m), Elizabeth Chesire (800m), and Lydia Stephens (100m, 200m) were the only women in the team. Unfortunately, they went home empty-handed.

They had to wait until the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, USA, for their first medal. Pauline Konga won silver in the 5,000m, becoming the first Kenyan woman to win a medal at the Olympics.

Still, a gold medal eluded them until 2008. Here is every woman who won gold for Kenya at the Olympics.

Kenyan women who won Olympic gold

Pamela Jelimo (800m) - 2008 Beijing Olympics

18-year-old Pamela Jelimo won the women's 800m in Beijing, ending Kenya's wait for a gold medal from a female athlete. She clocked a time of 1 minute and 54.87 seconds. It was an incredible win since she set her personal best. Her compatriot, Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei, won silver.

In 2008, Jelimo went on a historic run in the ÅF Golden League, where she pocketed the $1 million jackpot. She couldn't defend her title in 2012 in London as she finished third.

Nancy Langat (1,500m) - 2008 Beijing Olympics

Days after Jelimo had won Kenya's first gold by a woman for Kenya, Langat added another one in the women's 1.500m. She clocked 4:00.23 to win ahead of Ukraine's Iryna Lishchynska and Nataliya Tobias.

Langat struggled to build on that famous win.

Jemima Sumgong (Marathon) - 2016 Rio Olympics

Sumgong became the first Kenyan woman to win gold in the marathon at the Olympics. She clocked 2:24:04 to finish ahead of Bahrain’s Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa and Ethiopian Mare Dibaba.

She won the 2016 London Marathon but was banned for eight years in 2019 for anti-doping rule violations.

Vivian Cheruiyot (5,000m) - 2016 Rio Olympics

Cheruiyot outwitted Ethiopians, including favourite Almaz Ayana, to win Kenya's first Olympic gold medal in the women's 5,000m. Cheruiyot clocked 14.26:17 to win the race. Her compatriot, Hellen Obiri, took silver, while Ayana finished third.

Ayana avenged her defeat in the 10,000m. Cheruiyot finished second in the race. She remains one of Kenya's most decorated female athletes. Her resume also includes four world titles.

Faith Kipyegon (1,500) - 2016 Rio Olympics, 2021 Tokyo Olympics

Kipyegon's dominance began at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She won gold in 4:08.92, then defended her title in 2021 in Tokyo, reducing her winning time to 3:53.11.

Aside from the two Olympic gold medals, she won the global 1,500 title in 2017, 2022, and 2023. In 2023, she set the world record in the distance. She is aiming to become the first Kenyan woman to win three straight Olympic titles later this year in Paris.

Peres Jepchirchir (Marathon) - 2021 Tokyo Olympics

Jepchirchir defended Kenya's 2016 women's marathon title in sweltering conditions in Japan in 2021. She clocked two hours, 27 minutes and 20 seconds to finish ahead of former world record holder, Brigid Kosgei.

Jepchirchir has also won the New York City and Boston Marathons. She will likely defend her title at the Paris 2024 Olympics, per World Athletics.

Races Kenya hopes to win in Paris

Sports Brief previously listed events Kenya wants to win at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The Women's 800m gold medal has eluded the country since Pamela Jelimo's heroics.

The men are looking to win their first gold in the 10,000m for the first time since 1968.

Edwin Kiplagat photo
Edwin Kiplagat
Edwin Kiplagat has five years of experience in journalism working as a Sports Editor at Africa Insight Communications and ESPN. Edwin Kiplagat is a Bachelor's Degree holder in journalism from the Multimedia University of Kenya.