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Ezekiel Kemboi: Olympic Steeplechase Champion

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Winning the 2008 Kenyan Olympic Trials steeplechase event, ahead of Brimin Kipruto and Richard Matelong, was an impressive feat. But it was Kipruto who took the gold in Beijing, while 2004 gold medalist Kemboi had to settle for seventh place.

Late bloomer:

Kemboi didn’t compete in track and field while attending school. He played soccer, served as a DJ at school parties and was involved in drama and debate.

He began running on his own after completing his schooling in 1999. Inspired by fellow Marakwet District competitors and Olympic medalists Moses Kiptanui and William Mutwol, Kemboi chose the steeplechase as his event. By 2001 he was the African Junior steeplechase champion, despite falling in the final.


Paul Kipsiele Koech was favored to win the steeplechase gold in 2004, but as usual, the favorite’s top competition came from his fellow Kenyans. Kemboi passed his teammate on the final lap to win. Koech settled for bronze while Kipruto earned the silver.

Career highlights:

In addition to winning the 2004 Olympic gold, Kemboi finished first at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. He’s also placed second at three consecutive World Championships (2003-07).

The stats:
  • Height: 5-9
  • Weight: 137
  • Age: 26
  • Birth date: May 25, 1982
  • Hometown: Matira, Kenya
  • World Championships: One

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