The first match of the 2019 semifinal phase of the UEFA Champions League tournament was momentous for many reasons, and one of them was the presence of special guest Eliud Kipchoge at the brand-new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. Just a couple of days before Tottenham hosted the Amsterdam Ajax at their new clubhouse, Kipchoge made history as he blazed through the city to set a new London Marathon record with the astonishing time of 2:02:37, the fastest in history. Amazingly, the Kenyan runner felt a slight pang of disappointment because he was not able to improve upon his world record 2:01:39 at the 2018 Berlin Marathon just a few months ago.
By the time Kipchoge revealed his love for the Spurs, Tottenham fans already knew his name because of the world record he set in London, and they also knew that he was seeking to improve upon the record he set in Berlin last year. To have Kipchoge rooting for the Spurs is truly special because there is no question that he is the most accomplished marathon athlete of all time.
Kipchoge’s interest in long-distance running started in the mid-1990s, but it was more a matter of lifestyle than athletics. Like many of his school peers in Nandi County, located in the North Rift region of Kenya, Kipchoge ran a couple of miles to and from school on a daily basis. It so happened that Kipchoge caught the attention of Patrick Sang, a steeplechase Olympic medalist also from Nandi, and the two began a training partnership.
Instead of running half-marathons as a way of improving his pace and stamina, Kipchoge entered the more competitive world of cross-country racing, which is largely dominated by Kenyan and Ethiopian runners. He also excelled in the two-mile Prefontaine Classic as well as 3,000 and 5,000 meter events. His trainer noticed a marked improvement and great stamina as Kipchoge got closer to the finish line, thus shifting his focus to marathons.
At the age of 34, Kipchoge has accumulated a considerable medal haul: 11 gold, four silver and two bronze. His first gold medal was at the 2003 World Cross Country Championships; his first Olympic gold medal was earned at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro marathon, and his all-time personal best happens to be the current marathon world record earned in Berlin last year, a time that he has vowed to improve upon. In addition to all the race victories he has already accumulated, which include four gold medals in London, three in Berlin, and one in Chicago, he wants to win the Boston, New York and Tokyo marathons, which would make him the only athlete to have done so. Kipchoge is not alone in this pursuit; fellow Kenyan runner Wilson Kipsang could beat him to this accomplishment if he wins Boston and Chicago, but trainers believe that Kipchoge’s pace technique, strong finish and confidence make him a more likely candidate.