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Bernard Lagat: Doing the Distance Double at 1500 and 5000 Meters


Bernard Lagat: Doing the Distance Double at 1500 and 5000 Meters

Bernard Lagat

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
The long-time distance great won both the 1,500 and 5,000 at the 2007 World Championships and the 2008 Olympic Trials. He wasn't close to winning in Beijing, however, finishing ninth in the 5,000 and failing to qualify for the final in the 1,500. He rallied in 2009 and competed strongly in both events at the World Championships, earning a silver medal in the 5,000 and a bronze in the 1,500. He added a gold medal in the 3,000 at the 2010 World Indoor Championships, then defended his title by winning in Istanbul in 2012. Lagat has remained a strong outdoor 5,000-meter competitor into his late 30s, earning a silver medal in the 2011 World Championships and placing fourth at the 2012 Olympics.

When I was your age...:

While growing up in Kapsabet, Kenya Lagat ran a mile-and-a-half to and from school each day. But he didn’t become serious about running competitively until he attended Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta University College of Agriculture and Technology. His career blossomed after moving to the U.S. when he received a track scholarship from Washington State.

Chasing El Guerrouj:

Lagat was a step – 12-hundredths of a second, to be precise – behind Hicham El Guerrouj at both the 2000 and 2004 Olympics. In 2000 Lagat won the bronze and El Guerrouj the silver in the 1,500. In 2004 Lagat edged in front of his rival down the final stretch, but the Moroccan pulled ahead to earn the gold while Lagat settled for silver.

American citizen:

Lagat became a U.S. citizen on May 7, 2004 but kept the information quiet so he could run in the 2004 Olympics. Under IAAF rules, an athlete changing national affiliation must wait three years before competing for a new country. Lagat became eligible to run for the U.S. at the 2007 World Outdoor Championships, where he won both the 1,500 and 5,000-meter events. He was the first American man to win the 1,500 at the World Outdoor Championships, the first American man to win any medal in the 5,000 and the first runner from any nation to win both distance events at the same World Outdoor Championship competition.

Career highlights:

Prior to his 2007 World Championship victories, Lagat was the 2004 World Indoor champion at 3,000 meters. He earned 1,500-meter silver medals at the 2001 World Outdoors and 2003 World Indoors. Entering the 2008 Olympic Trials he’d won three U.S. Outdoor Championships (one at 1,500, two at 5,000).

At Washington State in 1999, Lagat won the mile and 3,000 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships and the 5,000 at the NCAA Outdoors. He holds the U.S. indoor records at 1,500 (3:33.34), one mile (3:49.89) and 3,000 (7:32.43) plus the outdoor 1,500 mark (3:29.30). He finished 2007 ranked No. 2 in the world at 1,500 meters, No. 3 at 3,000 and No. 4 at 5,000.

The stats:

  • Height: 5-8
  • Weight: 134
  • Birth date: December 12, 1974
  • Hometown: Kapsabet, Kenya
  • Personal best: 3:26.34 (1500 meters); 3:47.28 (mile); 7:29.00 (3000 meters); 12:53.60 (5000 meters)
  • World Championships: Five (two outdoor, three indoor)


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