Nairobi: International Athletics Associations Federation (IAAF) is set to confer five-time world cross country champion Paul Tergat the veteran pin award for his outstanding contribution to athletics.
Tergat will be honoured with the prestigious award on August 1 during the opening ceremony of the 51st IAAF Congress, which will precede the World Championships in London. The founder of the Sports Personality of the Year Awards (SOYA) has been phenomenal to the athletics fraternity nationally and globally with his worthwhile contribution failing to go unnoticed, prompting the worlds governing body to reward his selfless dedication.
With his success on the roads and track earning him and the country an enviable reputation, the winner of 13 world cross countries, who is an elected member of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), will see his contribution off the roads and tracks get some acknowledgement.
The latter, who remains favourite for position of National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOCK) chairmanship after being endorsed unopposed, is regarded as one of the world’s greatest long distance runners in history. He will be remembered for winning a total of 13 world cross- countries, two consecutive World Half Marathon Championships, and two silver Olympic men’s 10,000m silver medals in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000. Tergat won five straight IAAF World Cross Country Championships titles, 1995 to 1999, which have remained unchallenged.
His rivalry with Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie earned him more respect for specifically breaking his 10,000m world record on August 22 1997 in Brussels with a time 26:27.85 minutes but the mark was broken again by Gebrselassie in 1998 (26:22.75.) The duo raced in the London Marathon in 2002, where Tergat prevailed over Gebreselassie though they were placed second and third respectively behind the then record holder Khalid Khannouchi. The three later raced again in the 2007 with Tergat beating them.
On the road, Tergat broke the half marathon world record on April 4, 1998 in Milan by running in 59:17 minutes to breaking a previous record of 59:47 minutes set by Moses Tanui in 1993. Tergat’s world record was broken in 2005 by the late Samuel Wanjiru.
In his native land, he inaugurated the Baringo Half Marathon in 2005, setting up the professional race on a course near his home town. He also contributed to the success of the Lake Turkana Half Marathon which was launched two years ago.
Through his Paul Tergat Foundation he has been able to raise awareness on the global menace of hunger as an Ambassador of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Agency. He is currently the Board Chair of the Kenya Academy of Sports.