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Bernard Kipchirchir Lagat (born December 12, 1974, Kapsabetmarker, Kenyamarker) is a middle and long distance champion athlete who now represents the United Statesmarker. In July, 2008, Lagat won the US Olympic Trials in the 1500 m and 5000 m, making the US Olympic team in both events. In August 2009, he won the 5000m silver and 1500m bronze medal at the 2009 World Championships in Berlinmarker.

Early life

Lagat, now a Kenyan American, was born in Kaptel village, near Kapsabet town in Nandi District. His date of birth coincides with Jamhuri Day, the independence day of Kenya. He is a Nandi, sub-tribe of the Kalenjin people. He graduated from the Kaptel High School in 1994, where he had started his athletics career.

He joined Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Nairobimarker 1996. Later in the same year he moved to Washington State Universitymarker. In 2000, Lagat graduated from Washington State University—as athletic greats Henry Rono and Michael Kosgei from Kenya had done before him—with a degree in management information systems.

A large number of Lagat's siblings have also competed in athletics; his older sister Mary Chepkemboi won the 3000 m at the 1994 African Championships in Athletics.

2000 Olympics

Lagat won the bronze medal in the 1500 m run while competing for Kenya at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australiamarker.


Lagat was among several Kenyan athletes, along with Richard Limo and Reuben Kosgei, who were heavily criticized for not representing their country in the 2002 Commonwealth Games, which were held in Manchestermarker, Englandmarker. Instead, the runners chose to chase the prize money offered in the IAAF Golden League.

Lagat pulled out of the 2003 World Championships in Athletics in Parismarker, Francemarker, after being told he had tested positive for erythropoietin, (EPO), on August 8 while competing in Germanymarker. He was suspended from competition, but this was later lifted when a B sample tested negative. On hearing this good news he issued a statement saying "I hope this outcome will also remove any suggestion that I have ever taken drugs."

2004 Olympics

Lagat won the silver medal in the 1500 m run while again competing for Kenya at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greecemarker.

From Kenyan to U.S. citizen

In March, 2005, Lagat announced that he had become a naturalized citizen of the United Statesmarker since May 7, 2004, despite competing for Kenya in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Since Kenya does not allow dual citizenship his silver medal in the 1500 m is at stake, depending on how Kenya interprets its own laws ( , no additional news has arisen on this issue). Due to this switch of nationality, Lagat served a ban from international championship events. For this reason he missed the IAAF World Championships in Helsinkimarker. A similar switch of nationality, in this case Kenyan to Danishmarker, caused Wilson Kipketer to miss the 1996 Olympic Games. Today, Lagat lives in Tucson AZ and Tübingen (Germany), with his wife Gladys Tom (a Canadian of Chinese descent), who he met while they both attended Washington State Universitymarker, and their 2-year-old son Miika Kimutai.

American track and field records

The U.S. does allow dual citizenship and consequently races run by Lagat after May 7, 2004 could have been ratified as American records, since USATF rules only state that an athlete has to be a U.S. citizen competing in a sanctioned competition to be eligible to set a national record. However, at the 2005 USATF annual meeting, his 3:27.40 win in the 1500 meters, on August 6, 2004, in Zurich, was not ratified as an American record.

Nevertheless, Lagat owns three American records from races he had run in 2005 that were ratified by USATF. His first American records came indoors, with a 3:49.89 mile at Fayetteville, Arkansasmarker, on February 11, 2005, during which his 1500 meters split time of 3:33.34 also established another new U.S. record, en route to a win in the event. The performance replaced records by Steve Scott, who set the previous American indoor mile record of 3:51.8 in 1981, and the previous American 1500 meter indoor record held by Jeff Atkinson, who ran 3:38.12 in 1989. Lagat's winning time of 3:29.40 at Rietimarker, Italymarker, on August 28, 2005, in the outdoor 1500 meters was ratified as his third new American record, improving upon the old record of 3:29.77, set by Sydney Maree in 1985.

Double gold

At the 2007 World Championships in Osaka Lagat surpassed all his previous achievements by becoming the first athlete to become world champion in both the 1,500 m and 5,000 m at the same IAAF World Outdoor Championships. Similar feats were accomplished by Hicham El Guerrouj at the 2004 Olympics and Paavo Nurmi at the 1924 Olympics.

2008 Olympics and 2009 Worlds

Bernard Lagat at the 2009 World Championships
In 2008, Lagat won both 1500 m and 5000 m runs at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregonmarker, qualifying himself to compete with Team USA at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Hopes were high that his success in both these events would continue at the Olympics. However, Lagat failed to advance beyond the semi-finals in the 1500m run. He was more successful in the 5000 m run, winning his semi-final heat to advance, but ultimately did not medal, running to ninth place finish in the finals.

Lagat had concealed the fact that he was running with an injured Achilles tendon, a problem which hampered his training and contributed to his poor showing at the Olympics. He stated that his placings at the 2008 Beijing Games were " the biggest disappointment in my athletics career". The following season, he began with high altitude training in Flagstaff, Arizonamarker. At the Millrose Games he won the Wanamaker Mile for a seventh time, tying Eamonn Coghlan's record. As the reigning world champion in the 1500 and 5000 meters, he automatically received qualification in the events at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics and set his sights on retaining his titles. Despite being much older than some of his competitors, Lagat's desire to win had not faded and he said "I am more motivated than ever to go to the podium in Berlin". Lagat ultimately won the bronze medal in the 1500m and the silver medal in the 5000m.

Major achievements

Lagat's greatest achievement have come primarily in 1500 meter races, which have included:
Competition Rank Time Place Date Notes
1999 Summer Universiade 1 x Spainmarker. 1999 x
2000 Sydney Olympics 3 3:32.44 Sydneymarker. 2000 Noah Ngeny(1), Hicham El Guerrouj(2)
2001 World Championships 2 3:31.10 Edmontonmarker, Canadamarker. 2001 Hicham El Guerrouj(1)
2002 IAAF World Cup 1 3:31.20 Madridmarker, Spainmarker. 2002 x
2002 African Championships 1 3:38.11 Tunismarker, Tunisiamarker. 2002 x
2003 World Indoor 2 3:42.62 Birminghammarker, UKmarker. 2003 x
2003 World Championships DNS DNS Parismarker 2003 was suspended from competition
2004 World Indoor 1 7:56.34 (3000 m) Budapestmarker, Hungarymarker. 2004 First international gold medal
2004 Athens Olympics 2 3:34.30 Athensmarker, Greecemarker. 2004 Hicham El Guerrouj(1)
2005 World Championships x x Helsinkimarker 2005 banned due to nationality switch
2006 US Championships 1 13:14.32 (5000 m) Indianapolismarker 2006 (1 of 2)
2006 US Championships 1 3:39.29 Indianapolismarker 2006 (2 of 2)
2007 US Championships 1 13:30.73 (5000 m) Indianapolismarker 2007 (1 of 2)
2007 US Championships 3 3:35.55 Indianapolismarker 2007 Alan Webb(1), Leonel Manzano(2)
2007 World Championships 1 3:34.77 Osaka 2007 First international outdoor gold medal
2007 World Championships 1 13:45.87 (5000 m) Osaka 2007 2nd international outdoor gold medal
2008 U.S. Olympic Trials 1 13:27.47 (5000 m) Eugene, Oregonmarker 2008 Qualified for US Olympic team
2008 U.S. Olympic Trials 1 3:40.37 Eugene, Oregonmarker 2008 Qualified for US Olympic team
2009 World Championships 3 3:36.20 Berlin, Germany.marker 2009 x
2009 World Championships 2 13:17.33 (5000 m) Berlin, Germany.marker 2009 x

Personal bests

Distance Mark Date Location
800 m 1:46.00 August 10, 2003 Berlinmarker
1,000 m 2:16.27 August 7, 2007 Stockholmmarker
1,500 m 3:26.34 August 24, 2001 Brusselsmarker
Mile 3:47.28 June 29, 2001 Romemarker
2,000 m 4:55.49 July 30, 1999 Stockholmmarker
3,000 m 7:32.43i February 19, 2007 Birminghammarker
5,000 m 12:59.22 July 28, 2006 Londonmarker


  1. Powell, David (2009-08-02). With family as inspiration, Lagat ready to pursue elusive Olympic gold. IAAF. Retrieved on 2009-08-05.
  2. Bernard Lagat (Profile). USATF. 2008-08-18
  3. Lagat fails drugs test. BBC Sport. 2003-09-03
  4. Lagat given all-clear. BBC Sport. 2003-10-01
  5. "A Runner Dreams of Gold Under a New Flag". The New York Times, 2008-03-25.
  6. ESPN The Magazine: "For love of country"., 2007-08-02.
  7. "Sports: Bernard Lagat comes home". Washington State Magazine, 2008-02-01.
  8. "Kenyan-Born Runner Boosts U.S. Olympic Hopes". NPR, 2008-06-23.
  9. El Guerrouj wins historic gold. BBC Sport. 2004-08-28
  10. With historic double, Lagat joins illustrious company. 2007-09-02
  11. U.S. 2008 Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field - Men's 1500m Results. USATF. 2008-07-06
  12. Lagat wins 1,500m at U.S. Olympic trials. CBC Sports. 2008-07-07
  13. U.S. 2008 Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field - Men's 5000m Results. USATF. 2008-06-30
  14. Stuczynski breaks AR; hurdlers impress as Olympic Trials conclude: Lagat completes double. USATF. 2008-07-06
  15. Lagat cautiously optimistic as double ambitions begin. IAAF. 2008-08-14
  16. Lagat eyes double. The Oregonian. 2008-08-13
  17. After a disappointment in 1,500, Lagat moves on in Olympic 5,000 meters. The Los Angeles Times. 2008-08-20
  18. Lagat fails to make Olympic 1,500 final. The Arizona Republic. 2008-08-17
  19. Lagat, Americans out after 1500m semis. NBC Olympics. 2008-08-17
  20. Lagat wins 5K heat, advances to Saturday final. The Associated Press. 2008-08-20
  21. Lagat rebounds in 5,000 meters. The Arizona Republic. 2008-08-20
  22. Bekele wins 5,000, completes distance double. The Associated Press. 2008-08-23
  23. Robinson, Joshua (209-01-31). Lagat Wins Mile at Millrose, Tying Coghlan’s Record. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-08-13.
  24. Gains, Paul (2009-08-12). Lagat aims at defending precious World Champs double. IAAF. Retrieved on 2009-08-13.
  25. USATF - Events - 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field - Men 5000 m
  26. USATF - Events - 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field - Men 1500 m

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