Olympic Stories

Abel Kirui

Abel Kirui

Abel Kirui is a long distance runner from Kenya, and was born on 4th June 1982.

Kirui should feel very good about his effort at the 2007 Berlin Marathon as he was up against Haile Gebrselassie, and he probably didn’t think he’d be able to keep up but he came very close.

Gebrselassie was pretty unstoppable at that race as he was going after a new world record. The running conditions were perfect and Kirui took advantage of this, and he made a huge improvement on his previous personal best by almost four full minutes! He completed the race in 2nd place, and his time was 2:06:51. For that year, Kirui was the sixth fastest male runner in the world.

The year before at the Berlin Marathon, he only managed to finished within the top ten and had a time of 2:17:47. Shortly afterwards, he ran in Singapore under very hot and difficult weather conditions, he fought and  improved his time by almost 2 minutes. Kirui then went on to run the Vienna Marathon where he improved further and came 3rd with a fantastic time of 2:10:41.

Before the Vienna achievement, he had a bit of practice and a lot to feel good about after a wonderful victory in the International Paderborner Osterlauf Half Marathon which he finished in 1:01:32. Kirui later improved his personal best to 1:00:11 when he finished in 6th place in the Fortis Rotterdam Half Marathon in 2007. He started out pretty badly in 2008.

Kirui's first marathon run of that year was as a pacemaker for Gebrselassie in the Dubai race where he was unable to complete the race and could not keep his momentum up. He again failed to finish the race when he ran the Tokyo International Marathon a month later, but this was all brushed under the carpet when he returned to run again in Vienna two months later and set a new record for the course.

He once again ran with Gebrselassie in the Berlin Marathon later on in 2008 and although he managed to run 30 kilometres in 1:28:25, he didn’t managed to finish the race, in spite of the fact that he was a few seconds in front of the world record title holder for most of the time he was running. Next up was the Rotterdam Marathon where he managed to clear the finish line in an impressive feat. In this race Kirui completed the race in 2:05:04, which made him the 6th fastest man ever.

In the 2009 World Championships at Berlin, Kirui was the fastest runner and won the race. He and a few others passed the half-way mark at 1:03:03. As he reached the 35 kilometre mark, he was only up against Mutai. With only 5 kilometres of the race left, Kirui pushed well in front of Mutai and passed the finish line at 2:06:54. This was a World Championships record by 97 seconds. In 2010 he ran his first London Marathon and kept level with the winner Kebede until the very end, when he tired and ended up in 5th.

After his victory in Daegu he was promoted to Inspector and hopes to progress further should he win at the 2012 Olympic Games or break the world record. "I was the only one from the force who was selected and to return to the family as a winner, it is a great thing." Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich beats Kenyans Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang to win the Olympic men's marathon in London.

Career Highlights

  • 2012 Summer Olympics – Silver
  • 2011 World Championships – Gold
  • 2009 World Championships – Gold

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