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The Most Famous

ATHLETES from Kenya

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This page contains a list of the greatest Kenyan Athletes. The pantheon dataset contains 3,059 Athletes, 106 of which were born in Kenya. This makes Kenya the birth place of the 9th most number of Athletes behind Italy and China.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Kenyan Athletes of all time. This list of famous Kenyan Athletes is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Kenyan Athletes.

Photo of Eliud Kipchoge

1. Eliud Kipchoge (1984 - )

With an HPI of 52.23, Eliud Kipchoge is the most famous Kenyan Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 45 different languages on wikipedia.

Eliud Kipchoge (born 5 November 1984) is a Kenyan long-distance runner who competes in the marathon and formerly specialized in the 5000 metres. Regarded as one of the greatest marathon runners of all time, he is the 2016 and 2020 Olympic marathon champion, and was the world record holder in the marathon from 2018 to 2023, with a time of 2:01:09 set at the 2022 Berlin Marathon, until that record was broken by Kelvin Kiptum at the 2023 Chicago Marathon with a time of 2:00:35. He has run five of the 10 fastest marathons in history.Kipchoge claimed his first individual world championship title in 2003 by winning the junior race at the World Cross Country Championships and setting a world junior record over 5000 m on the track. At the age of eighteen, he became the senior 5000 m world champion at the 2003 World Championships with a championship record, then followed by an Olympic bronze for Kenya in 2004 and a bronze at the 2006 World Indoor Championships. A five-time World Championship 5000 m finalist, Kipchoge took silver medals at the 2007 World Championships, 2008 Beijing Olympics, and 2010 Commonwealth Games. He switched to road running in 2012 and made the second-fastest half marathon debut ever, at 59:25. In his marathon debut, he won the 2013 Hamburg Marathon in a course record time. His first victory at a World Marathon Major came at the Chicago Marathon in 2014, and he went on to become series champion a record five times – for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022. He has won the London Marathon a record four times and also holds the record for most Berlin Marathon wins with five, his latest coming in September 2023. With 15 victories out of his 18 marathons, Kipchoge's only losses have been a second-place finish behind Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich at the 2013 Berlin Marathon, where Kipsang broke the world record, an eighth-place finish at the 2020 London Marathon and a sixth place in his debut at the Boston Marathon in 2023. Kipchoge's last world record run broke by 30 seconds his own 2018 world record, which was in turn a 78-second improvement over the existing best, the greatest improvement in a marathon world record time since 1967. On 12 October 2019, Kipchoge ran the marathon distance for the Ineos 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, achieving a time of 1:59:40.2, becoming the first person in recorded history to do a sub-two-hour marathon. The run did not count as a new marathon record, as standard competition rules for pacing and fluids were not followed, and it was not an open event.Kipchoge was appointed Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart by President Uhuru Kenyatta on 20 October 2019 in recognition of his sub-two-hour marathon. He was also named the 2019 BBC World Sport Star of the Year. In 2023 he was awarded the Princess of Asturias Award in the category "Sports".

Photo of Kipchoge Keino

2. Kipchoge Keino (1940 - )

With an HPI of 50.35, Kipchoge Keino is the 2nd most famous Kenyan Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.

Kipchoge Hezekiah "Kip" Keino (born 17 January 1940) is a retired Kenyan track and field athlete. He was the chairman of the Kenyan Olympic Committee (KOC) until 29 September 2017. A two-time Olympic gold medalist, Keino was among the first in a long line of successful middle and long distance runners to come from the country and has helped and inspired many of his fellow countrymen and women to become the athletics force that they are today. In 2000, he became an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In 2012, he was one of 24 athletes inducted as inaugural members of the IAAF Hall of Fame.

Photo of Benjamin Kogo

3. Benjamin Kogo (1944 - 2022)

With an HPI of 49.44, Benjamin Kogo is the 3rd most famous Kenyan Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Benjamin Kogo (30 November 1944 – 20 January 2022) was a Kenyan athlete who specialised in 3000 metre steeplechase running. Kogo was born on 30 November 1944. He was from Arwos, Nandi County, Kenya. He became the first Kenyan to run steeplechase event in Olympics, was a silver medalist from 1968 Summer Olympics, in an event won by his compatriot Amos Biwott. At the 1964 Summer Olympics he failed to make the final at steeplechase. He won gold at the first All-Africa Games held in 1965 in Brazzaville. Kogo was also bronze medalist from the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. Kogo died on 20 January 2022, at the age of 77. He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer one year prior.

Photo of Amos Biwott

4. Amos Biwott (1947 - )

With an HPI of 45.03, Amos Biwott is the 4th most famous Kenyan Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Amos Biwott (born 8 September 1947) is a former Kenyan long-distance runner, winner of the 3000 m steeplechase at the 1968 Summer Olympics.Biwott was the first of a long line of Kenyan runners who starred in the 3000 m steeplechase since Biwott's surprising win at the 1968 Olympics; he pioneered the black Africa's dominance at the long-distance running. Biwott had only three steeplechase races before the Olympics, and his technique was unorthodox. Instead of placing one foot on the barrier and springing off, he cleared the obstacle in one leap, and in this way reduced the clearance time by half. He was the only runner to finish with completely dry feet in both the Olympic qualifying heat and the final, which he won by 0.6 seconds ahead of compatriot Benjamin Kogo.Biwott never won an international championship after the 1968 Olympics. He finished third at the 1970 British Commonwealth Games, was sixth at the 1972 Summer Olympics and completed his career with an eighth place at the 1974 British Commonwealth Games. He then worked for the Kenya Prisons Service until 1978, when he was prosecuted for theft. After that he worked as a watchman at a stadium.Biwott is married to Cherono Maiyo, one of the first Kenyan women to compete at the Summer Olympics. They married in 1973 and have five children.

Photo of Naftali Temu

5. Naftali Temu (1945 - 2003)

With an HPI of 44.78, Naftali Temu is the 5th most famous Kenyan Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Nabiba Naftali Temu (20 April 1945 – 10 March 2003) was a Kenyan long-distance runner. He became Kenya's first gold medalist when he won the 10,000 metres race at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

Photo of Paul Tergat

6. Paul Tergat (1969 - )

With an HPI of 43.73, Paul Tergat is the 6th most famous Kenyan Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Paul Kibii Tergat (born 17 June 1969) is a Kenyan former professional long distance runner. He became the first Kenyan man to set the world record in the marathon in 2003, with a time of 2:04:55, and is regarded as one of the most accomplished long-distance runners of all time. Runnerworld called him the "Most comprehensive runner of all time".Towards the end of his career, he concentrated exclusively on the marathon. Tergat set several world records and won many titles on the track, in cross country, and on the road. He lives and trains in Eldoret, Kenya.

Photo of Wilson Kipketer

7. Wilson Kipketer (1972 - )

With an HPI of 43.08, Wilson Kipketer is the 7th most famous Kenyan Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.

Wilson Kosgei Kipketer (born 12 December 1972) is a Danish former middle distance runner. He is the second fastest of all time over 800 meters, setting the world record and breaking his own record two more times all in 1997. He dominated the 800 m distance for a decade, remaining undefeated for a three-year period and running 8 of the 17 currently all-time fastest times. He won gold medals in three successive editions of the IAAF World Championships in Athletics. Though unable to compete in the 1996 Olympics near the peak of his career, he earned silver in 2000 and bronze in 2004. Kipketer's 800 meters world record stood for almost 13 years. It was surpassed on 22 August 2010, when David Rudisha beat it by 0.02 seconds, running 1:41.09. Rudisha would eventually go on to further lower the 800m world record to the first and only sub one minute 41 second run. Kipketer still currently holds the indoor world record for the 800 metres. Kipketer represented both Sparta and KIF during his running career.

Photo of Julius Sang

8. Julius Sang (1946 - 2004)

With an HPI of 42.39, Julius Sang is the 8th most famous Kenyan Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 18 different languages.

Julius Sang (19 September 1948 – 9 April 2004) was a Kenyan athlete. Along with teammates Robert Ouko, Charles Asati and Munyoro Nyamau he won the 4 x 400 relay race at the 1972 Summer Olympics for Kenya. He also took a bronze medal in the individual 400 meter race. He ran for North Carolina Central University, where he was part of their record-setting team at the Penn Relays. Sang was married to fellow runner Tecla Chemabwai Sang.

Photo of Munyoro Nyamau

9. Munyoro Nyamau (1942 - )

With an HPI of 41.42, Munyoro Nyamau is the 9th most famous Kenyan Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 17 different languages.

Munyoro Nyamau (Hezekiah Munyoro Nyamau; born 5 December 1942 or 6 December 1938) is a Kenyan former athlete and winner of the gold medal in the 4 × 400 m relay at the 1972 Summer Olympics. He won inter-school championships in Kisii when he was 15.He reached the semifinals of the 400 m and won a surprise silver medal as a member of the Kenyan 4 × 400 m relay team at the 1968 Summer Olympics. His teammates were Daniel Rudisha, Naftali Bon and Charles Asati. Nyamau won the gold medal in the 4 × 400 m relay at the 1970 British Commonwealth Games. In September 1970, Nyamau - with teammates Naftali Bon, Thomas Saisi and Robert Ouko - set the men's 4x880 yard world record at 7:11.6. At the Munich Olympic Games, Nyamau was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 400 m, but he won the gold medal in the absence of the United States as a member of the Kenyan 4 × 400 m relay team. Other members of the team were Charles Asati, Robert Ouko and Julius Sang. He joined the Kenya Army in 1963 and was employed by them until his retirement in 1997.

Photo of Charles Asati

10. Charles Asati (1946 - )

With an HPI of 41.39, Charles Asati is the 10th most famous Kenyan Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 18 different languages.

Charles Asati (born 3 March 1946) is a Kenyan former athlete, winner of a gold medal in 4 × 400 m relay at the 1972 Summer Olympics.

Pantheon has 106 people classified as athletes born between 1938 and 1996. Of these 106, 92 (86.79%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living athletes include Eliud Kipchoge, Kipchoge Keino, and Amos Biwott. The most famous deceased athletes include Benjamin Kogo, Naftali Temu, and Julius Sang. As of April 2022, 13 new athletes have been added to Pantheon including Benjamin Kogo, Munyoro Nyamau, and Wilson Kiprugut.

Living Athletes

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Deceased Athletes

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Newly Added Athletes (2022)

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Which Athletes were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 14 most globally memorable Athletes since 1700.