Bernard Lagat life and biography

Bernard Lagat picture, image, poster

Bernard Lagat biography

Date of birth : 1974-12-12
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Kapsabet, Kenya
Nationality : American
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2010-07-06
Credited as : Track and field athlete, ,

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Bernard Lagat (also known as: Bernard Kipchirchir Lagat) born December 12, 1974 in Kapsabet, Kenya is an American track and field athlete .

Bernard Lagat won Olympic medals in middle- and long-distance running for his native Kenya before taking U.S. citizenship in 2004. Lagat, a former All-American at Washington State University, expects to compete for the United States in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Lagat was also the 2007 world champion in the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter runs.

Top Colleges Bypassed Him

Lagat grew up on his family farm in Kapsabet, Kenya. He ran one-and-a-half miles to school each way daily, and ran again on lunch breaks as well. "For all that, he was little more than a mediocre runner by his midteens," Luke Cyphers wrote in ESPN The Magazine. His faster peers in Kenya, known for producing Olympic and marquee marathon champions, turned pro. Lagat, meanwhile, enrolled at Jomo Kenyatta University, near Nairobi. One local coach contacted several Amercian colleges, and Washington State recruited him. "Within a year, Lagat was winning Pac-10 meets en route to a title-filled NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association] career," Cyphers wrote.

Lagat was an 11-time All-American while at Washington State, where he earned degrees in management information systems and division science-econometrics in 2000 and 2001, respectively. But he appeared to be a longshot for making the Kenyan team for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Agent James Templeton signed him in 1999 more for his steadying influence on younger runners than for his actual talent. But that summer, Lagat, who bypassed his senior year of athletics in college, blossomed in world competition, running three minutes, 30.56 seconds in the 1,500 meters in Zurich, Switzerland, that summer. Lagat hired James Li as his coach, and won a third place bronze medal in Sydney.

Shortly before the 2003 world championships in Paris, France, officials informed Lagat that he had tested positive for EPO, a banned hormone that builds stamina. He was cleared when his follow-up, or B sample, tested negative. Lagat got reassurance of public support at an indoor meet in Boston, Massachusetts, in January of 2004. "I was expecting people to boo, to say, 'There's the druggie,'" Lagat told Cyphers. "But they cheered me so much. For months I'd been wondering, Why did this happen to me? I was contemplating quitting. But they welcomed me like they would an American. I almost cried."

Runner-up in 2004 Summer Games

That summer, Lagat secretly took U.S. citizenship but did not announce it until after the 2004 Olympiad. In those Summer Games at Athens, Greece, Lagat lost a tough race to Moroccan mainstay Hicham El Guerrouj, despite leading entering the final curve, and settled for a silver medal. "It was two good athletes at their best, neck to neck, stride for stride. What more could you ask?," Lagat said, as quoted by Cyphers, who added: "To hear Lagat recount those final stretches is to feel chills and to remember that sportsmanship still exists."

----Competing for the United States in the 2007 world championships in Osaka, Japanhe had to wait three years after changing citizenship before he could represent the United StatesLagat captured the 1,500 meters in 3:34.77 and the 5,000 meters. As the Beijing Games beckoned, Lagat and several younger runners provided hope for a strong showing in track and field. The success of the United States in the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia, triggered a resurgence in scholastic track and cross country programs. Cyphers also cited "a big increase in immigrants from countries where running is more popular than basketball or football."

Lagat has lived in Tucson, Arizona, where Li had moved after taking a coaching job at the University of Arizona. He and his wife, Gladys Tom, whom he met at Washington State, have a son, Miika Kimutai, born on January 12, 2006. "Except for his lack of a beer belly, Lagat is the picture of a comfortable suburban dad," Cyphers wrote. Lagat is also purchasing a home in Tübingen, Germany, which he expects to use as a training site for his European meets.

March 14, 2010: Lagat won the 3,000-meter race in a world indoor championships meet in Doha, Qatar.


NCAA All-American in cross country and track and field 11 times; NCAA Indoor Male Athlete of the Year, 1999; Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Male Athlete of the Year, three times.

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