To inspire the world in Tokyo and change the world with Laureus
Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s greatest marathon runner and the first athlete to break the two hour mark for a marathon, has become the newest Laureus Ambassador.
The announcement was made on the second anniversary of one of his greatest athletics feats, when he ran the fastest time ever in a marathon in Berlin in 2 hrs 1 min 39 secs – breaking the previous record by 78 seconds, the biggest improvement on the marathon world record in 51 years.
Eliud, the latest in a long line of distinguished Kenyan long distance runners, and a winner of the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award, also famously became the only athlete to run a marathon in under two hours, recording 1hr 59mins 40secs, in Vienna in October 2019. It was a landmark achievement, though not an official world record because it was not in open competition.
In an interview with Laureus Academy Member and Olympic legend Michael Johnson on Laureus.com, Kipchoge confirmed his intention to compete in the marathon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics next year, even though he would be 36.
“I was really looking forward to running in the Tokyo Olympics. Unfortunately COVID-19 changed the world and health and safety is the first priority,” said Eliud. “I am really looking forward to running next year. It will be an honour to be there next year, I am fit and will do everything I can to make the Kenyan team and represent my country.”
He says he is also looking forward to competing in the re-arranged London Marathon on October 4. “I am happy to be coming back to London for a very different and exciting race. I have prepared as best I can under the circumstances, I think I am ready. We will miss all the fun runners and the crowds. In my mind we will still run together. Actually that is an extra motivation to run a great race.”
In addition to his sporting targets, Eliud is now a member of the Laureus Family whose goal is to use the power of sport to change young people’s lives for the better. He joins a group of more than 200 Laureus Ambassadors and 69 Laureus World Sports Academy Members, all of whom work to support Laureus Sport for Good. Since its inception, Laureus has improved the lives of six million young people in over 40 countries and currently supports more than 200 community sports-based programmes.
Eliud, who has won 12 of the 13 marathons he has entered, said: “I am feeling truly glad to be an Ambassador for Laureus. I will be joining great sportsmen and women of this world to share good ideas about sport. On the other hand I will be involved to see how Laureus is helping foundations that benefit the human family. Laureus uses sport to bring communities and individuals together. This will be even more important in the future as we try to rebuild our world for the better. I am really happy to be an Ambassador.”
Olympic legend and Laureus Academy Member Edwin Moses said: “I am delighted to welcome Eliud to Laureus. I know he is passionate about his beliefs and I know he will put in the same amount of commitment to helping us in our work with disadvantaged youth around the world as he does in his marathon running. What he has achieved is frankly amazing. The very first Laureus project, launched 20 years ago, was in Nairobi and it’s great to have Eliud on our team to help us with our work there and in Africa.”
Laureus Sport for Good was created 20 years ago in the aftermath of a remarkable speech by Nelson Mandela at the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000. He declared: ‘Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.’ President Mandela became the first Patron of Laureus.
In the interview with Michael Johnson on Laureus.com, Eliud revealed: “Nelson Mandela inspires me. This quote hangs on a poster by my bed in Kaptagat, as a motivation and as a reminder for me. Actually when I see that poster, I remember that running is also about inspiring others and encouraging people to believe that nothing is impossible. Sport can join people together, it is something that connects the world, and also makes us equal.”
Within six months of its creation Laureus was supporting its first programme in one of the poorest areas of Naorobi: MYSA (Mathare Youth Sports Association). Disease was widespread and AIDS was a serious problem. The programme pioneered the use of football as a tool to encourage co-operation and raise self-esteem in the young people of the community.
Over 14,000 youngsters play in over 90 football leagues, where success is measured not just by the goals scored in matches, but by the work the young people do in cleaning up the slums.
Young people who have been involved in Mathare since the beginning have become role models and youth leaders in their community. Laureus still supports this programme – after 20 years.