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The master behind Eliud Kipchoge

Tuesday September 17 2019

Berlin race day 2018 : Eliud Kipchoge, his coach Patrick Sang (right) and physiotherapist Peter Nduhiu soak in the achievement after September's Berlin Marathon where Kipchoge shattered the world marathon record. PHOTO| DAN VERNON

Berlin race day 2018 : Eliud Kipchoge, his coach Patrick Sang (right) and physiotherapist Peter Nduhiu soak in the achievement after September's Berlin Marathon where Kipchoge shattered the world marathon record. PHOTO| DAN VERNON 

ELIAS MAKORI
By ELIAS MAKORI
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Eliud Kipchoge’s coach Patrick Sang is methodical, meticulous, not easily distracted and a stickler for detail.

This I confirmed, for the umpteenth time, at the weekend when I alluded to the possibility of Geoffrey Kamworor’s 58:01 half marathon record last Sunday in Copenhagen being a result of the fact that he’s part of Eliud Kipchoge’s INEOS 1:59 Challenge training partners and supporting cast at Kaptagat.

No. Sang wouldn’t take the bait.

He’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of person.

He believes each one of his athletes has charted out his or her own path.

“You’ll have to excuse the fact that I don’t want to mix the coming project (INEOS 1:59 Challenge) and this moment (Kamworor’s world record),” he reacted.

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“However, we cannot separate the fact that the two athletes (Kipchoge and Kamworor) share the same support systems, train together in some sessions, etc.

“If there’s one to compare the two and what’s ahead, it’s the observers, media and the lovers of our beautiful sport,” he skilfully tackled my question. If there’s anyone who can predict Kipchoge’s performances, then it’s Sang, the Olympic Games and World Championships steeplechase silver medallist who has coached the world marathon record holder for the last 19 years. Since that day when a young boy approached him at a local athletics championship in Nandi County and pleaded “please, help me with a training programme.”

Sang instinctively crafted a programme for the 16-year-old and almost 19 years later, that young boy is about to become the first man to run the marathon in under two hours.

And he holds Sang in reverence. “When you talk about Sang, I lack words to describe him,” Kipchoge told me on the sidelines of the IAAF Gala in Monaco last November.

“I admire his coaching skills and he’s been with me since an early age. He’s more than just a coach. He’s my coach, he’s my teacher and he’s my life coach. And above all, he’s brought me to this level.”

The US-schooled Sang, a father of two, believes Kenyan coaches have what it takes to develop world class talent, and he has been vindicated by his own coaching career that has yielded two of the greatest ever distance runners — world record holders Kipchoge (2:01:39 in the marathon) and now Kamworor (58:01 in the half marathon).

And when Kipchoge dips under two hours in Vienna next month, Sang will have further cemented his reputation as one of the greatest athletics coaches in the world.

“If there’s anyone who can predict Kipchoge’s performances, then it’s Sang who has coached the world marathon record holder for the last 19 years”

Patrick Sang Bio:

Name: PATRICK SANG

Date of birth: April 11, 1964

Place of birth: Kapsisiywa, Nandi County

Management stable: Global Sports Communication/ NN Running Team (Netherlands/ Kaptagat)

Honours: Silver medal: 3,000m steeplechase (8:09.05), 1992 Olympic Games (Barcelona); Silver medal: 3,000m steeplechase (8:07.53), 1993 IAAF World Championships (Stuttgart); Silver medal: 3,000m steeplechase (8:13.44), 1991 IAAF World Championships (Tokyo); Gold medal: 3,000m steeplechase (8:33.69), 1987 All African Games (Nairobi); Gold medal: 3,000m steeplechase (8:32.79), 1989 World University Games (Duisburg, Germany)

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