Kenya Announces Shock 2024 Olympic Marathon Team – Was The Nike Fix In? + Eliud Kipchoge Goes For History

Kipchoge will go for unprecedented third straight gold; Brigid Kosgei earned final women's spot over Rosemary Wanjiru and Sharon Lokedi

Ending months of speculation, Athletics Kenya announced its final marathon teams for the 2024 Olympic Games on Wednesday. The men’s team was as expected. Two-time defending Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge, who will go for an unprecedented third gold in Paris, leads the men’s squad alongside Tokyo Marathon champion Benson Kipruto and London Marathon champion Alexander Mutiso. Timothy Kiplagat (2nd in Tokyo this year in 2:02:55) was named as the alternate.

The women’s team contained a shock third selection. Hellen Obiri, who has won her last three marathons (Boston twice and NYC once) and reigning Olympic and London Marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir headline the team as expected. But former world record holder Brigid Kosgei was selected for the third spot ahead of Rosemary Wanjiru (2nd in Tokyo in March in 2:16:14 — the fastest time by a Kenyan woman in 2024) and Sharon Lokedi (who beat Kosgei head-to-head in New York in November and was 2nd in Boston this year). While Kosgei held the world record of 2:14:04 from 2019-23 and is the reigning Olympic silver medalist, her form has dropped in recent marathons. Lokedi was named as the alternate.

The Olympic marathons will be held on the final two days of the Games in Paris. The men’s race is August 10, with the women’s race on August 11 — the first time the women’s race has been held on the final day of the Games.

We break down the selections below and wonder if the Nike fix was in.

LRC Analysis

1) It’s legitimately stunning to see Brigid Kosgei on this team 

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When Athletics Kenya names its Olympic marathon team, there is usually one big surprise, and Kosgei’s selection certainly qualifies. Here is Kosgei’s marathon track record over the past two years:

2022 London: Withdrew due to hamstring injury.
2023 London: DNF within the first mile due to hamstring injury.
2023 New York: 4th in 2:27:45. 3rd Kenyan behind Hellen Obiri (2:27:23) and Sharon Lokedi (2:27:33).
2023 Abu Dhabi: 1st in 2:19:15. Won race by nearly five minutes.
2024 London: 5th in 2:19:02. 3rd Kenyan behind Peres Jepchirchir (2:16:16) and Joyciline Jepkosgei (2:16:24).

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So in her last five marathons, she has one DNS, one DNF, one win (against a weak field), and two races in which she finished off the podium. Meanwhile compare that to the form of Sharon Lokedi and Rosemary Wanjiru over the same period:


2022 New York: 1st in 2:23:23.
2023 Boston: Withdrew due to ankle injury.
2023 New York: 3rd in 2:27:33. 2nd Kenyan behind Hellen Obiri (2:27:23). Beat Kosgei (2:27:45) head-to-head.
2024 Boston: 2nd in 2:22:45. 2nd Kenyan behind Hellen Obiri (2:22:37).


2022 Berlin: 2nd in 2:18:00. 1st Kenyan.
2023 Tokyo: 1st in 2:16:28.
2023 Worlds: 6th in 2:26:42. 1st Kenyan.
2024 Tokyo: 2nd in 2:16:14. 1st Kenyan.

Lokedi beat Kosgei in New York in November but will not be going to Paris (Kevin Morris photo)

Based on recent form, there is simply no argument for Kosgei ahead of Lokedi or Wanjiru. Lokedi has only lost to one Kenyan (Obiri) and beat Kosgei head-to-head six months ago in New York. Wanjiru has not lost to a Kenyan in that span.

Former NYC/London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei has also been better than Kosgei recently as Jepkosgei ran 2:17:23 for 4th in Chicago last fall and beat Kosgei by 2:38 in London in April — though Jepkosgei was not among the six finalists named by AK on April 4.

If you value fast times, Wanjiru is the fastest Kenyan of 2024 (2:16:14) and the second-fastest of 2023 (2:16:28). During the same span, Kosgei’s best time is 2:19:02, which makes her the sixth-fastest Kenyan of 2024. If you value performance on hilly courses — which the Olympic course certainly is — Lokedi has run very well in Boston/NYC three times while Kosgei’s recent races have all come on flat courses. Kosgei has had some success on tough courses, winning the Honolulu Marathon twice, but those victories were way back in 2016 and 2017.

The argument for Kosgei is that her career body of work dwarfs both Lokedi and Wanjiru. Kosgei was the world’s best female marathoner from 2018-20, winning four majors in that span and setting a world record of 2:14:04 in Chicago in 2019 (a time that remains the Kenyan record and #3 all-time). And she was still very, very good for the next two years, earning Olympic silver in 2021 and running 2:16:02 to win Tokyo in March 2022.

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But when selecting an Olympic marathon team, recent form has to matter. On the men’s side, Eliud Kipchoge is a similar “legacy” pick to Kosgei, but there are two key differences. One is that Kipchoge’s legacy — two-time defending Olympic champion, undisputed GOAT — is far greater than Kosgei’s. And the other is that Kipchoge has a recent major marathon victory on his resume: he won Berlin in September in 2:02:42, the fastest time by a Kenyan man last year outside of the late Kelvin Kiptum.

2) Was the fix in?

There is one other important detail to note about the Kenyan women’s Olympic team. Kosgei is sponsored by Nike, which also sponsors Athletics Kenya. Had AK selected either Lokedi (Under Armour) or Wanjiru (adidas), there would have been no Nike athletes on the women’s team as Jepchirchir is sponsored by adidas and Obiri is sponsored by On.

Two prominent Kenyan journalists believe shoe affiliation played a role in the decisionmaking process. Mutwiri Mutuota referred to the decision as a “swoosh affair” while another Kenyan journalist, Michelle Katami, suggested the same.

It’s hard to ignore that all of Athletics Kenya’s recent controversial marathon selections have benefitted Nike athletes. In 2012, AK picked Moses Mosop (Nike) over Geoffrey Mutai (adidas), Patrick Makau (adidas), and Emmanuel Mutai (adidas). In 2016, AK picked Visiline Jepkesho (Nike) over Mary Keitany (adidas) and Florence Kiplagat (Nike). The most baffling selection of all was when AK named Wesley Korir to the men’s team in 2016 even though he had gone four years without a podium finish in any marathon. Korir’s sponsor? You guessed it, Nike.

We’ve reached out to Athletics Kenya to ask why Kosgei was selected and will update this story if we receive a response.

3) Let’s compare some blind resumes on the men’s side

Last month, Kenya named five finalists for its Olympic marathon team: Eliud Kipchoge, Alexander Mutiso, Benson Kipruto, Timothy Kiplagat, and Vincent Ngetich. Mutiso (who won London) and Kipruto (who won Tokyo) were pretty clearly on the team after their spring marathon performances, leaving one last spot, which went to Kipchoge.

But was he the right pick? Let’s do a blind comparison of Kipchoge, Kiplagat, and Ngetich over the last three marathon windows. And let’s throw in Evans Chebet for fun as many pundits — including us at — viewed him as a contender, even though he was not named to either of Athletics Kenya’s provisional marathon teams after missing the 2023 fall marathon season with an Achilles injury. During a 12-month span across 2022 and 2023, Chebet won Boston, New York, and Boston again and when Chebet returned to racing on April 15, he finished as the top Kenyan in Boston in 2:07:22 (3rd overall).

Season Runner A Runner B Runner C Runner D
Spring 2023 No marathon (59:10 for 3rd at Lisbon Half) 6th Boston 2:09:23 1st Boston 2:05:54 2nd Rotterdam 2:03:50
Fall 2023 2nd Berlin 2:03:13 1st Berlin 2:02:42 DNS (injured) 13th Worlds 2:11:25
Spring 2024 3rd Tokyo 2:04:18 10th Tokyo 2:06:50 3rd Boston 2:07:22 2nd Tokyo 2:02:55

Each runner has at least one great marathon and one stinker or DNS during that span. Runner B has the fastest marathon in the period but is the only one with two bad races. Runner D has no wins in the period but has a head-to-head win over Runner A and Runner B this spring.

It’s a tough call, but based solely on the info above, we’d go with Runner C, who has a fast win in Boston and was the only one not to lose to a fellow Kenyan in the last 18 months.

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So who is who? Runner A is Vincent Ngetich, Runner B is Eliud Kipchoge, Runner C is Evans Chebet, and Runner D is Timothy Kiplagat.

So did Chebet get screwed? Not really. If you expand the window back to the fall of 2022, Kipchoge suddenly gets a 2:01:09 world record on his resume (though Chebet also gets a NYC win). And the fact that Chebet had to withdraw from NYC last fall due to an Achilles injury (which still bothered him during his 2024 Boston build, even though he raced well) is not insignificant.

The knock against Kipchoge is that he has no history of success on a hilly course (2023 Boston was the only time he has raced on one) while Chebet has multiple hilly WMM victories. But Kipchoge is also a two-time Olympic champion and was the fastest Kenyan of 2023 outside of Kiptum. Kipchoge is a defensible selection, particularly since he’s the marathon GOAT.

Of course, based on what happened with the women, it must be pointed out that Kipchoge is sponsored by Nike while Chebet is sponsored by adidas (Vincent Ngetich is sponsored by Asics and Timothy Kiplagat is also Nike). No way in hell was Athletics Kenya going to leave off the Nike-sponsored marathon GOAT who also had the fastest time during the qualifying window.

It’s interesting to consider what would have happened if Kelvin Kiptum (also a Nike athlete — but don’t tell that to China’s Qiaodan) had lived. Kiptum obviously would have been on the team, meaning Kipchoge would have had to have beaten out either Benson Kipruto (3rd 2023 Boston, 2nd 2023 Chicago, 1st 2024 Tokyo) or Alexander Mutiso (1st 2023 Prague, 2nd 2023 Valencia, 1st 2023 London) in order to be named to the team.

4) Eliud Kipchoge will be chasing all sorts of history in Paris

Officially, Eliud Kipchoge is 39 years old, though a number of sources in the running world believe him to a be a few years older. The fact that he is even competing in Paris is historic in and of itself. Kipchoge’s first Olympics was Athens in 2004, and he didn’t just compete: he earned the bronze medal in the 5,000 meters. He upgraded that to a silver in Beijing in 2008, then moved up to the 10,000 in 2012 but failed to make the Kenyan team. He won his first marathon gold in Rio in 2016 and a second in Sapporo in 2021.

Here’s a look at the history Kipchoge will/could make this summer:

What Kipchoge will accomplish by racing in Paris

What Kipchoge could accomplish with a medal

  • First person to earn three Olympic marathon medals
  • First men’s track & field athlete to medal in five Olympics

What Kipchoge could accomplish with a gold

  • Oldest runner to win Olympic gold in any event (h/t Nick Zaccardi)
  • First person to win three Olympic marathon golds
  • First runner to win global titles 21 years apart (2003 Worlds 5,000/2024 Olympic marathon)

What do you think of the Kenyan Olympic team? Discuss in this thread: BREAKING Kenyan marathon team announced Kipchoge, Kipruto, Mutiso, Obiri, Jepchirchir, Kosgei

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