21st August 2019
Augustine Choge on Eliud Kipchoge
Augustine Choge is a two-time World Indoor 3000m medallist and a former 5000m Commonwealth Games champion. The Kenyan international will fulfil the role of pacemaker as part of the INEOS 1:59 Challenge and is a long-time friend of Eliud Kipchoge.
I first met Eliud more than 15 years ago competing on the Kenyan cross country circuit. He and I along with Brimin Kipruto (the 2008 Olympic steeplechase champion) quickly got along, and the three of us have become great friends.
I recall travelling with Eliud to compete as part of the Kenyan Junior team at the 2003 World Cross Country Championships in Lausanne. He was like a brother to me in that pre-event training camp. I was just this small, skinny guy but Eliud was always very supportive and encouraging. He has been like a father-figure to me, a mentor and a friend.
Eliud is never jealous. He just wants every athlete to be the best that they can be. He always freely offered a lot of advice and always made sure we are always on time for training and focused for every session.
Back in my younger days I was a bit of a party guy. Sometimes after training I preferred to have some fun. But he always said, ‘if you want to be successful in sport you have to be disciplined and make sacrifices’. He advised me to make sure I went to bed early, to get proper rest and stop the partying. He never does this harshly; he always gives advice in a friendly way but he will be honest enough to tell you if he believes your lifestyle is not good.
Eliud is the most successful athlete we have in Kenya and everyone respects him. He has always had a very mature approach and he also stresses the importance of family life. I listened to his words and this helped my career.
Eliud has also been a big help outside of athletics and is happy to give out financial advice. He once told me if you receive 1000 Kenyan Shillings make sure you save half and use the rest sensibly for family life and to invest in your future. Many young athletes can get carried away. After enjoying some success they can spend money recklessly on fancy cars and fancy things. But he has always encouraged me to think of my life after my career is over. He advised me to invest my money in a tea plantation as a good long-term investment. He also wants to make sure his friends plan their life well for the future; you can continue to be a valued member of society.
For many years I lived in an apartment on the same plot of land as Eliud. It was nice to be close to my good friend. His family always treated me like the first born. Today we share a room in the camp together, so we hang out a lot together.
He has made me a better person. His encouragement and support over the years have played a big part in my success. His influence is infectious. He has always made me believe anything is possible and he has made me believe in myself. That it is possible to be a better person. Eliud is one guy who has always been honest with himself and all those around him.
Of course, Eliud has always been very lucky to have had a great mentor in Patrick Sang. Eliud has learned a lot from his coach in terms of the discipline that has been required to succeed at the highest level. Patrick has been a big influence.
For me, to have been selected to act as a pacemaker for the INEOS 1:59 Challenge means a lot to me. In terms of whether he can break the two-hour barrier; I would say anything is possible. In fact, I am extremely confident because I have seen the focus in his training and his form it better than ever. I have seen the support he has in camp from his team-mates and the support of the team. If Eliud is successful, it will be a success for all of us. He is a man of the people. We are proud of what he has done and should he achieve a sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna it will show us nothing is impossible.