|NOAH NGENY, Kenya|
Noah Kiprono Ngeny (born November 2, 1978) is a Kenyan athlete, and the surprise winner of the 1500 m at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Ngeny played volleyball during his school years and did not start running until 1996.
Ngeny first came to international prominence by setting two World Junior records in 1997 - 3:32.91 for 1500 m in Monaco and 3:50.41 for the Mile in Nice, and under the guidance of renowned manager and coach, the late Kim McDonald, his progression continued in 1998, improving his 1500 m time to 3:30.34 in Monaco.
In 1999 July 7, in Roma, Ngeny was second to El Guerrouj when the latter set the world record (3:43.13) for the mile run. Ngeny stayed close to Hicham El Guerrouj down the stretch to finish at 3:43.40, still the second fastest mile ever run, and almost a full second inside the old WR (3:44.39) of Noureddine Morceli.
In 1999 August 24, Ngeny took the 1500 m silver medal (3:28.73) in the IAAF 1999 World Championships in Athletics in Seville, Spain, behind the reigning world champion El Guerrouj (3:27.65).
In 1999 September 5, Ngeny set the current world record 2:11.96 over 1,000 meters in Rieti, Italy, breaking the 18 years-standing record 2:12.18 held by Sebastian Coe (Coe's record was achieved in 1981). Ngeny's time of 2:11.96 still stands as the World record with no other runner coming within 2 seconds of the time since.. The previous record had been the oldest standing record at the time. It was also the last world record of any running distance that had not been previously held by an athlete of African descent.
In 1999 Ngeny recorded six sub 3:30 clockings for 1500 m and established himself as the closest rival to World champion and World record holder Hicham El Guerrouj.
In 2000 August 11, Ngeny finished second to El Guerrouj (3:27.21) in the 1500 m at the Weltklasse Zürich meet in a time of 3:28.12, making him the Kenyan record holder and third fastest ever in the event. This record was surpassed by Bernard Lagat's 3:26.34 in Brussels in 2001 August 24. Lagat achieved this record when he finished 2nd behind Hicham El Guerrouj (3:26.12).
In 2000 September 29, at the 1500 m final of 2000 Sydney Olympics, Hicham El Guerrouj, world record holder and twice world champion, had only been defeated once since the previous Olympics, and was the overwhelming favourite. The two rivals lead the race going into the last lap of the final, El Guerrouj leading Ngeny. With less than 100 m to go, Ngeny started moving next to the leader, grabbing the lead with just 15 m to go. He held on until the finish line, causing one of the greatest upsets at the Sydney Olympics.
In the process, Ngeny set an Olympic record of 3:32.07, surpassing Sebastian Coe's Olympics record of 3:32.53, set in 1984. Hicham El Guerrouj settled for silver in 3:32.32 and Ngeny's compatriat Bernard Lagat, another Kenyan runner at that time, now a US citizen, took bronze in 3:32.44.
Noah Ngeny became the third Kenyan to win the 1500 m crown following Kip Keino (1968 Mexico City Olympics) and Peter Rono (1988 Seoul Olympics).
The year 2000 was the highlight of Ngeny's running career. He posted career bests of 1:44.49 for 800 m (2000 July 28 in Oslo) and 3:28.12 for 1500 m (at the Weltklasse Zürich in 2000 August 11), en route to his Olympic triumph (2000 September 29).
His career best time of 3:28.12 at Zürich now makes him the 4th fastest 1500 metres runner of all-time, behind Hicham El Guerrouj, Bernard Lagat, and Noureddine Morceli.
While El Guerrouj went on to win the 2001 and 2003 World Championships, Ngeny could not follow up his 2000 success, partly due to a debilitating car accident.
Ngeny returned to Australia in 2001 to win the Goodwill Games Mile in Brisbane but a car crash in Kenya in November of that year put him out of action for much of the winter. The injury sustained in the car accident (injury to the back and pelvis) dogged Ngeny ever since. He competed sparsely in 2003 & 2004 recording a best time of 3:33.38 but failing in his attempt to qualify for the Kenyan Olympic team, and was not able to defend his title in Athens.
Ngeny did not run at the Kenyan trials of the 2003 world championships because of the injuries.
Ngeny announced his official retirement from international athletics on 22 November 2006.
Ngeny was so proud of his performance at the 2000 Sydney Olympics that he named his daughter Marion Sydney Ngeny