Agnes Jebet Tirop

Honoring A Hero

Agnes Jebet Tirop

A World Record Holder

Agnes Jebet Tirop (23 October 1995 – 13 October 2021) was a Kenyan professional long-distance runner who mainly competed in the 5000 metres and cross country running. At the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships she became the second-youngest ever gold medalist in the women’s race. She was a medalist at junior level at the World Cross Country and World Junior Championships in Athletics. She was also the junior champion at the African Cross Country Championships in 2014. She held a 5000 m best of 14:50.36 minutes. She won the bronze medal in the 10,000 metres events at the 2017 and 2019 World Athletics Championships and, at the time of her death in 2021, was the world-record holder in the 10 kilometres women’s only event.

A Remarkable Career

Agnes Tirop first gained national attention in 2012, when she finished second to world junior champion Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon in the Kenyan Cross Country Championships. This resulted in her first national selection and international medal at the 2012 African Cross Country Championships, where she finished second to Kipyegon and won the junior silver medal. She was Kenya’s most prominent entrant in the 5000m at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Athletics, where she finished third in a personal best of 15:36.74 minutes.

Tirop finished second to Kipyegon again in the 2013 Kenyan Cross Country Championships, and their collaboration led to a Kenyan 1–2 and team title at the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

Kipyegon successfully defended her title, while Tirop finished a close second to win her first medal of the competition. That year, she improved on the track, setting personal bests of 8:39.13 minutes for the 3000 metres and 14:50.36 minutes for the 5000 metres, as well as on the roads, where she ran a half marathon in 71:57 minutes.

In the 2014 season she finally emerged from Kipyegon’s shadow. Tirop won the Kenyan cross country junior title and then dominated the junior race at the 2014 African Cross Country Championships, leading the Kenyans to victory by a 14-second margin (Kipyegon won both senior races).She was unable to achieve such a margin over African runner-up Alemitu Heroye at the 2014 World Junior Championships in Athletics and was again third in the 5000 m, while the Ethiopians extended Kenya’s historic lack of a gold medal in that event.

Tirop debuted in the senior ranks in 2015 and made an immediate impact, winning the Eldoret Discovery Cross Country in Kenya. She finished second to Kipyegon in the Kenyan senior national championship race and was selected for the senior national team. Tirop took to the front and gradually moved away from the field to win the senior gold medal by five seconds at the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, her senior international debut as the fourth youngest athlete in the field. This made the 19-year-old the second-youngest winner of that title in championships history, trailing only Zola Budd’s win in 1985, and gave Kenya its 300th medal at the competition.

In 2017, she competed in the World Championships in London, where she won bronze in the 10,000 metres with a time of 31:03.50, her personal best in the distance. In 2018, she set a course record in the World 10K Bangalore race. At the 2019 World Athletics Championships, she took bronze in the same event.

Agnes Jebet Tirop finished fourth in the 5000m event at the postponed 2020 Summer Olympics. She broke the world record in a 10 kilometre women-only event in September 2021. In an event in Herzogenaurach, Germany, she set a time of 30:01. In October 2021, she finished second in the Giants Geneva race, trailing only Kalkidan Gezahegne, with a time of 30:20.

Medal record

World Championships
Bronze medal – third place2019 Doha10,000 m
Bronze medal – third place2017 London10,000 m
World Junior Championships
Bronze medal – third place2014 Eugene5000 m
Bronze medal – third place2012 Barcelona5000 m
World Cross Country Championships
Gold medal – first place2017 KampalaSenior team
Gold medal – first place2015 GuiyangSenior race
Gold medal – first place2013 BydgoszczJunior team
Silver medal – second place2015 GuiyangSenior team
Silver medal – second place2013 BydgoszczJunior race