Kenyan legend Paul Tergat, the two-time Olympic 10,000-meter silver medalist and former world record-holder in the marathon, has been elected as a new member of the International Olympic Committee.
Tergat, 44, won the 2005 ING New York City Marathon in 2:09:30, three-tenths of a second ahead of South Africa’s Hendrick Ramaala, the defending champion, in what is still the closest finish in the history of the race. He also received the 2010 Abebe Bikila Award from New York Road Runners .
“It is a surprise and pleasing to be voted overwhelming by the members,” Tergat was quoted as saying by the International Sports Press Association. “I feel the whole world appreciates what I’ve done for the sport and their expectations for me should be equally big. But just the way I ran my races and broke the records, I am ready for the administration challenge that awaits ahead.”
In the drama-filled final miles of the ING New York City Marathon in 2005, Tergat and Ramaala traded surges in Central Park—with American Meb Keflezighi just a step behind—before the Kenyan and South African pulled away together with less than a mile to go. Running shoulder to shoulder, Tergat’s final push broke the tape as Ramaala tumbled to the ground.
Tergat is one of nine new IOC members, and replaces another Kenyan running legend, two-time Olympic gold medalist Kipchoge Keino.
In addition to his outstanding career, which included five consecutive IAAF World Cross Country titles between 1995 and 1999, Tergat is known for his humanitarian efforts. Among them are the Paul Tergat Foundation to awaken Africa’s potential by mobilizing resources for the disadvantaged, and his service as United Nations World Food Program Ambassador Against Hunger.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg