Many might not talk about Patrick Sang’s athletics career, but you can’t ignore his coaching success. He’s the man behind Eliud Kipchoge and Faith Kipyegon’s achievements. For this, he’s earned his stripes in the running world and is revered for treating his athletes as human beings first before looking at them as runners. How did Patrick Sang become one of the best coaches in his discipline?
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Patrick Sang’s Athletics Career
Patrick Sang was born in Nandi. He did his primary and high school education here before he got a scholarship to attend the University of Texas. He represented them and later launched his professional career as a 3000-metre steeplechaser.
He represented Kenya and won a silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Games, two silver medals at the Tokyo 1991 and 1993 Stuttgart World Championships, and a gold in Nairobi at the All-Africa Games.
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After he ended his running career, Patrick Sang transitioned to coaching. However, he wasn’t entirely new to this as he trained himself. That said, upon the realization that he could only teach the steeplechase, he took a World Athletics course and studied all levels of coaching together with middle and long-distance running.
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Working with Eliud Kipchoge
Patrick Sang first met Eliud as a 16-year-old in the dirty tracks in Nandi. Eliud needed a training program, and Sang, without knowing him, provided that support.
After a few interactions, Sang sought to find out more about him, and their coach-athlete partnership began. After Kipchoge’s world record of 2.01.09 in Berlin in 2022, Sang reflected on their journey with the INEOS 159 Challenge.
“After his world record in Berlin, I couldn’t help but go back to our first meeting. What if I didn’t pay attention to him and turned him down? Would things turn out differently for him? Would the world have this type of runner?” Sang reflected.
As a long-time trainer, Sang knows what it takes to become an elite athlete and a world champion. Under his guidance, Kipchoge has broken the world record twice and became the first man to run a marathon under 2 hours, albeit under special conditions. He explains what makes Eliud different.
“Eliud has unwavering belief, unlike anyone I’ve ever met before. He demonstrated his strength and character during the INEOS 159 Challenge. On the morning of the race, I looked at him and saw that he totally believed he would run under 2 hours. It’s important we learn from him, keep the belief and continue preparing him.” Sang said.
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What Makes a Good Coach?
It’s not a fluke that Patrick Sang has produced successful athletes. Kipchoge might be the most highly profiled, but he also works with Faith Kipyegon, nominated for the Female Athlete of the Year award after breaking three world records, and Geoffrey Kamworor.
Apart from the technical training, Sang says an athlete’s psychology is important for success.
“Psychology makes a big difference. Without it, training might not be optimal. It’s also important to understand their background because we have different experiences. How you handle someone from a submissive background is different to a person from a liberal environment,” he told NN Running Team.
It also helps that the athletes he works with athletes who trust him. He tells World Athletics.
“Without trust, you can’t go far. My athletes have never questioned me. They trust in the process, although that puts pressure on me. That said, whatever we achieve is a result of teamwork so I can’t claim all the credit.”
Patrick Sang will always be remembered for producing world champions. His work doesn’t go unnoticed. Eliud and Kipyegon always acknowledge him for his role.
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