August 22, 1967 |
|Event(s)||400 meters, 800 meters|
|Achievements and titles|
|Personal best(s)||400 meters: 45.6
800 meters: 1:43.16
Born in Kitale, Trans-Nzoia, Kenya, Paul Ereng attended Starehe Boys Centre and School in Nairobi, Kenya. He was a promising 400 m runner until the end of 1987. After enrolling at the University of Virginia, Ereng took up the 800 m in early 1988.
Ereng was undefeated during the U.S. outdoor season in early 1988. While running for UVA, he won the NCAA 800 meter title in 1988 and 1989. But in the Kenyan Olympic trials, Ereng barely qualified for the Olympic team, finishing third. Despite his rapid development, Ereng wasn't seen as a potential gold medalist when he arrived at the Olympic Games in Seoul. However, people started to rate his chances more seriously after he won his semi-final in a personal best of 1:44.55.
In the Olympic final, Ereng was fourth as they entered the straight, but he then surged past the three runners in front of him to win the gold medal. After the Olympics, he returned home to Kenya to a hero's welcome, the highlight of which was receiving, in a time-honoured tradition, his gold medal was once more presented to him during evening assembly at his former school, Starehe, by the late Dr. Geoffrey William Griffin. At the World Indoor Championships in Budapest the following year, Ereng produced a devastating finish to win the gold medal in a new world indoor record of 1:44.84.
In 1991, Ereng retained his world indoor title at Seville, but was only fourth in the World Championships at Tokyo. Ereng never posed a serious threat in major international championships after that, and he was eliminated in the semi-finals at the 1992 Olympic Games.
Ereng graduated from Virginia in 1993 with a bachelor's degree in religious studies with a minor in sociology. He owns a 50-acre (200,000 m2) farm in Kitale. His wife, Fatima, a former sales executive of the Nation Media Group. He subsequently took up a job as an athletics coach in the University of Texas at El Paso.
- Daily Nation, June 3, 2000: After the gold rush
- Paul Ereng profile at IAAF
- Paul Ereng profile
- Flotrack.com Video interview of Paul Ereng