Born in Lessos, Nandi District, Joseph Keter, an officer of Kenyan Army, had only one good season throughout his athletics career, which culminated with an Olympic gold medal.
In Atlanta, the hot favourite to 3000 m steeplechase gold medal was a world record holder Moses Kiptanui. But in the Olympic final, Kiptanui was strongly challenged by his Armed Forces' colleague Keter. The Kenyan pair reached the final water jump side by side, but then Keter slowly edged ahead to win the gold medal by 1.11 seconds.
After the Olympic Games, Keter beat Kiptanui again in Zürich, running his personal best 8.05.99. After that glorious season, Keter kept running for some seasons and won the IAAF Grand Prix in 3000 m steeplechase in 1997.