Know your top cops in athletics circles

These athletics stars headline the police department in rank and file.

In Summary

•At the moment, there are at least four former track stars holding the rank of Commissioner of Police (CP), the fifth-highest rank in National Police Service.

•Former superstars in Marius Tum (400m), Tabitha Ranga (1500m), William Yampoyi (800m) and Karisa Mwaringa (100m) hold the rank of Commissioner of Police.

Abel Kirui after morning training at his home in Eldoret
Abel Kirui after morning training at his home in Eldoret
Image: Emmanuel Sabuni
Milcah Chemos during photo shoots.jpg
Milcah Chemos during photo shoots.jpg

Kenya is no doubt the world’s athletics superpower, thanks to its huge talent.

And National Police Service stands out as the goose that lays the golden athletics egg for Kenya.

These athletics stars headline the police department in rank and file. They boast of a sizeable number of senior officers, popularly known as gazetted officers –who are of or above the rank of Superintendent of Police (SP).

At the moment, there are at least four former track stars holding the rank of Commissioner of Police (CP), the fifth-highest rank in National Police Service.

Former superstars in Marius Tum (400m), Tabitha Ranga (1500m), William Yampoyi (800m) and Karisa Mwaringa (100m) hold the rank of Commissioner of Police.

Tum is currently an officer in charge of Disaster Management at Nyayo House while Yampoyi and Ranga are attached to Presidential Escort Unit. Mwaringa works at the traffic police headquarters.

On the immediate junior position is David Ng’etich, the former 5000m sensation, who holds the rank of Assistant Suprintendant of Police (SSP) in charge of Administration Police attached to the sports department at Jogoo House and Catherine Cherop (shot putt and long jump), who leads the Kenya Police Sports department.

Former National Police Service athletics head coach Nicholas Kilisio, a one-time aide de camp to Deputy President William Ruto, trails in command as Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) alongside two-time world marathon champion Abel Kirui.

Kilisio is attached to Presidential Escort while Kirui is an Administration Police officer based in Mombasa. Kirui said Kenya Police is the best employer especially for athletes.

He attributed his achievements to the National Police Service. “Working with police is a motivation as it is the only employer who recognizes athletes,” said Kirui. He urged budding athletes to aspire to join police service, saying the system works perfectly.

“Promotion is almost guaranteed if you do your work well. For us athletes, you only need to continue flying the country’s flag high across the world and you are good,” he added.

“Just like a good father buys a prize for the child who has performed well in class, the promotion is a way of appreciating for what we do for the country—raising the national flag in foreign countries,” added the former Chicago marathon winner.

Kirui was promoted from the rank of Police Constable to Sergeant after winning gold at the 2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin, Germany.

In 2011, he defended his title and landed on a promotion to Inspector of Police (IP). His passion and love for the disciplined forces do not go unnoticed as he salutes his bosses after winning big city marathons.

That salute is common among Kenya’s athletics guns, especially those holding the rank of Chief Inspector. They include 2010 Africa 3000 steeplechase champion Richard Mateelong, Rere Sang, world 800m record holder David Rudisha, 2013 world 3000m steeplechase champion  Milcah Chemos, four-time world 3000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi, Olympic 10,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot and three-time world 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop.

Mateelong is now an Officer Commanding Police Station (OCS) at Kirengero Police station in Subukia, Nakuru County.

The 2008 Olympics Games bronze medallists belongs to the country’s golden generation of 3,000m steeplechase trio alongside showman Kemboi and Brimin Kipruto with whom they fiercely guarded steeplechase event as Kenya’s dynasty.

Rudisha, a traffic police officer in Eldoret, also holds the Africa 600m record of 1:13.10 set inside Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, England, in 2016.

He basks in glory of two Olympic titles, two world crowns and a Commonwealth Games silver medal he won in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2014.

Cheruiyot is attached to Directorate of Criminal Investigations. She won her first Olympic Games gold medal title in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro before graduating to marathon. Cheruiyot had dominated both track and cross country championships since she stormed onto the limelight at a tender age of 17 years.

She won her first medal at the 1999 World Youth Championships, winning bronze before scooping world cross country junior medal the following year. She added another bronze at the 2002 World Junior Championships.

Cheruiyot, who is better known as Pocket Rocket, won London Marathon in 2018 before finishing behind Mary Keitany in 2019 as well as 2018 New York City marathon.

At the world championships, she won four gold medals in 10,000m and 5,000m after playing second fiddle at the Olympics—winning bronze in 2012 (10,000m), silver in both 5,000m and 10,000m at 2012 and silver in 10,000m in 2016. She finally won the elusive gold in 5,000m at the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil and decided to shift to marathon and road running.

With two Olympic titles, four world crowns and three worlds silvers and similar number of bronze to his name, makes Kemboi the world’s steeplechaser of all time.

Popularly called ‘Baba Yao’ due to his dominance in 3,000m steeplechase, Kemboi is an all-time runner.

Kemboi, a former IAAF Athlete Representative, also has Commonwealth Games title in 2006 followed by silver in 2002 and 2010 with a bronze at the 2014 Championships. Kemboi is attached to Presidential Escort. His wins at the IAAF World Athletics Championships, Olympic Games and brilliant shows at the Commonwealth Games has seen him enter the pantheon of 3,000m steeplechase superstars.

Reigning world 800m record holder Rudisha ensured the continuity of his father Daniel Rudisha legacy in the two-lap race. Rudisha better known as King David, has been nursing nagging injuries late. However, he is perhaps one of the best 800m runner the world has ever seen having won double Olympics Games titles in London 2012 and Rio 2016 respectively.

He also won two world championships title in 2015 and 2011 as well as world junior title in 2006.

In 2014, he won his maiden Commonwealth Games title with double Africa titles in 2010 and 2008. Chemos, the Athlete Representative at the Athletics Kenya, is another queen of water and barriers.

Chemos, who holds the position of Chief Inspector, is based at Kiganjo as an instructor. She won the 2013 titles in 3,000m steeplechase after finishing second in both 2009 and 2011.

She said being a police officer and working with a respectable service in the country is a blessing for her.

“I thank the Kenya Police for their good working environment. I found myself running while at the service. If I had not been employed by the police, I would not be running by now. When I was employed, I never knew that I will climb the ranks but now I enjoy the service,” said Chemos.

She also won bronze at the 2012 Olympic Games then followed that up with gold in 2010 gold at the Commonwealth Games before scooping silver in 2014.

“I must thank the Inspector of Police for giving athletes humble time to train without any disturbance. I would like the service to give us an understanding sports chairman and specifically a man who is athletics oriented to replace the outgoing Joseph Kiget,” added Chemos.

Asbel is attached to Police headquarters in-charge of logistics. He won three titles at the world championships in 1,500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015 and added Olympic Games title in 2008. He won the 2010 Africa 1,500m title after finishing second two years earlier  and won the world junior Cross country title.

Two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat and 2017 world 1500m Elijah Manangoi are just a rank below them. They hold the rank of Inspector of Police (IP). Kiplagat is attached to a police station in Migori County while Manangoi works at the Presidential Escort Unit.

Former Commonwealth Games javelin champion Julius Yego and police head coach Isaac Kirwa hold the rank of Sergeant. Yego works at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations at DCI headquarters while Kirwa is based at Nyanza Police headquarters.

Kirwa, who is also the coach, advised athletes to remain on course in order to enjoy the fruits of Police Service. “This profession appreciates athletes and that is why they are promoted whenever they do well,” said Kirwa. Former world 3,000m steeplechase champion Ivy Kiyeng is another top athlete based at Kiganjo as a sergeant.

Former 400m runner Ezra Sambu is an inspector of police manning a police station in Mutito Andei while Japheth Okumba, the 800m runner is based in Nakuru. 

Others include Inspector Esther Maina, a 10,000m runner, attached to DCI, Catherine Kagwiria, an Inspector in Kirinyaga, Former world 10,000m silver medallist Isabella Ochichi, a Senior Surgent at Kenya Airports Police Unit and former world 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei, an inspector in Eastern. Discuss thrower Joel Kirui is the SSP while former 800m world champion Alfred Kirwa Yego is a police constable.