Kenyan-American and former world champion Bernard Lagat has been named University of Arizona’s cross country team head coach.
This comes months after the five-time Olympian was named among three interim tacticians entrusted to sharpen the team after head coach James Li retired this past campaign.
Lagat brings along vast experience to the side after the 46-year-old served as an interim coach in the track and field category for the team earlier in 2021.
Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Fred Harvey described Lagat as one of the world’s greatest runners, hence the best candidate for the job.
“It is an incredible honour to have one of the world’s all-time great runners lead our storied distance program here at Arizona,” said Harvey.
“Bernard is a true legend in the world of distance running and his knowledge and personality will draw the best runners in the world to the University of Arizona. Historically, we have one of the best distance programs in America, and I believe Bernard will take us to that level.” He added.
Vice President and Director of Athletics Dave Heeke hailed Lagat’s exemplary leadership qualities that have promoted athletics both as a student and member of the coaching staff at Arizona University.
“Bernard’s leadership in his first year as a member of our coaching staff was instrumental in our student-athletes’ success in competition, the classroom, and the community. As a decorated former student-athlete, Bernard has done an excellent job of guiding our student-athletes as part of our Wildcat Way experience. He will continue to lead our student-athletes to success while also supporting head coach Fred Harvey and Arizona Track and Field,” he said.
Lagat is among elite athletes with Kenyan roots that are having fine runs in the sport globally.
Born in Kapsabet, Nandi County, Lagat had a competitive career representing Kenya before his change of domicile to the US.
He is the American record holder in the 15000 metres and mile run indoors, as well as the 1500 metres, 3000 metres, and 5000 metres outdoors.
Lagat is still the Kenyan record holder for 1500 metres outdoors. He is the second fastest 1500m runner of all time, behind Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj.
He competed in the 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic games. At the age of 41, he finished 5th in the finals of the 5000 metres at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil.