Friday, May 10, 2013

Kemboi Adds to Record-Setting Career

Upstate's Gilbert Kemboi has won 13 career A-Sun races.
Many believe the number 13 to be an unlucky, but for USC Upstate’s Gilbert Kemboi the inauspicious digit signifies an illustrious career, which started back in 2009 when he left Eldoret, Kenya and arrived in Spartanburg, S.C.

Since arriving in Spartanburg from  Kapngetuny High School in Eldoret, Kemboi has adjusted to a different lifestyle, education system and competitive sports to become a dominant force in the Atlantic Sun Conference as well as nationally.

Kemboi has stood atop the platform on 13 instances ranging from his three individual cross country title, seven indoor events victories and three outdoor gold medals including winning Friday’s 10,000m by 62 seconds.

The staggering amount of titles accumulated by Kemboi even shocks himself.

“When I go and sit down and think about my accomplishments I am always impressed because I surprise myself at the each meet since I wasn’t always sure what I was going to do when I was in Kenya.”

The award podium at Atlantic Sun Championship meets has become a second home for Kemboi during his four-year career as he also owns three second-place finishes in his 16 career conference races.

“Sometimes I amazed that I have accomplished all of these things at USC Upstate. When I look at what I have achieved it makes me be appreciative of the tough times I had in Kenya and since I have been here.”

With a wide range of success at different distances, Kemboi still favors the longer distances.

“I enjoy cross country above everything, but particularly I like long-distance running because when you look at the 10,000m I have had great success with it and it forces you to run a different kind of race compared to the mile or 3,000m.”

Even with the change in culture, Kemboi has succeeded on the Spartanburg campus with a 3.545 cumulative grade point average as a sociology major. The combination of success on the track and in the classroom has earned Kemboi five A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors – an award that begun prior to his junior season. He is the only A-Sun track & field or cross country male student-athlete to win the award in its two-year existence.

Not only does Kemboi collect A-Sun gold medals on a regular basis but he does so in record-setting fashion as he has set five conference marks at the track & field championships, while also running three of the fastest times at the A-Sun cross country meet. But even the best student-athletes know part of their success comes from their coaching staff.

“I have been consistent throughout my career and my improvements have been impressive in my career.

What has helped me is that my coaches are the best that I have ever had. They have been close to me and they know what I am and I really appreciate their effort with me.”

With only one race remaining in his Atlantic Sun career – Saturday’s 5,000m run – Kemboi can add one more number to his captivating career.

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