Relief for Kenyan-born American marathoner as he earns Olympics slot after late rule change

Relief for Kenyan-born American marathoner as he earns Olympics slot after late rule change

Joel Omotto 20:15 - 05.06.2024

The 37-year-old Kenyan-born runner has benefited from a rule change and will finally represent Team USA at the Olympics after missing the 2020 Tokyo Games by three seconds.

Kenyan-born marathoner Leonard Korir will be on the plane to Paris after earning a late Olympics qualification for Team USA following a rule change by World Athletics.

Korir has been waiting since early February to learn his fate after finishing third at the USA Olympics trials when he clocked 2:09:57 to complete the podium behind Conner Mantz (2:09:05) and Clayton Young (2:09:06) who managed first and second to take the two automatic tickets to Paris.

World Athletics added one university place and four ranking places to the Olympic marathon field on Tuesday with the four ranking places give to runners from Chile, Australia, South Africa and the United States.

Korir’s spot was hanging in the balance after the global athletics governing body added 11 university places on May 8 but that has now been updated with US runner CJ Albertson listed as qualified in 84th position.

According to, the USA Track and Field selection procedures means Albertson’s place will pass to Korir following his third place at the Olympic marathon trials. Korir’s coach Scott Simmons confirmed to the US athletics outlet that the 37-year-old is now qualified for the Paris Games.

It is a major boost for Korir, who missed a ticket to the delayed 2020 Olympics by just three seconds, and looked destined for another near-miss four years later.

Born in Kenya, Korir attended Tambach Teachers’ Training College in Iten and it was at the age of 20, that his athletics talent was identified before meeting veteran coach Bro Colm O'Connell.

O'Connell advised him to try for an athletics scholarship at an American university and supported his running efforts. He opted to study political science at Iona College, an institution he recognised as a fellow Kenyan, Richard Kiplagat, had attended there.

Korir competed in a number of events while in university and in 2012, he turned professional. He would join the US Army in 2015 and the following year, gained eligibility to represent the United States.

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