Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo
Chelimo in 2016
Personal information
Nationality United States
Born (1990-10-27) October 27, 1990 (age 33)
Iten, Kenya
Alma materUniversity of North Carolina at Greensboro
Height174 cm (5 ft 9 in)[1]
Weight57 kg (126 lb)
Event1500–10,000 m
ClubUnited States Army
Achievements and titles
Olympic finals
  • 2016
  • 5000 m,  Silver
  • 2020
  • 5000 m,  Bronze
World finals
  • 2017
  • 5000 m,  Bronze
  • 2019
  • 5000 m, 7th
Personal bests
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing  United States
Olympic Games
Silver medal – second place 2016 Rio de Janeiro 5000 m
Bronze medal – third place 2020 Tokyo 5000 m
World Championships
Bronze medal – third place 2017 London 5000 m
Representing Americas
Continental Cup
Gold medal – first place 2018 Ostrava 3000 m
Chelimo finishing runner-up in the men's 5,000 m at the 2016 Olympic Games

Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo (born October 27, 1990) is a Kenyan born American track and field athlete. He is the 2016 Olympic silver medalist and the 2020 Olympic bronze medalist in the 5000 meters and is known for his success at the highest level of athletics and controversial racing tactics.


Born and brought up in Kenya, Chelimo initially went to the US in 2010 to run for Shorter College where he won the 3000 meters and was part of their winning distance medley relay team as Shorter won the 2011 NAIA National Indoor Championship. Later that year, Shorter won the NAIA Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championship as Chelimo won the 5000 meters and 10000 meters at the championships. He transferred to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, taking 2nd place in the 2012 NCAA Championships 5000 meters and repeated the place in 2013.[2]

Chelimo found his path to US citizenship by joining the United States Army through the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program as a water treatment specialist, then entering their World Class Athletic Program in 2014.[3]

2016 Olympics 5000m Silver

He represented the United States in the 3000 meters at the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships held in Portland, Oregon. He qualified to the World Championships by taking second place at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships on the same track a week earlier, setting a personal record of 7:39.00.[4]

Later in 2016, he finished third in the 5000 meters at the Olympic Trials. Running aggressively, Chelimo was the first to cover an early breakaway, which was eventually swallowed by another breakaway by previous trials winner Galen Rupp. Again, Chelimo led the last lap charge to run down Rupp, and after catching him, Chelimo held the lead onto the final straightaway. Chelimo was eventually run down by the sprint finish of 41-year-old Kenyan American Bernard Lagat, followed closely by Hassan Mead. But Chelimo was able to hold his position to the finish, beating Eric Jenkins to the line by 0.06 of a second and qualifying for the 2016 Summer Olympics.[1]

Chelimo ran a personal best 13:19.54 in the prelim of the 5000 metres at the 2016 Summer Olympics. During the final he stayed near the lead the entire race, withstanding every attack three Ethiopian teammates were trying to throw against eventual winner Mo Farah. When Farah launched his final kick to win the race, Chelimo was the last to follow Farah, looking, for a few moments at the head of the final stretch, like he would be the only one able to outsprint Farah to the line. Farah pulled away and Chelimo followed him across the finish line. On the scoreboard, he was initially announced as the silver medal winner. Then his name was removed from the results, along with Canadian Mohammed Ahmed and Ethiopian Muktar Edris. Chelimo had exchanged elbows with both of them during the final turn. Video showed Chelimo stepping inside of the track. Hagos Gebrhiwet was elevated to second place, American Bernard Lagat was elevated to third. The United States appealed and the medal was reinstated, with Edris, the initiator of the contact remaining disqualified.[5] He set a new personal best of 13:03.90 in the race. Chelimo's medal was the first for the US in the event since Bob Schul and Bill Dellinger in the 1964 Summer Olympics, held in Tokyo.[6]

2017 World Championships

Now an American star, he won the National Championships by seven seconds in record time. At the World Championships, it was a set of familiar faces on the last lap. This time though, Edris and his teammate Yomif Kejelcha got the jump on Farah and Chelimo going in to the final lap and Chelimo was running virtually even with Farah. In their pursuit of eventual winner Edris, both had to weave around Kejelcha then sprint for the line. In his last championship track race, Farah again beat Chelimo across the line, but this time it was much closer, barely a half meter separating the two, Chelimo getting bronze.

2018 USA Championships and London Diamond League

Chelimo participated in the 3000m of the 2018 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He won the race with a time of 7:57.88, thereby qualifying for the 2018 World Championships.[7] In the heats of the World Indoor Championships, he was one of many victims of a spate of disqualifications at that meet. After appeal, he did not get to run in the final.[8] In June, Chelimo won his second outdoor U.S. title in the 5000m at the 2018 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships,[9] and, later that summer, won the London Diamond League also at the 5000m distance.[10]

2021 Tokyo Olympics 5000 m Bronze

Chelimo won his third U.S. outdoor title in the 5000m in a dramatic three-man sprint finish where he controversially drifted to lane four to prevent his competitors from overtaking him.[11] In another notable finish, Chelimo narrowly out-leaned Nicholas Kimeli for the bronze medal in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic 5000m. Chelimo dedicated the performance to his brother, who suddenly passed away earlier in the year.[12]

2023 World Championships

After his success in 2021 and relatively poor season in 2022, where he finished only 11th in the U.S. Championships 5000m, Chelimo once again qualified for the World Championships with his second place finish in the U.S. Championships. He also competed in the 10,000m and placed fifth. At the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Chelimo placed 15th in the 5000m.

2024 Olympic Cycle

Chelimo competed in his first marathon at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in hopes of qualifying for his third Olympics. He dropped out mid-way through the race.[13] In June, Chelimo took his second attempt at qualifying for the Olympics, this time in the 10,000m. He placed tenth.[14] In his third and final attempt at Olympic qualification, Chelimo placed twelfth in his heat of the 5,000m and failed to advance to the final.

Major competitions

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  United States
2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Eugene, Oregon 3rd 5000 m 13:35.92
Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2nd 5000 m 13:03.90
2017 World Championships London, United Kingdom 3rd 5000 m 13:33.30
2019 World Championships Doha, Qatar 7th 5000 m 13:04.60
2021 U.S. Olympic Trials Eugene, Oregon 1st 5000 m 13:26.82
Olympic Games Tokyo, Japan 3rd 5000 m 12:59.05
2023 World Championships Budapest, Hungary 15th 5000 m 13:30.88


  1. ^ a b "Athlete Profile - Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo". Archived from the original on August 26, 2016. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  2. ^ "UNCG Men's Cross Country BIO - Paul Chelimo". UNCG Athletics. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  3. ^ Wooten, Eddie (May 1, 2014). "Paul Chelimo to enter U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program". Greensboro News & Record. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  4. ^ "2016 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships – Day 1 Results". March 11, 2016. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  5. ^ "U.S. 5000m Silver Medalist Disqualified, Then Reinstated". NBC New York. August 20, 2016. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  6. ^ Kehaug, Andrew (August 20, 2016). "Mo Farah Lands a Double-Double, Winning Gold in 5,000". The New York Times. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  7. ^ "Results". Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  8. ^ "Are The British Officials Playing Favorites At IAAF World Championships?". Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  9. ^ "USATF Men's 5000 — Chelimo Continues American Dominance". Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  10. ^ "Paul Chelimo Uses Tokyo Drift to Win Olympic Trials 5,000m Title". Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  11. ^ "USATF Men's 5000 — Chelimo Continues American Dominance". Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  12. ^ "Team USA's Paul Chelimo Dives Across Finish Line for Bronze in Men's 5,000 Meters". Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  13. ^ "Chelimo Talks About His Experience at the US Olympic Marathon Trials". February 11, 2024. Retrieved May 8, 2024.
  14. ^ "2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field". USATF. Retrieved June 21, 2024.