The name Enock Koech may not sound like a household name in athletics, yet upon revisiting the past editions of the world cross country championships you will be fascinated with his short and outstanding athletics career.
On his first athletic trip abroad, the Lelmokwo boys alumni didn't disappoint.
In 2001 during the world cross country championship in Ostend Belgium Koech won the gold medal in a 4km short course that anchored the Kenya team to take the individual and the team victory.
As curtains open, the 4km short course is about to start. Athletes in their national colors are seen jogging and dashing near the start line. It's cold. Very cold especially to African athletes experiencing winter for the first time, an absolute warmup will be essential The course is disconcerting too; so muddy that it jeopardizes the plan to run fast.
The cameraman points his attention to Enock Koech and Benjamin Limo who seem to be finalizing their plans. Perhaps he is sure of something; the winner will be between one of them. Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia is somewhere in the crowd, but the commentator is quite sure this is another title for Kenya just like the previous years
As the race start, Kenenisa Bekele led in the first kilometer. Meanwhile, Kenyans seem obstinate behind the Ethiopian superstar, then comes Enock Koech who boggles everyone by shooting ahead with an electrifying pace leaving everyone gasping for air in the muddy course.
He never relents, but towards the finishing line, Bekele unleashed his trademark; the devastating finishing kick. so powerful was the kick that he almost caught up with Koech who was now approaching the finishing line. Nonetheless, the die had been cast, Koech won the Gold medal whereas Bekele won the Silver medal. Former 5000m world champion Benjamin Limo of Kenya closed the podium with a bronze. Sammy Kipketer, Cyrus Kataron, Albert Chepkirui, and John Kibowen followed in that order.
Enock Koech would become the only athlete to have beaten Kenenisa Bekele in the history of the 4km short course that was discontinued in 2006. Isaack Songok came close when he finished just a second behind Bekele in Fukuoka, Japan, during the last edition in 2006.
In track, Koech's performance was equally impressive. His specialty was 1500m, he stands tall with a personal best of 3:31.28. His prowess started back while in high school where he was crowned the national champion in the secondary school Athletics championship. Enock Koech was just a teenage boy when his two neighbors in Lessos, Nandi, won medals in the 1996 summer Olympics held in Atlanta in the US. Joseph Keter won the Gold medal in the 3000m steeplechase while Paul Bitok won the Silver medal in 5000m. The feat must have emboldened Koech to take athletics seriously.
Although his career did not last long, he was given onus by his management to assist in coaching the Global sports athletes in Kapatagat. Athletes describe him as a diligent and friendly Coach. The 4km champion mentored his siblings, Bethwell Birgen and Benard Koech to take on the mantle, the former is a 1500m specialist while the latter is a marathoner. Both have represented Kenya in the national assignment.