Former Miner track and field star Emmanuel Korir is now a gold medalist for Kenya as he claimed first place in the men's 800m final at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday.

Among the various Olympians with UTEP and El Paso ties, Korir was the first to earn a gold medal with a final time of 1:45:06 in the event. His time is now the sixth-fastest 800m race of all time.

“It’s amazing. I mean, I’m so happy and grateful, this is a big achievement,” Korir told Olympics.com. “I’ve been praying and hoping to maybe one day have a medal and today I have it and I’m so thankful.”

Korir is the third Miner—first since 1984—to win a gold medal in track and field at the Olympics. The other two gold medalists were Bob Beamon (1968, long jump) and Ria Stalman (1984, discus). He became the 16th former Miner that has received a medal at the games. The last former Miners to medal in the Olympics were Blessing Okagbare (long jump), Osayomi Olduamola (4x100m relay) and Halimat Ismaila (4x100m relay) at the 2008 Beijing games.

The Kenyan native won the indoor and outdoor NCAA championships in the 800m in 2017. He holds the UTEP record in the 400m (44:53).

“This is a great day for Emmanuel, El Paso, the UTEP track and field program and Kenya as a country,” said UTEP coach Paul Ereng, who coaches Korir and won gold in the 800m at the 1988 Games in Seoul, Korea. “Emmanuel is a very fast runner and the race was very slow. So, Emmanuel really had to run the last 400. In that kind of race, the fastest guy wins. Emmanuel had some challenges prior to the Olympics. He was in a car accident back in 2019 and then COVID kicked in in 2020, so he really didn’t have a lot of races from 2019 after the World Championships.”

“I will still continue running the 400 and 800m,” Korir said. “I want to achieve the 43 seconds in the 400m and maybe to do my best and maybe one day 1:40 in the 800m and maybe a world record.”

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