Jairus Kipchoge Birech is a Kenyan Steeplechase athlete who is ranked among the top twenty of all-time 3000m Steeplechase athletes.
He was a silver medalist at the African Junior Athletics Championships in 2011 and went on to place fourth at the 2011 All-Africa Games. He competes frequently on the IAAF Diamond League and had his first win on the circuit at the 2012 Birmingham Grand Prix, followed by two wins in 2014. He was ranked fifth fastest among steeplechase athletes in the world in 2012.
He began competing in the steeplechase as a teenager and dipped under nine minutes for the 3000m Steeplechase for the first time in 2010, recording 8:50.0 minutes in Nairobi. He made his breakthrough at international level in the 2011 season. He started with his first medal for Kenya at the 2011 African Junior Athletics Championships, where he was the silver medalist in a Kenyan 1–2 with Gilbert Kirui. His European debut resulted in a victory at the Miners Day Meeting in Velenje. He ran at his first Diamond League race soon after and his personal best time of 8:11.31 minutes,for fifth at the Meeting Areva in Paris, which got him ranked thirteenth in the world that year, marking him out as one of Kenya’s emerging talents. He won at the Barcelona Meeting and fifth at the DN Galan Diamond League. In his senior debut for Kenya, at the age of eighteen, he came fourth behind an Ethiopian trio in the steeplechase at the 2011 All-Africa Games.
He began his 2012 season in Australia and won at the Sydney Track Classic. Another win came at the Kawasaki Super Meet, where he broke the meeting record. At the Doha Diamond League Meet he set a personal best of 8:06.72 minutes, but this was only enough for fourth in a quick race. He found himself behind Kenyan opposition on several occasions that year, coming third at the Golden Gala, fourth at the Olympic trials, Meeting Areva and Memorial Van Damme, and fifth at Herculis. He performed better towards the end of the season, placing second to Paul Kipsiele Koech at the Athletissima meet, he won at the Birmingham Grand Prix, and set a meet record at the Hanzekovic Memorial. His best run of 8:03.43 minutes ranked him fifth in the world that year, behind four other Kenyans.
Birech beat Emmanuel Bett in a sprint finish at the Cross Internacional de Italica in January 2013. He won on the track in May, improving the meet record at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix in Tokyo. On the 2012 IAAF Diamond League circuit he appeared regularly in the steeplechase but only twice made the top three where he was third at the London Grand Prix and second at the Weltklasse Zurich. A fourth place at the Kenyan trials saw him miss a major tournament again and slipped down the end-of-year steeplechase rankings, coming ninth for 2013. He performed well in long-distance races, however, coming runner-up at the Cross Internacional de Venta de Banos and fourth in a 10k best of 29:00 minutes at the BO Classic.
He had a breakthrough in the 2014 Diamond League season running 3000m Steeplechase. After a fourth place finish in Doha, he had back-to-back wins in Rome and at the Bislett Games, running a personal best and world-lead of 8:02.37 minutes in the latter. Birech also won in th Diamond League at Liuisanne and Monaco making 2014 his Best Diamond League season.He was a narrow second to Koech at the IAAF World Challenge in Beijing, but came out top in national competition at the Kenya Athletics Championships.