İlham Tanui Özbilen

İlham Tanui Özbilen (born William Biwott Tanui on 5 March 1990 in Kocholwo, Kenya) is a middle distance runner now representing Turkey. The 1.77 m (5.8 ft) tall athlete weighs 60 kg (130 lb).[1] He is coached by Kenyan Patrick Sang.[2]

İlham Tanui Özbilen
İlham Tanui Özbilen.JPG
Personal information
Birth nameWilliam Biwott Tanui
Nationality Turkey
Born (1990-03-05) 5 March 1990 (age 30)
Kocholwo, Keiyo District, Kenya
Height1.77 m (5.8 ft)
Weight60 kg (132 lb)
Coached byPatrick Sang  Kenya
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)

Career in KenyaEdit

Özbilen, then competing as William Biwott Tanui, won the 1500 metres at the 2009 World Athletics Final in Thessaloniki, Greece.[3] He holds the current world junior record in the mile run with his clocking of 3:49.29 minutes, achieved in Oslo on 3 July 2009.[4] He was also part of the Kenyan team (with Gideon Gathimba, Geoffrey Kipkoech Rono and Augustine Kiprono Choge) that set a new world record of 14:36.23 in the rarely contested 4 x 1500 metres relay at the 2009 Memorial Van Damme Golden League meeting in Brussels, Belgium.[5]

Turkish citizenshipEdit

He switched allegiance to Turkey in June 2011, changing his name to İlham Tanui Özbilen. His surname was given him by his godfather and manager Önder Özbilen, who persuaded him in December 2010 in Kenya to immigrate to Turkey. He moved in February 2011 to Turkey, and was naturalized on 8 June 2011.[2][6] While he would normally have been ineligible to internationally represent his adoptive country until 8 June 2013,[6][7] it was announced in February 2012 that he had received permission from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to compete for Turkey starting with the 2012 World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.[1][7][8][9]

İlham Tanui Özbilen won the silver medal for Turkey in the 1500 m event at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships held in Istanbul, Turkey. Özbilen also represented Turkey at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, where he made the final of the 1500 meters, finishing 8th, with a time of 3:36.72. At the 2013 Mediterranean Games held in Mersin, Turkey, he became gold medalist in the 1500 m event.

At the 2013 Islamic Solidarity Games held in Palembang, Indonesia, he won a gold medal in the 1500 m event, a bronze medal in the 800 m event and a silver medal in the 4x400 m relay event with his teammates Batuhan Altıntaş, Halit Kılıç and Mehmet Güzel.[10]

In 2015, Özbilen competed in the 1500 metres at the European Indoor Championships. He came second place with a time 3:37.74, behind Jakub Holuša, the national record holder in the 1500 metres for the Czech Republic.

World recordsEdit

International competitionsEdit

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing   Kenya
2009 World Athletics Final Thessaloniki, Greece 1st 1500 m 3:35.04
Representing   Turkey
2012 World Indoor Championships Istanbul, Turkey 2nd 1500 m 3:45.35
2013 European Team Championships Super League Gateshead, United Kingdom 2nd 800 m 1:47.39
1st 1500 m 3:38.57
European Indoor Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 2nd 1500 m 3:37.22
Mediterranean Games Mersin, Turkey 1st 800 m 1:44.00 GR
1st 1500 m 3:35.09
Islamic Solidarity Games Palembang, Indonesia 3rd 800 m 1:45.65
1st 1500 m 3:39.69
2nd 4×400 m relay 3:06.43
2015 European Indoor Championships Prague, Czech Republic 2nd 1500 m 3:37.74
World Championships Beijing, China 22nd (sf) 1500 m 3:45.70
2016 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 35th (h) 1500 m 3:49.02
2018 Mediterranean Games Tarragona, Spain 11th 1500 m 3:48.27


  1. ^ a b "Tanui ve Kemboi için onay çıktı". Birgün (in Turkish). 2012-03-02. Retrieved 2012-03-10.
  2. ^ a b "Türkiye vatanım!". HT Spor (in Turkish). 2012-03-11. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
  3. ^ Ilham Tanui Özbilen at World Athletics
  4. ^ "World Junior Records - Men". IAAF. Retrieved 2011-07-23.
  5. ^ David Powell (2009-09-04). "Oldest World record goes down in Brussels as Kenya dominates 4x1500". IAAF. Retrieved 2011-07-23.
  6. ^ a b "IAAF News - Newsletter" (PDF). IAAF. 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2011-07-23.
  7. ^ a b Butler, Mark. "14th IAAF World Championships - Biographical Entry List" (pdf). IAAF. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
  8. ^ "Turkish athletes of Kenyan origin on board national team". Today's Zaman. 2012-02-29. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
  9. ^ "IAAF'tan iyi haber!" (in Turkish). Sporx. 2012-02-28. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
  10. ^ "Athletics-Results". The 3rd Islamic Solidarity Games. Retrieved 2013-10-03.