International cooperation


When Romain Fiegen realised his son David had the talent become a top-level performer, he decided it was necessary to look beyond their tiny country’s borders.

“We knew David would benefit more from being in a good training group in his own environment than if he went abroad permanently,” he says, “so we had the idea of bringing in some good runners to help him. And the place where we knew we could find the biggest concentration of top 800m runners was Kenya.”

So in 2000, the elder Fiegen, now a coach and Athletes’ Representative, established Project KIP with the aim of helping his son reach his potential. KIP stands for Kenya International Cooperation and the word ‘kip’ means “son” in Nandi, the language spoken by many top Kenyan athletes.

In 2003, the project picked up support from the Luxembourg Athletics Federation the National Olympic Committee, and the national Sports Ministry.

Fiegen now works closely with a former Kenyan national coach to identify suitable athletes for the programme, whom he meets when David makes training trips to the country. Each year several young talented Kenyans are offered the opportunity to train at the Luxembourg National Sports Institute and participate in international competitions in Europe.

Expenses are met with the help of David’s Olympic contract. The Kenyans are also put in contact with meeting organisers and Fiegen’s manager colleagues.

“We don’t copy the Kenyan system, but we’ve taken elements and adapted them to our environment. For example, we do more hill work than we would have, which builds strength and speed.”

“Group training is an important factor for success in the middle distances and the only way for Europeans to reach the level of Africans is to train with them. Without what he gained from the group in terms of training quality, experience and confidence, David would probably not have achieved his silver medal at the 2006 European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg.”

Fiegen is also convinced that the benefits of Project KIP have been mutual. “We learn from them, and they also learn from us – all the young Kenyan athletes who have trained with David have also improved.”

Most of the Project KIP athletes return to Kenya, where the opportunity offered by the project is now more generally known and demand for places is strong. However, one athlete, David Karonei, who runs as pacemaker on the European circuit, has remained in Luxembourg full time.

“We know the model and reputation are good because in 2009, Wilfred Bungei, Beijing 800m gold medallist, will be among those joining Project KIP.”

Fact File
Programme: Project KIP
Organiser: Romain Fiegen
Start Date: 2000
Target Group: Young middle distance runners
Fédération Luxembourgeoise d’Athlétisme(Luxembourg Athletics Federation),
National Olympic Committee, Luxembourg Sports Ministry,
More Information:        Romain Fiegen

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