Celebrating the British billionaire, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the unsung hero who funded Eliud Kipchoge’s Marathon achievement
By Adesina Idris
London, Oct. 15, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Today, the world celebrates an extra-ordinary achievement of Kenyan distance runner- Eliud Kipchoge who has become the first human in history to run a marathon under two hours mark after successfully completing the Ineos 1:59 challenge with a stunning run in Vienna.
The greatest marathon runner of all time Eliud achieved a jaw-dropping time of 1:59:40.2 to secure his moon-landing moment. With the achievement, Kipchoge has reached where no human has ever gone before, a rare feat already compared to the first moon landings
The 34-year-old, winner of eight major marathons and three Olympic medals, as well as a world record holder attempted the feat in 2017 and failed by an agonising 26 seconds. Since then, everything possible has been done to achieve the objective which became a reality on October 12, 2019
But Eliud Kipchoge’s accomplishment could not have been possible without the huge financial support from Ineos, the petrochemicals company owned by Britain’s richest man, Sir Jim Ratcliffe who funded the race estimated to be in the region of millions of pounds including donating his £20million private jet to fly the man of the moment, Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya to Vienna
Aside the fund, his private jet and personal encouragement and belief, Sir Ratcliffe raised a dedicated team tagged “Team INEOS” to prosecute the marathon project. The team’s Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said of their duty and role in Eliud’s accomplishment
“This project kicked off earlier this year, we took a good look at it and broke it down. A lot of high performance principles can apply to all sports and we helped with a little background support to aid Eliud’s brilliant team around him of Valentijn [Trouw, Eliud’s manager] and Patrick [Sang, Eliud’s coach]
“The great thing about INEOS’ role is we brought people together including from the INEOS sailing and cycling teams. INEOS put it all together for this single project and from an INEOS sport perspective it has been fantastic.”
So, who is this man, an uncommon philanthropist who decided to take down one of the last great barriers of human athleticism, and in Kipchoge, he found the perfect partner—a runner better positioned to break the 2-hour mark.
Sir Jim Arthur Ratcliffe is a British billionaire, chemical engineer turned financier and industrialist. Ratcliffe is the chairman and chief executive officer of the Ineos chemicals group, which he founded in 1998 and of which he still owns two-thirds, and which has been estimated to have a turnover of $80 billion
Born in 1952, Sir Jim Ratcliffe reportedly grew up in a council house in Greater Manchester, attending grammar school before studying chemical engineering at the University of Birmingham.
After graduating, he joined Esso before gaining business experience at a US private equity group.
But his big break came in 1998 when he founded Ineos – a petrochemical company now with a turnover of £48bn and sites across 26 countries
His own personal fortune – an estimated £21bn – led him to reach the number one spot of the 2018 UK Sunday Times rich list
In recent years Sir Jim – knighted for his services to business – has continued to hit the headlines, largely for unconventional business moves.
Why would a British man back Kipchoge, a black African man from Kenya
Why? Because Ratcliffe and Kipchoge both happened to be obsessed with the idea at roughly the same time says Fran Millar, the CEO of Ineos Sports “There’s no clear strategic direction that’s led to the choices that have been made. Jim’s a very passionate guy…He’s at a stage in his life where I think he’s making decisions based on what’s a fun, interesting, cool thing to do”
Asked why he was making such investments, Ratcliffe told reporters at the launch of Kipchoge’s bid: “You don’t want to get too deep about it really. We make six or seven billion dollars a year in profit so what’s wrong with investing a bit of that in sport? On some good challenges, good people, try to inspire people? It’s good fun.”
The 66-year-old British billionaire is a keen sportsman himself who was once reported to be interested in buying Chelsea Football Club.But his advances are understood to have been rejected by the Russian oligarch.
Millar also revealed more into the thinking of the business mogu particularly the extent he’s willing to go when he believes in any course
“Ratcliffe is fond of sailing, so he bought the British America’s Cup team. He and his sons are keen cyclists, so he took over and rebranded six-time Tour de France champion Team Sky. He also loves soccer and the South of France, so he picked up OGC Nice. So the decision to back Kipchoge’s tilt at a 1-hour-59-minute marathon came from the same golden armchair instinct”
Though, Eliud Kipchoge has proved that “No Human Is Limited” He is the history maker, the first human in history to run a sub-two-hour marathon, the 42.195KM distance in a remarkable time of 1:59:40:2 He is the man of the moment. But in truth, the real HERO of this remarkable achievement is Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the man with limitless cash who bankrolled the race, the man who helped Eliud Kipchoge achieved his dream.
Materials from ineos.com, The wall Street Journal, BBC