People Daily

Track legend reflects on his exploits in solitude

The dusty road off the busy Kericho-Sotik road leads us to the home of Wilson Kiprugut Chumo, the athletics legend of all time.

On arrival, he gives us a hearty welcome leading to a shed-resting place outside his house where we talked sports besides current affairs as we enjoyed a cup of tea.

The village is Kipchebor, which is located in the outskirts of Kericho town. Not much is known about the village yet it is home to the first-ever athlete to bring a medal to Kenya in sports.

Kiprugut is the man who won the bronze medal in 800m race at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan in 1964 becoming the first-ever Kenyan athlete to win an Olympic medal.

He is one of the unsung heroes because both the national and county government of Kericho have not done much as far as recognition, honour and feting are concern. It is no doubt Kiprugut is one of the greatest athletes that Kenya has ever produced but compared to his many achievements, he has received very little from the country he has diligently served during his time on the tracks.

“I appeal to the national government to give me a token of appreciation for having done one of the greatest things to this country. It could be anything that will enable me to get income monthly so that I enjoy my retirement.

They can even buy me a plot and construct houses or business premises to let and I will appreciate,” the athletics legend says. Kiprugut adds that he is not doing very well on matters economics, thus the need for assistance from both the national and county government of Kericho in a bid to make a difference in his life even as he is aging.

He calls for recognition, honouring and feting of sports legends. “During our time as athletes, we were not running for monetary gains but for pure love of the motherland.

That is why we did not acquire lots of wealth but unlike today where money motivates sportsmen and women to work hard on the playing grounds,” Kiprugut adds.

However, Kericho governor Paul Chepkwony announced about three years ago that the country would name the Kericho Green Stadium after the sport legend-Kiprugut but to date that has not been done.

It is not clear whether the pledge is still on course. He says he should not be forgotten like that since he did a lot for the country for flying high the Kenyan flag for the first time in athletics international circles and made a name for the country. “Since my childhood athletics was my first choice of all the things I loved,” he said.

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