How Nyandika Maiyoro Made the Most Epic Comeback in Kenyan Athletics

  • During the 1953 Ocean Games in Madagascar, a Kenyan athlete made history by starting his race a minute after the rest of the pack, and remarkably beating everyone.

    Nyandika Maiyoro – one of Kenya’s first Olympians, made the headlines after he pulled off what remains a most memorable race in history.

    Having dropped out from Nyakegogi Primary School, Kisii County to concentrate on his athletics career, Nyandika could only communicate in Swahili or Kisii.

    This meant he needed a handler at all international athletics events to act as his translator.

    As this was during the colonial era, a white administrator was assigned to him during the games in Madagascar.

    A few minutes before the start of the 3000m race which Nyandika was supposed to be involved in, his translator had to make a quick run to answer the call of nature.

    Once he made his way back to the stadium, he noticed that the race was underway but Nyandika was nowhere to be seen.

    In a state of panic, he started calling out the athletes name. He soon found him just off the tracks next to the bleachers.

    "Nyandika, mbona haukimbii? Hizi ndizo mbio zako! (Nyandika, why are you not racing? You are supposed to be participating in this race)," he asked.

    On realizing the mistake, the Kenyan runner made his way to the starting line and kicked off his race.

    By this time, his opponents were over 100 metres ahead, having started the race almost a minute earlier.

    Unbelievably, Nyandika not only caught up with the pack, but won the entire race as well, making him a legend in Kenyan athletics.

    Nyandika also holds the record of the first Kenyan to compete in an Olympic final when he qualified for the 5,000m final in Melbourne, Australia in 1956, where he was also team captain.