Ailing Olympic Legend's Distress Call Forces Govt Into Action

  • Olympic legends running a race in new mexico in 1974 File
  • Distress calls by ailing former Olympic champion Benjamin Wabura "Ben" Jipcho have galvanized the government into coming to his aid him before he suffers the fate of other forgotten legends.

    People Daily reports that Jipcho was moved to Nairobi early this week by his colleagues, led by National Heroes Council coordinator Rose Tata Muya and 1987 world marathon champion Douglas Wakiihuri and several other well-wishers, under the newly-launched theme 'Celebrating a Legend Forever'.

    Jipcho, 76, has been said to be battling prostate cancer as well the effects of old age, describing himself as a 'man living in his sunset days'.

    Olympic legend Ben Jipcho. He has been suffering from prostate cancer and was recently taken to hospital in Nairobi.
    Olympic legend Ben Jipcho. He has been suffering from prostate cancer and was recently taken to a hospital in Nairobi.

    The National Heroes Council is reported to have been instrumental in providing for his accommodation and medication.

    “It is by the grace of God that I am alive today. My condition worsened so fast that it resulted in urinary retention by blocking the normal urine flow,” he said in hospital.

    Jipcho was the winner of the 5000m race in the 1973 All-Africa Games. He also won the gold medal in the 5000m and 3000m steeplechase, and the bronze medal in the 1500m at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand.  He holds over 20 medals, 8 of them being gold.

    He is, however, much better known for an act of sacrifice that he committed in the high altitude race at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Sacrificing his chances for a medal, he pulled Keino through a 56-second first 400 meters, before being passed by his teammate with 800 meters to go and drifting back into the pack. By that point, Keino had established a lead of 20 meters or more, which Ryun's famous finishing speed could not erase.

    The Rose Muya-led organization was gazetted by the 'Kenya Heroes' Act of Parliament in 2014 and assented into law on April 29, 2014.

    This Act of Parliament, among other things, principally provides for the recognition of heroes, selection and honoring of these heroes and establishment of a National Heroes Council.

    The 13-member National Heroes Council is charged with the responsibility of formulating policy relating to national heroes and, according to Section 4 (c) of the Act, to “administer State assistance to national heroes where necessary.”

    Section 4 (f) provides for the council to “have custody and oversee the management of properties and institutions relating to heroes.”

    Jipcho is one of the first beneficiaries of this organization.