Veteran athlete Henry Wanyoike, arguably one of the best Paralympic athletes in the world, opened about his struggle with blindness both on track and off the track.
Talking to Citizen TV on June 23, 2012, the veteran athlete revealed that while many had associated him with visual impairment, he had not been born with the condition.
"I was not born blind. I lost my sight on May 1, 1985. I had a mild stroke towards the end of April, and after recovering from the stroke, I discovered that it had affected my optic nerve. I went to bed on April 30 a normal person and with good sight, but since then, I have never been able to see the world again," he stated.
From his childhood, Wanyoike stated he had always looked up to athletics legend, Kipchoge Keino, as his athletics hero and wanted to become like him when he grew up.
"Unless someone accepts himself or herself, they can never move ahead. After accepting yourself then overcoming the fear, then the entire community is always ready to support you," he stated.
His struggles did not end on the track, however, but also extended to it came to getting married.
He narrated that when he met his wife, Myla Wanyoike, he was training at the Nyayo National Stadium where he heard someone making a phone call. He approached her to help him dial his phone, a matter that she was hesitant to take on.
"He told me to help him make a call, and I thought he was just teasing me, so I declined. He tried to explain that he couldn't see. He actually told me that he couldn't see well," Myla told Citizen.
Myla's mother Nelius Mwangi was surprised when her daughter, then a single mother of two, introduced Wanyoike to her and told her that she was planning to get married to him.
"I asked myself so many questions, but as a Christian, I decided to just let her go and told her that if she were to leave, then it was upon her to find out how he would live with him," she revealed.
The couple, married in 2002, are blessed with four children; three boys and a girl, aged 24, 22, 16 and 8.
According to Paralympics.org, Wanyoike’s highly successful athletics career includes a 5,000m T11 gold at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games and 5,000m and 10,000m gold and world records at the 2002 World Championships.
"He won double gold at Athens 2004, setting 5,000m and 10,000m T11 world records that still stand today, and excelled on the roads too, winning half and full marathons around the world," Paralympics.org states.
Video Courtesy of Citizen TV
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