Little Known kenyans Who Made History at The Olympics

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    Kenya's Olympic team, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan
  • The 2020 Olympic games kicked off on Friday, July 23 in Tokyo, Japan with 40 Kenyan athletes representing the country.

    Kenyans are great contestants when it comes to athletics, especially in long-distance running competitions. This fact is known by many people all over the world, and it is not surprising for a Kenyan in a foreign country to get the question… “Oh! You are from Kenya? Do you run?”. 

    Unfortunately not every Kenyan can run, but we can all stand behind our Kenyan athletes who have broken world records over and over again – they that have their place in the Olympic history books, letting Kenya's national anthem ring all over the world.

    From 1956 to 2016, Kenya has won 103 medals at the Olympic Games, all of them in boxing and track and field events – with 42 medals from 2008, 2012 and 2016 outings. Kenyans have participated in every Olympics except for the boycotted 1976 and 1980 Games.

     From right, retired athlete Wilson Chumo, deceased Samuel Wanjiru and Naftali Temu who are kenyan athletes.
    From right, retired athlete Wilson Chumo, deceased Samuel Wanjiru and Naftali Temu are Kenyan athletes.

    October 13, 1968, inside Olympic Stadium in Mexico City, remains a memorable day for Kenya because Nabiba Naftali Temu became Kenya’s first gold medalist when he won the 10,000m race at the 1968 summer Olympics. 

    His feat inspired teammates Kipchoge Keino, Amos Biwott, Ben Kogo and the 4x400m relay team of Daniel Rudisha, Hezekiel Nyamau, Naftali Bon and Charles Asati were to win gold and three silver medals.

    It not only turned out as a breakthrough in middle and long-distance running, but it added to the country's sporting history.

    Hezekiah Kipchoge Keino made history during the Mexico Summer Olympics in 1968 as he suffered from gallstones, something that did not stop him from participating and finishing 6 distance races in 8 days.

    With only three laps remaining, he collapsed and fell outside the track, disqualifying himself in the process but being a fighter, he stood up and finished the race. He managed to win a silver medal with only a 0.2-second margin shy from a gold medal. 

    Another iconic star in Kenya’s athletic history is the deceased Samuel Kamau Wanjiru.

    He was the first Kenyan to win a marathon gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon with a record time of 2:06:32. He, unfortunately, died at the young age of 24 on 15 May 2011, due to injuries sustained after a fall from a balcony at his home in Nyahururu.

    During the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Wilson Kiprugut Chumo, struck Kenya’s first ever Olympic medal when he won an 800m bronze medal.

    At the 1968 Olympics, Kenya reaffirmed its superiority in relays when the quartet of Hezekiah Nyamao, Daniel Rudisha, Charles Asati and Naftali Bon bagged 4x400m silver in Mexico City –as the foursome finished second in 2:59.6 behind hosts USA.

    Kenya won 11 medals including three gold by Amos Biwott in the steeplechase, Naftali Temu in the 10,000m, Amos Biwott in 3,000m steeplechase and Kipchoge Keino in the 1,500m at the 1968 Olympics.

    Following the feat, the triumphant team set the ball rolling for the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland.

    Philip Waruinge made history in 1968 after becoming the first Kenyan who was not a runner to win an Olympic medal. He won a bronze medal in the men's featherweight boxing event and followed it up with a silver medal at the same event in 1972.

    Kenya has also produced famous female athletes who have made the competitions exciting.

    They include the likes of Sabina Chebichii who became the first Kenyan woman Olympics medalist after winning a bronze medal at the commonwealth games in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1974. Chebichii, better known as the ‘bet-coat’ in athletic circles, did not betray her Kalenjin surname Chebichii, which means ‘a tough one’ as she won the 800m race.

    Pamela Jelimo was Kenyan's first woman to win an Olympic Gold medal in her 800m race in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

     Ruth Waithera became the first Kenyan woman to reach the Olympics games in the 400m in 1984. While Mary Wagaki was 69th in the marathon.

     It took another 12 years before Pauline Konga became the first Kenyan woman to win a silver medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

    From Right, Pauline Gitonga and Sabina Chebichii who are famous Kenyan athletes
    From Right, Pauline Gitonga and Sabina Chebichii who are famous Kenyan athletes
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