Saturday, June 27, 2009

Blind marathon man with a vision and mission

IMAGINE waking up one morning and finding that you are unable to see anything.
That was what happened to Kenyan Henry Wanyoike in 1995. Anyone else might have gone into depression, but not Wanyoike.
Instead of brooding over his fate, Wanyoike was determined to make his life a meaningful one. And, today, he is the Goodwill Ambassador for the Standard Chartered Bank’s Seeing is Believing programme, which aims to raise funds for one million sight restorations.
“I may have lost my sight but I’ve not lost my vision. Just like many other Kenyans, I wanted to be a champion. Determination, dedication, discipline, sacrifice, commitment and team work have made me a champion today.
“I have completed 18 marathons, and not only have I taken part in the Paralympics in Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004) but won gold medals in the 5,000m. I could not have achieved these results if I had not accepted the challenge when I lost my sight in 1995,” Wanyoike said
Wanyoike is in Malaysia for the Standard Chartered KL Marathon which will be held at the Dataran Merdeka tomorrow.
The ever-smiling Wanyoike will be taking part in the half marathon.
During his stay in Malaysia, Wanyoike and his guide Joseph Kibunja spent about two hours at SM Pendidikan Khas Cacat Penglihatan in Setapak.
Wanyoike shared his experience with the students while Kibunja highlighted his partnership with the runner.
Kibunja said he had been Wanyokie’s guide since 2000.
“Together we have taken part in many events. It is not something easy but we have managed to overcome the odds due to our understanding and communication. I am happy to be with him,” Kibunja said.
Over the last five years, Wanyoike has won medals in the marathon, half marathon and 10km runs. He is also an accomplished track athlete, winning honours in the 10,000m, 5,000m and 1,500m.
In the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) world championships in Lille, France, Wanyokie won the 10,000m and 5,000m, setting new world records in the process.
He also holds the marathon world record (2’31:31) for the blind, a feat he achieved in Hamburg, Germany, in 2005.
SM Pendidikan Khas Cacat principal Che Fatimah Che Abdullah said they were grateful to Standard Chartered for initiating the programme.
“We will have about 30 students taking part in the KL marathon. Out students will certainly be inspired after listening to Wanyoike and Kibunja,” she said.

1 comment:

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