Despite Their 'Broken English', Athletes Have Heavily Invested Track, Marathon Proceeds in Education
- Kipchoge Keino established Kipkeino primary school in his Baraka Farm at Jua Kali area in Uasin Gishu county
- Tegla Chemabwai Sang is the director Chemabwai-Sang Education Centre in Maili Nne in the outskirts of Eldoret town
- Several other stars harbour insatiable hunger for education and have heavily invested in centres of excellence
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It is always about laughter for fans at the spectators stands or glued to their screens as most athletes are interviewed post-race.
Perceived poor grasp of the English language, grammar, sentences construction and failure to understand media questions has always given comic relief to fans. Stage fright has always been to blame.
The manner they respond to queries has made fans assume most athletes are illiterate.
However, investing in top-quality education has always been emphasised as it manifests how former athletes have invested their wealth in.
From Kenya’s first woman to compete at the Olympic Games, Tegla Chemabwai Sang, former world record holder Tegla Loroupe, Olympian Kipchoge Keino, three-time world record holder Daniel Komen, triple world 3000m steeplechase champ Moses Kiptanui.
The stars harbour insatiable hunger for education and have heavily invested in centres of excellence.
After hanging his track spikes, Kipchoge Keino established Kipkeino primary school in his Baraka Farm at Jua Kali area in Uasin Gishu county.
The athlete with a conspicuous gap in his lower front teeth later established Kipkeino High School at his Kazi Mingi Farm.
The high school was commissioned in 2009 by Jacques Rogge, the then International Olympic Committee president.
Pioneer Kenyan woman Olympian in 1968, Tegla Chemabwai Sang is the director Chemabwai-Sang Education Centre in Maili Nne in the outskirts of Eldoret town.
She is also an athletics coach at the institution as she grooms new talent at the pupils' tender age.
Sang worked as an instructor at Moi University’s West Campus under a sports management course. She later transferred to the University of Eldoret.
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She has coached at the Olympics federation and lectured athletics courses at Moi University, also working as a tutor.
Sang handles physical exercise (PE) classes as she trains budding athletes at her institution.
Daniel Komen, the reigning 3,000m and two-mile world record holder and still the only man alive to run two miles under eight minutes, has invested in a private school, Potters Academy, in the leafy Elgon View Estate.
As he basks in the glory of world records, Komen has lofty dreams in education.
“There is no better way to change society than education. In sports, you make money but you need knowledge to invest,” said Komen.
Felix Limo, the 2006 London Marathon winner, owns Felisons Academy, a private school at Kapseret on Eldoret-Kapsabet road.
Limo boasts of wins in London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Chicago marathons before retiring in 2012.
After hanging up his marathon shoes, his thirst for education made him join Methodist University for a Diploma in Animal Health.
After completing his diploma, Limo enrolled for a degree course at the University of Eldoret; he graduated with a degree in Veterinary Services.
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The 1992 Olympic 800m silver medalist William Mutwol runs St Marcel Rayfarm Academy.
He chose to invest around his rural home, and he is synonymous with the school, not because of the Olympics medal.
As he is a frequent sight at the school, most people refer to him as ‘mwalimu’ (teacher).
1995 Berlin Marathon winner Sammy Lelei who registered a personal-best mark of 2:07.02, owns and runs Lelei Secondary School in Moiben constituency.
1998 world half marathon champion the late Paul Koech established Major Paul Koech Academy in Soy Constituency.
Koech won bronze in the 10,000m at the All Africa Games in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1995. He won gold in 5,000m African title in Yaoundé, Cameroon, in 1996.
2002 Frankfurt Marathon third-placed James Moiben, established James Moiben High School in Ziwa, Soy Constituency.
In Elgeyo Marakwet county, former world 3,000m steeplechase record holder Moses Kiptanui is another trailblazer of centres of excellence.
Unlike his peers, Kiptanui – the first man in the world to run 3000m steeplechase sub-eight minutes opted to invest in public schools.
In partnership with Shoe4Africa, an American charity organisation, he established Shoe4Africa Moses Kiptanui Primary School.
“I decided that we must have a school at Kaborowa area since the neighbouring primary schools are far apart,” Kiptanui said.
He noted that he was touched seeing young children trek long distances to school and opted to change the daily narrative.
Kiptanui, whose alma mater is Marakwet High School, also established Moses Kiptanui Chepkok Primary in Chesoi.
Sally Kipyego, the London Olympics 10,000m silver medalist, found the need to start Sally Kipyego Shoe4Africa Kaptiony Primary School.
Runner up in New York and Boston marathons, Christopher Cheboiboch owns Salaba Academy on Eldoret-Iten Road.
Joseph Chesire, a 1,500m athlete during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and his sibling Michael Chesire, runs Kapserere Academy in Chepkorio in Keiyo South.
Former world Half Marathon silver medalist Josephat Kiprono runs Talai Academy.
Three-time London Marathon winner Martin Lel helped built Martin Lel Shoe4Africa Primary School near Mosoriot.
2007 world 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei extended her philanthropy to Shoe4Africa Kabirirsang Primary School.
1999 World Cup 1,500m champion Laban Rotich set up Laban Rotich Academy.
Former world marathon record holder Tegla Loroupe owns Tegla Loroupe Peace Academy in Sioi, West Pokot county.
Paul Kipsiele Koech, among the fastest marathoners in history, helped build Kapchekworo Primary School in Sotik, Bomet county.
Four-time New York Marathon winner Mary Keitany is associated with The Mary Keitany Shoe4Africa School in Baringo.
Most athletes have won scholarships to study and compete in athletics abroad for their universities.
Story by Kevin Tunoi, TUKO.co.ke correspondent.
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