Newly crowned Men’s Marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum has been recognized as a hero during the Mashujaa Day Celebrations held Friday. Kiptum is among a total of 24 sportsmen and women athletes who were bestowed with Heroes and Heroines award in their respective counties.
Kiptum became the first man to run a marathon under 2hrs and one minute in a competitive race while winning this year’s Chicago marathon in a new record 2hrs and 35 seconds.
Kiptum has competed in and won three marathons, including two top-tier World Marathon Majors, between December 2022 and October 2023 securing three of the top six times ever run. He eclipsed compatriot Eliud Kipchoge’s record of 2.01.29 set in 2018 in Berlin.
Double world record holder and double world champion Faith Kipyegon was also recognized for her record setting feat that saw her set three world records over 1,5000m,5,000 and 1 mile this year alone. However the 5,000m record has since been shattered by Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay who raced to a 14.00.21 during the Diamond League finale in Eugene, USA in September.
Faith, a double Olympic champion followed up her scintillating season with double triumph at the World Athletics Championship in Hungary where she won the women’s 1,500m and 5,000m titles.
Pioneer men’s marathon world champion Douglas Wakihuri was also feted in Nyeri County for his exceptional record on track. Wakihuri became the first Kenyan to win a men’s marathon at the World Championship when he triumphed at 1987 games in Rome and also went on to win a silver medal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul.
Wakihuri has also a road named after him in Kenyan Capital, Nairobi.
World 800m champion Emmanuel Wanyonyi was also recognized and feted in Bungoma County while Japhet Musyoki Musee was also bestowed with Heroes award in Kitui County. Japheth is credited with pioneering sports among people living with disability .He won silver medal at the 1980 Paralympics games in shotput. He went on to win gold in the discipline at the 1984 Paralympics Games where he also won silver in discuss.
Rugby Legend Prof Max Muniafu was also honored for his trailblazing role when he captained the pioneer national rugby sevens team at the 1986 Hong Kong sevens. Muniafu retired in 2000 after 18 illustrious years on the rugby pitch.
Other sportspersons feted include:2003 national men’s cricket team member who was part of the squad that reached the 2003 World Cup semi final Joseph Angara,former national women’s netball team captain Dorothy Omondi, wheel chair tennis player Jane Ndenga and boxing promoter Franklyn Imbenzi.
Others feted are: deaf football proponent Stephen Waweru, wrestler Kennedy Ochieng ,Taekwondo’s Ronald Lukalo, former basketball player Kennedy Odegi,former handball player Nixon Mwanda Oyaro, sitting volleyballer Doris Nyangor ,Amputee football coach and former national amputee football team captain Dalmas Otieno ,2023 Tokyo Marathon winner Rosemary Wanjiru and wrestler Peter Onyango.
The awards is given to the recipients in recognition of their outstanding or distinguished services rendered to the nation in various capacities and responsibilities. The names are drafted by the national heroes council. The Council categorised the heroes into 14 categories including freedom fighters, spiritual leaders, peace makers and sportsmen and women who have raised the flag high.