Martin Keino, 40, is a former professional athlete and pacesetter. Currently the managing director of the Keino Sports Marketing agency, the son of legendary runner Kipchoge Keino spoke to NJOKI CHEGE
Odds have always been staked against him. Not that Martin Keino has not been doing well in his endevours but because he is the son of a legend. So, when he arrived for this interview half an hour late, I was not kicking myself or fidgeting. Understandably, Martin was driving all the way from his base in Eldoret.
Stepping out of the car, I expected him to be worn out but was surprised by his athleticism. Martin looked composed and calm as if he had just driven around a few blocks to the interview.
His boyish looks, well-trimmed body and a bounce in his step did not portray his real age. At 40, it would take a lot of convincing to believe him.
And the moment he opened his mouth, I realised there was more to this man, beyond his father’s fame.
For Martin, growing up as the son of Kipchoge (Kip) Keino was not easy. Everyone expected him to follow his footsteps.
“The expectations were very high (still are). But I must say that I enjoyed running at an early age,” he avers.
Making of a star
Martin says he enjoyed running from an early age of 14 years and was even drafted to compete in high school — Fork Union Military Academy in the USA. But he found going tough in his first year.
“I came last a couple of times, and nobody could understand how the son of a world champion would tail in a race,” recalls Martin.
However, in second year, tables turned and Martin won every race. He did so well that he won a scholarship to the University of Arizona where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Interior Design in 1995.
Soon after graduating, Martin landed a job with Nike International as a designer and began his professional athletics journey.
“I became a professional athlete in 1996 but worked part-time,” says Martin.
He competed in Kenya for the first time in 1996, a move that generated a lot of interest as the public wanted to see if he was a chip off the block.
And Martin trained hard to make his own mark. In fact, his training paid off although he narrowly missed the Atlanta Olympics. Martin came in fourth during the Kenya trials, missing the Olympics berth by a point.
Failing to qualify for Olympics where his father reigned did not dampen his spirits. It spurred him to work even harder.
Soon it paid off as he turned 1996 from a heartbreak year to a fantastic one. He performed better and was even ranked among the top five in the 1500m race in the world and third in the two mile race in the world.
Cutting a niche