Simon Kibai Cherono strikes Sh4 million jackpot for sweeping Deaflympics Games

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore with Deaflympics medallists. Safaricom rewarded all the medallists with Sh12.8 million. [Photo: Jonah Onyango/Standard]

By Erick Ochieng’

Nairobi, Kenya: Kenya’s team to the 22nd Summer Deaflympics Games in Sofia, Bulgaria, Monday walked home licking the sweat of their hard work with a total of Sh12.8 million reflecting in their bank account balances.

Sponsors Safaricom kept their end of the bargain and rewarded 10 medallists with the windfall for winning 17 medals — six gold, five silver and six bronze — in the games that ended last week. Kenya topped Africa and was placed eighth globally out of 72 countries that took part in the competition.

The greatest beneficiary was triple champion Simon Kibai Cherono who clinched gold in the men’s 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m. Cherono was not only awarded Sh3million (one million for each gold) but also received an extra Sh1million  for breaking the 10,000m World Record in 29:16.00, making his total reward Sh4 million.

Another big winner was world champion Beryl Achieng who doubled her pay cheque to Sh2 million for lowering the World Junior record time in the 200m to 24:46.

“It feels good to be on top of the world. My task now is to strive and improve on the record,” Cherono told FeverPitch.

Reigning world 10,000m, 5,000m and marathon champion Daniel Kiptum received Sh2.2 million for winning a gold medal in the 42km race and two silvers, while Baxton Menjo took home Sh1.9 million for winning gold, silver and bronze in the 3,000m, 1,500m and 800m.

Other winners included the 2008 Turkey World marathon champion Peter Toroitich, who got Sh900,000, Lucas Wandia (Sh600, 000) and bronze medalists David Kipkogei, Rebecca Matiko, Michael Leting and David Wamira (Sh300,000 each).

Speaking during the award ceremony, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore congratulated the winners for their outstanding performance.

 “With each medal you won, and with your participation, you made Kenya proud. Safaricom is particularly honoured because we believed in you and you have brought back excellent results.

“I would like to encourage the amateurs to continue training really hard as such a journey needs regular intense practice,” he said.

The Chairman of the Deaf Athletics Association of Kenya, Jones Kirui thanked Safaricom for their support. He said it was a great incentive for the athletes, which is bound to make them perform even better in future.

Jones said: “With this kind of award, everybody will work harder next time and Kenya will continue being at the forefront of these competitions.”

The team surpassed their Taipei medal performance in which Kenya bagged seven medals that included four gold. At position 35 globally, South Africa was the second-placed country on the continent with two silver and one bronze medal.

The Deaflympics Games, which take place every four years, are open to athletes who are hearing impaired. The different disciplines include athletics, football, basketball, volleyball and swimming.