Athletics bigwigs Catherine Ndereba and Timothy Cheruiyot were among a handful of Kenyans that President Uhuru Kenyatta honoured after the Jamhuri Day celebrations at Nyayo Stadium yesterday.
The two work for Kenya Prisons Service. Ndereba holds the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Prisons while Cheruiyot is a Chief Inspector of Prisons.
Ndereba, a two-time world marathon champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist as well as a former world record holder with four Boston Marathon titles and two Chicago Marathons toasted in the Head of State commendations.
The retired athlete who is popularly known as ‘The Great’, was crowned with Moran of the Burning Spear (MBS) for her contribution to sports activities.
The 25-year-old Cheruiyot, the reigning world 1500m champion, was awarded Moran of the Burning Spear (MBS) for his impressive shows in athletics this season.
Cheruiyot ran a world leading time of 3:28.45 over 1500m and went undefeated in three 1500m races this year.
Not bad for a man who made frantic attempts to excel in 800m while a pupil at Kibungot Primary School and Singorwet Secondary School in Bomet County.
In 2011, he made his maiden trip to Nairobi to compete in World Youth Championships national trials and only managed a fifth place. He opted to get back home, prepare well and enrolled into the nearby Njerian Athletics Camp run by Weldon Kirui, the 2012 Kass Marathon winner.
He again returned to Nairobi for the 2013 World Youth Championships national trials and, surprisingly, another misfortune struck him –he was locked out because of age.
A disappointed Cheruiyot then retreated to his rural home in Bomet and gave up on athletics and joined his father Joel Boit, a former athlete, in tea and maize farming.
After some time, he returned to training and it paid dividends. And the rest is history.
Benjamin Njoga, the chairman of Kenya Prisons Service Athletics, congratulated the two athletes saying they will motivate sports personalities in the country.
“We thank the President for awarding them. They have done the best for the nation, which is worth emulating. Their efforts have been outstanding,” said Njoga.