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Kenya’s first Olympic medalist Wilson Kiprugut warns Olympics squad against doping

ATHLETICS By Jonathan Komen | May 27th 2021
Kenya’s first Olympic medalist Wilson Kiprugut Chumo says it’s shameful to get stripped of Olympic medals for use of banned substances. [Photo: Courtesy]

Wilson Kiprugut Chumo, who won Kenya’s first Olympic medal at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, has cautioned the national team against doping.

Kiprugut, who won bronze in 800m, said it shameful for athletes to win medals at the Olympics and get stripped later.

“Doping is a very bad vice. It puts our nation into discredit. I ask them to avoid using banned substances.

“Athletes visit me in my house here (Kericho) and the first thing I tell them is to avoid doping. I encourage them to work hard and utilise their talents. They should just work and trust in God,” Kiprugut told The Standard Sports at his home near Kipsigis Girls High School in Kericho recently.

His remarks came even as Jemimah Sumgong was banned few years after winning Gold at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

“Sometimes, I used to visit junior training camp at Kiptere Secondary School and offer some advise to the young athletes. I tell them to protect the Kenyan image. During our time, we never used to dope,” said the 83-year-old Kiprugut, who served at the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).

Kiprugut 'brags': “We went to the Olympic as newcomers. We were very young though I competed internationally at the Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia, in 1962.

His Olympic medal hangs on the wall in his bedroom. “This is a very important medal for me and the entire country. When I arrived in Nairobi (on October 29, 1964), I carried shoulders high on the streets. There was a huge celebration.

“People from different parts of the country turned up. It is a moment I will never forget.

“I cherish the Olympic medal. That is why I keep it in my bedroom. I am proud to be Kenya’s first Olympic medalist,” he said.

Former athlete Wilson Kiprugut Chumo at his residential home in Kericho County. He was the first African to participate in Olympic games. 19.05.2021. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Kiprugut said the competition at the Olympic Games in 1964 was not as stiff as nowadays.

“The competition was very low. Our athletes ran faster nowadays. Charles Mukora was our coach,” he said.

He said they still keep in touch with some of the Olympic track legends like Kipchoge Keino.

“Kipchoge Keino visited me recently. We shared a lot about our days representing the country. He told me about the need to advise our young athletes on so many issues like doping,” he said.

On the state of sports stadia in the country, he said, the Government has tried a lot to build sports infrastructure.

“The Government has made good efforts. During our time, there were few sporting facilities. The reward scheme from competition was too little. We could only get seven dollars. That was until in 1972 Olympic Games in Munich when money started streaming in. The likes of Kipchoge Keino made some cash,” he added.

His son, Gideon Rugut, said the track legend is still fit and sound. “Mzee is still fit. He shares a lot with us about athletics only none of us took up the sport. We are proud of him as the first Kenyan to win an Olympic medal. He has brought fame and pride to our family and the nation. He is a very strict man in what points to his background from Kenya Defence Forces and sports,” he said.

QUOTE

“Doping is a very bad vice. It puts our nation into discredit. I ask our Olympic team to avoid using banned substances." (Wilson Kiprugut Chumo, Kenya's first Olympic medalist)

Wilson Kiprugut Chumo Facts

Born: 1938

Achievements

1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo: Bronze in 800m

1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City: Silver in 800m

1965 All Africa Games in Brazzaville: Gold in 400m

1965 All Africa Games in Brazzaville: Gold in 800m

1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston: Silver in 880 yards

October 29, 1964

The day Wilson Kiprugut Chumo arrived from Tokyo Olympic Games having won Kenya's first Olympic medal

 Kiprugut grew up in Kericho and started running as a child while at Kaptebeswet Primary School and Sitotwet Intermediate School. [Peter Ochieng, The Standard]
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