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Henry Wanyoike: Blind runner on a mission in Dubai

Wanyoike loves running at the Dubai Marathon for varied reasons

  • By Jai Prasad V. Rai, Sports Reporter
  • Published: 22:01 January 16, 2013
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit:
  • standing tall: Henry Wanyoike, left, and Joseph Kibunja pose in front of Burj Khalifa during an earlier visit gulf news archives
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Dubai: It will be a busy week for Kenyan visually impaired runner Henry Wanyoike and his running partner Joseph Kibunja when they arrive four days prior to start of Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 2013 scheduled on January 25 in which the duo will run in the 10km run. But it’s something Henry loves doing. The runners will be visiting several schools across Dubai and also conduct clinics as part of the ‘Seeing is Believing’ (SiB) project by Standard Chartered Bank’s global programme to raise $100 million to eliminate avoidable blindness by 2020.

“I will be meeting a lot of school children and talking to them. I want to share my stories and give them inspiration and encourage them to come and participate in the Dubai Marathon,” Wanyoike told XPRESS from Kenya.

“I want to spread love and harmony among everyone and also encourage kids to lead a healthy lifestyle,” said Wanyoike, who holds the world record holder of the 5,000m and 10,000m events at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Paralympics.

Wanyoike said Dubai Marathon was among his top favourites since it involved participants from different countries and culture. “It’s amazing to be in Dubai. I just love to watch so many people from different nationalities coming together. The city is brilliant and the weather is ideal for running,” he said.

Life was not easy for Wanyoike, a gifted runner and was growing up to be a fine athlete during his younger days. But at just 21, he lost his eyesight when he suffered a deadly stroke. That did not stop him from pursing his dream before he was back to running but not before enduring a tough time. He runs in races while being connected by a tether on the wrist to Joseph, who is his childhood friend.

“He is a great friend of mine. It needs a lot of understanding and I think I enjoy it with him since he knows my speed and adjusts accordingly,” said Wanyoike, who recorded a time of 2:31:31 at the Hamburg Marathon in 2005 which is still a world record for blind runners.

Wanyoike has a busy schedule ahead this year and will be attending events in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore.

But it’s his home event held in a small town called Kikuyu in Kenya he is excited about. Called the ‘Hope For the Future Run’ it will enter its seventh edition and will feature seven, five and one km races.

“Last year we had a total of 16,000 participants and we want to touch 20,000 this year. It’s run for everyone and more focused on brining together families. The benefits from the event will go to charity,” he said.

Wanyoike is looking forward to the launching of the documentary ‘Gold – U CAN DO MORE THAN U THINK’ which tells the life stories of three Paralympics athletes including him. The film is directed by Michael Hammon, and features world-class swimmer from Germany Kirsten Bruhn, Austrlian Kurt Fearnley, a world champion wheelchair racer and Wanyoike.

“I’m really excited to be part of this movie. It will be screened in cinemas and it should be a big moment for all of us,” he added.

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