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Kenyan Wanyoike defies all odds

Visually impaired runner did not give up after mild stroke robbed him of his sight

Henry Wanyoike
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan /Gulf News
Henry Wanyoike (left) and Joseph Kibunja during theStandard Chartered Dubai Marathon press conference inDubai. Kibunja serves as a guide to Wanyoike during events.
Gulf News

Dubai: Henry Wanyoike of Kenya is visually impaired but that has not blinded his faith in himself to keep running. He is one of the runners in the 10k of the Dubai Marathon tomorrow.

A world record holder of the 5000m and 10,000m events of Paralympics, Wanyoike told Gulf News: "In 1995 when I was 21, I suffered a mild stroke. It affected my optic canals and lost my sight. I was a good athlete when it happened as I used to regularly win schools athletic events. I thought I will never be able to run again."

Wanyoike did not give up. He enrolled for Paralympic trials and went for the Sydney 2000 Paralympics where he bagged a gold medal in 5000m. Since then he has participated in all international events for the disabled and keeps winning.

"I run mini marathons around the world with my friend Joseph Kibunja, who guides me correctly. We touch each other with a string. He will inform me a few metres before a turn to slow down and also about any obstacles in front of me," said Wanyoike, handing over his visiting card with the words: one day, one world, one vision. He is today the goodwill ambassador for International Paralympics Committee as well as Standard Chartered Bank's effort to raise $100 million (Dh367 million) to eliminate preventable blindness by 2020.

Co-ordinated run

Wanyoike said it was tough to co-ordinate his running with Kibunja. "It took nearly four years before I could run with him as in the start I used to fall down and sometimes he used to run faster.

"Today he knows when I am slowing down and when he is speeding. We are connected by a tether on the wrist." Wanyoike is happy to have company during a run. "I am so happy I have someone next to me talking all the while and even telling me about the reaction of the people."


Juan Martin Del Potro holds the championship trophy after defeating Roger Federer (not pictured) in the men's finals in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.