Eliud Kipchoge, the legend, is leading from the front in distributing relief food to vulnerable athletes in the Rift Valley.
On Friday, the Olympic champion and world marathon record holder spent his day in Kericho County distributing the food which was flagged off by Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed on Thursday.
Kipchoge, along with his Eliud Kipchoge Foundation, was picked as the ambassador of the relief project by the Ministry of Sport to motivate and come to the aid of athletes who have lost huge potential income owing to cancellation of races as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to bite.
The food was donated by the ministry and well wishers, including the Hindu Council of Kenya, with Sports Principal Secretary Joe Okudo joining Amina in flagging off the consignments on Thursday.
The packages being given to each athlete, have, inter alia, maize and wheat flour, rice, cooking oil and pasta.
Athletes in Kericho were excited to not only receive the portions, but also have a close encounter with their legend Kipchoge who became the first man to run the marathon in under two hours in Vienna last October.
Kipchoge was, perhaps, difficult to identify, given that he wore a face mask in tandem with public health directives, but his Nike jumper and unique, grey Nike Zoom shoes along with the spring the famous spring in his step as he moved up and down, unloading the consignments from trucks, gave him in.
Seeing the legend “live” was huge consolation for the disruption in the Kericho athletes’ training programmes by Covid-19 precautions that outlaw group training sessions and races from being held.
Kipchoge’s programme too has been seriously disrupted by the pandemic.
Last month, he had been lined up with his Ethiopian Global Sports Communication stable mate but rival, Kenenisa Bekele, at the London Marathon.
Then in July, he was primed to defend his Olympic marathon title in Sapporo.
But while the April 26 London Marathon was postponed to October 4, the Olympic Games have been pushed to July and August next year, holding all factors constant.
Kipchoge has now to juggle between staying in shape and helping out the disadvantaged athletes, indeed the hallmark of a selfless legend.
On Friday, Kipchoge will be on the food relief mission in Kapsabet, Eldoret, Iten and Kaptagat.
"Through Eliud Kipchoge, we have identified 58 athletes who are very needy and deserve to get these food packages,” CS Amina said on Thursday while flagging off the food convoy at Nyayo National Stadium.
“The effects of the pandemic mean they cannot compete and they do not have any source of income.”
The CS, who announced earlier in the week that cover 1,000 sportsmen and women will benefit from the relief food, also appealed to the private sector and individuals to supplement the government's efforts in helping the vulnerable sportsmen and women.
"We have several organisations that have already donated to us, like (gaming firm) Betika and we have also some money from the Sports Fund for this initiative, but we need to reach more athletes and sportsmen. We, therefore, call upon more organisations to come on board and help sportspeople during these difficult times," she appealed.
Kipchoge joins Harambee Stars players, including skipper Victor Wanyama, Francis Kahata and Johanna Omollo, who have sacrificed their time and resources to help the less privileged Kenyans in the current impasse.
On Friday, Kenya's total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases rose to 621 with the announcement of 14 more positive test results.