IN RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
Kenya’s legendary middle distance runner, Kipchoge Keino, has bestowed additional honour on the country by becoming the first recipient of the Olympic Laurel award.
Kipchoge, who is also the chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock), received the award at the Games’ opening ceremony early Saturday morning at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium.
The award, in recognition of Kipchoge’s outstanding contribution to the Olympic movement and his work in educating orphaned children, will no doubt inspire Kenyan athletes to strive for excellence when athletics program finally begins on Friday.
The beaming 76-year-old jogged to the podium to receive the award at the end of the glittering opening ceremony that began at 8pm on Friday night in Rio (2am Saturday, Kenyan time).
“As I receive this award, I would like to thank my family and friends who have supported me in all,” said Kipchoge.
"Education supports not only empowers our youth to be better citizens and leaders of the future, but it will also mould them to connect positive change. Humanity depends on us to motivate them,” he added in his brief speech.
Escorted to the podium by a group of children carrying white dove-like kites, Kipchoge also implored the Olympic family to keep on working on youth.
"We come to this world with nothing, we will leave it with nothing," he said.
Kipchoge, who is a two-time Olympic gold medallist for Kenya (1,500m, 1968 Mexico) and (3,000m steeplechase, 1972 Munich) is a highly respected figure within the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
His latest recognition follows closely his induction as one of the 24 inaugural members of the International Association of Athletics Federations Hall of Fame in 2012.
Kipchoge, who is an inspirational figure in Ken