Samwel Mushai was not the fastest man on the track when he won the T11 1,500 metres gold on Monday. That distinction goes to James Boit, Mushai’s guide since 2010.
When visually impaired runners choose a guide, they always choose someone faster than them. That’s why women sprinters run with men, and why Boit’s personal best in the 1,500m is three minutes and 44 seconds, 13 seconds better than Mushai’s 1,500 T11 world record.
Boit calls Mushai a friend who has changed his life. Training with Mushai has helped Boit to realise that one can be friends with people with disabilities. The same goes for Mushai.
“I love the way we train together,” Mushai said on Tuesday. “He’s an understandable person. He’s caring to me. He takes of me.”
New athlete guide
Mushai and Boit met in Eldoret. Mushai was on the hunt for a new athlete guide because he felt the one he ran with in Beijing was not strong enough.
“When I met Mushai, he told me he needed a guy stronger than him,” Boit said yesterday, the day after their track victory at the London Olympic Stadium. But Mushai wasn’t just looking for a speedy guide. He was also looking for someone whose stride matched his well.
According to Boit, Mushai said “Your steps and mine play together” when he asked him to be his guide.
James Boit hails from Eldoret where he is the oldest of 10 siblings.
The 26-year old still lives with his parents, Willy and Salina Karonei, who are farmers. His youngest sibling, a brother, was born in 2006.
Boit started training in 2007 when he performed well in district competitions. As for training, Boit and Mushai usually are together about four months of year. Mushai lives far from Boit, so he travels to Eldoret where they train at Kaptagat.
Boit believes that Mushai is so good he could also win the 1,500m T12, which features runners with better vision.
Outside of the time they are together, Boit runs in able-bodied competitions to remain faster than Mushai. All his work has paid off.
After the gold medal-winning run, Mushai congratulated Boit. “He said you have done a good job,” Boit said.
After six years of training, the big money is about to start rolling in.
Since he won the gold medal with Mushai, Boit is also likely to receive the Sh2 million shilling bonus from the Kenyan government and Safaricom Limited.
“When I was training, I was financially assisted by my parents. This is the first time I will have earned much money like this,” Boit said.
Outside of training
Up until now, Boit has earned no more than Sh10,000 at local meets.
To help with training, Mushai has provided small money for food for Boit’s family. “My first thing is to assist my family because I have my brothers who are still in school,” Boit said when asked what he will do with his money. He also plans to expand the family’s farmland.
Outside of training, Boit goes to church and loves listening to reggae and blues music.
His favourite artists are Lucky Dube and Rose Muhando.