• Though Kipchoge never broke a record in the mile, his contribution to the discipline is valued and remembered by those he competed against with nostalgia.
•His journey in the mile started in 1965 in Britain where he became the first African to run under 4 minutes
Kenyan legend Kipchoge Keino still remembers his days as a runner as if it happened yesterday.As he was honoured alongside other mile greats during the World Athletics Heritage Mile Night held at Le Méridien Beach Plaza Hotel on Thursday,Kipchoge narrated how he ruled the event despite death threats in some events.
Though Kipchoge never broke a record in the mile, his contribution to the discipline is valued and remembered by those he competed against with nostalgia.
His journey in the mile started in 1965 in Britain where he became the first African to run under 4 minutes. He won the event during the 1965 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica and repeated the same feat in 1970 in Scotland. Here, he received death threats after winning the event and was forced to slow down to allow home athletes to make a 1-2 finish.
He also played a key role in grooming his neighbour Filbert Bayi to win the event at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand. " I invited Filbert in Kiganjo and took him through a serious training regime prior to the games. I was not surprised when he won because I knew he had what it takes," he said.
For him, this was another important honour after being feted at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
" I don't take these awards for granted. But the most important thing I want to leave with the next generation is athletics legacy that can inspire them," he noted, adding "After all we came to this world with nothing and we will leave with nothing."
He insisted that athletes need to run clean because athletics has been and will always remain a clean sport," he added.
Kip was awarded alongside JRoger Bannister and Diane Leather Charles, who respectively became the first man to run the mile in under four minutes and the first woman to break the five-minute barrier for the distance.
Meanwhile, four world famous mile races and their host meetings were recognized in the ‘Competition’ category.
The UK’s Emsley Carr Mile(various venues) which was founded in 1953 in the memory of Sir William Carr, a former editor of the News of the World was recognized for their efforts in inspiring a successful sub -4 mile attempt. Hicham El Guerrouj’s 3:45.96 run in 2000 is the current race record.
New York’s Millrose Games (1908) which is the world’s oldest indoor meeting has produced six wins by Glenn Cunningham in the 1930s, seven by Eamonn Coghlan in the 1970s and 1980s and eight by Bernard Lagat in the 2000s.
The Oslo Bislett Games were founded in 1924 but its modern history began under Arne Haukvik’s direction in 1965. Its marquee attraction is the Dream Mile (1976) which has seen three world records, one each from Britain’s Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram.
Eugene’s Prefontaine Classic (1975) and the Bowerman Mile (1975) was recognized in two categories, ‘Competition’ and ‘Legend’, given its history has been successfully driven by the memory of Oregon’s 24-year-old Steve Prefontaine who died in a car crash in 1975.
The seventh plaque recipient was Brussels’ Memorial Van Damme (1977) which was also created to honour in memory of Belgium’s 22-year-old Ivo Van Damme, whose life was lost in a car crash in December 1976, just months’ after he won 800m and 1500m silver medals at the Montreal Olympic Games.
The eighth plaque recognised the Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe, Germany which was established in 1985.Two of the current women’s world indoor records were set in the southeastern German city, Genzebe Dibaba at 1500m in 2014 and Susanna Kallur at 100m hurdles in 2008.