What you need to know:
- The 46-year-old visually impaired long distance runner says a Paralympics marathon gold medal is the only top accolade that he is missing, and that winning it will see him end his athletics career on a high.
Before Henry Wanyoike retires from competitive athletics, he hopes to achieve one thing – win a gold medal in a full marathon at the Paralympics.
The 46-year-old visually impaired long distance runner says a Paralympics marathon gold medal is the only top accolade that he is missing, and that winning it will see him end his athletics career on a high.
Because of his advanced age in the sport, the multiple gold medallist hopes to attain that feat at the 2020 Summer Paralympic Games, which was rescheduled to next year from August 24 to September 5 in Tokyo, Japan due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I want to do my best to make it to Japan next year. It (the 2020 Paralympics) might be my last, and so I really wish to be there, to see if I can win a gold medal in the marathon,” Wanyoike told Nation Sport.
And there being no local events yet that Wanyoike and his guide, Paul can use to gauge their progress towards that course, virtual races have come in handy for them.
Since October, the two have competed in various virtual races, with some involving athletes in other countries.
They include the 21km, 10km and 5km run to help fight blindness and breast cancer in Africa, World Sight Day Half Marathon, 10km Riabai road race and The Africa Challenge, which involved athletes from Kenya and South Africa.
In the 21km, 10km and 5km run to help fight blindness and breast cancer in Africa, Wanyoike timed 1hour, 21 minutes and 47 seconds, 32:29 and 15: 29 respectively.
For the World Sight Day Half Marathon, 10km Riabai road race and The Africa Challenge where he competed in the 5km category, he clocked 1:21:47, 30:57 and 16:33 respectively.
The Harmburg Marathon record holder says he is encouraged by his performance in the virtual races, owing to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The virtual races have had a good impact in my preparation because after training, it is good that you go for a competition to gauge yourself. I am really motivated by what I have done and I have to do more, to qualify for the Paralympics,” said the Paralympian, adding that the races have also helped him to remain positive during this period that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused people a lot of misery.
As they wait for communication from the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) regarding the qualification for the Tokyo games, Wanyoike and Paul have maintained a training routine of two hours and 30 minutes. To qualify for the full marathon in Paralympics, one must time below 2hours and 50 minutes in a competition recognised by the IPC.
Apart from setting a good example to the many young people who look up to him, Wanyoike says shining at the Paralympics will go a long way in promoting equality in the country.
“I do a lot of school talk and I must give morale to the upcoming generation that it is possible no matter your state. I would also like to leave a good mark that people with disability should also be given a chance,” he said.
He noted that after his retirement, he intends to compete in charity races, as long as his body still allows.