Veterans: We earned nothing while making Kenya proud in world races
Bethwel Kimaiyo, member of Athletes Veteran Association during a consultative meeting in Eldoret yesterday. 12.08.2020. PHOTOS BY PETER OCHIENG/STANDARD

What can you do with $3, an equivalent of Sh324?

That is the amount in allowances a Kenyan athlete would earn for winning a gold medal in the 1970s.

Those days, the pride of winning medals while representing the country in the Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games among other competitions, was greater than the hefty prize monies athletes currently earn form winning races.

In fact, things were worse during the 1960s when athletes earned even less after bagging medals.

Unlike the current crop athletes who enjoy earnings from several commercial races and endorsements, the country’s pioneer athletes made no decent earnings from races.

To them, it was all about carrying your country’s flag, and nothing more.

From the World athletics Diamond League to well sponsored marathons and other road races, today’s crop of athletes are living the life their elders would only dream of.

Fathwel Kimaiyo did not only win the 100m hurdles gold medal in the 1974 Commonwealth Games, but also set a Kenya national record of 13.69.

Kimaiyo, 72, was among six pioneer athletes who had gathered at Pandaptai restaurant in Eldoret on Wednesday afternoon.

A well-wisher had organised a meeting for the legends who are now under the Veterans Athletes Association of Kenya to enjoy a cup of tea and reminisce their athletics careers.

Although he was lucky to have landed a job at the University of Eldoret where he has since retired, Kimaiyo says he earned $3 as allowances in his active years, which was not enough to give him and his family a decent life.

“We won medals and flew the Kenyan flag and we would go straight to State House to return the flags. The team would return to their homes or work for those who had jobs, and that was the end of it,” he said.

Kimaiyo calls on President Uhuru Kenyatta to come to their aid, saying most of them are battling age-related complications and have no health insurance covers.

 

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