Three most badass moments in Kenyan athletics

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022 18:38 | By
Hyvon Ngetich crawling To the finishline. PHOTO/COURTESY

Kenyan athletes are arguably known to be the finest when it comes to setting historic milestones.

Moreover, these athletes have also shown resilience and character that has well been engraved in memories.

Let's gear up and dive into the most unbelievable moments ever witnessed in the country’s athletic history.

Hyvon Ngetich shows her fighting spirit

Hyvon Ngetich is simply so badass that she has no memory of what she did. The reason she’s on this list is because, on February 15, 2015, at the Austin Marathon, she refused to quit.

Leading the pack for most of the race and all but assured of a win, her body gave up when she had only 50 metres to go. Weaker people would have quit right there, and accepted the wheelchair the moment the race medics rushed to her side. Hyvon was having none of it.

She refused to quit and crawled the rest of the way until she crossed the finish line. Here’s how absolutely crazy this is, she still finished third!

While she was crawling the last 50 meters, only two people, one of them a fellow Kenyan, managed to pass her. How badass is that? Your blood sugar decides to conk out while you can see the line, and you still beat all but two!

Then when she was asked why she had chosen to crawl, she said, “I don’t remember all that crawling or whatever, even the collapsing I don’t remember.” Then she added, “in running, always you have to keep going, going.”

Machuka punches Gerbesallasie
It might not look like it now but there was a time when the man Ethiopian king of the track Haile Gerbresellasie was most afraid of was a Kenyan called Josephat Machuka.

They were almost evenly matched in the 10,000 metres, and would often fight it out at the last lap.

At the World Junior Championships in 1992, Machuka was fighting for first place with Gebreselassie when he saw his lead melting in front of him just metres to the finish line.

When he realized he had lost to his main opponent, he took the fight a notch up (which is an understatement really). He punched him at the back of the head!

Of course, the action was not sportsmanlike and Machuka was disqualified. But he knew that already.

Imagine how frustrated you need to be to not even want to settle for second place. Machuka went on to have what qualifies as a remarkable career, but he is often remembered for that single punch.

Kip Keino collapses
When he arrived at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, he started suffering abdominal pains.

He still ran in the heats because they weren’t severe. With only three laps to go in the 10,000m final, and well on his way to winning Kenya’s first Olympics gold, his body gave in.

He collapsed and fell outside the track, disqualifying himself in the process. But he still stood up and finished the race which was won by his teammate, Naftali Temu.

He told his doctor he wouldn’t run the final. He had been diagnosed with gallstones, and any more stress could kill him. Kip Keino understood those words, but Kip Keino hadn’t come to Mexico City to quit because of a single uncooperative organ.

With only a few hours to the race, he changed his mind and caught a bus to the stadium. The bus got stuck in traffic and Kip hopped out and ran the rest of the way.

He should have been at a disadvantage; his main challenger, Jim Ryun, had already beaten him many times before. What’s more? Ryun was fresh. Kip got to the starting line having already run 3.21 kilometres to the stadium, and more than eight races in the previous week and a half.

But Kip Keino and his body had come to an impasse at this point. They didn’t care for each other at all. This wasn’t sulking, this was a breakup. He won the event in a miraculous fashion beating his long-time rival and the then World record holder Jim Ryun.

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