When Ian Keino, the son of Kenya‘s legendary athlete Kipchoge Keino, remembered the great achievements of his father and other retired stars in the 1960s and 1970s, something occurred to him.
In 1996 he started collecting legends of legends on a book, and yesterday it was time to unveil the collection.
In the book entitled Kenya: The Beautiful, the who’s who of Kenya’s track and field history wrote their signatures in their own handwriting.
Among the signatures that stand out in the book are those of Naftali Temu, the last Kenyan to win 10,000m in the 1968 Olympics, and Ben Jipcho, the first Kenyan to win 3,000m steeplechase. The two have since died.
Former Presidents of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Juan Antonio Samaranch and Jacques Rogge, who also passed away, signed the book before they died.
Athletes sign on one page with pictures or text about Kenyan history – from sights to wildlife.
Moses Tanui, for example, who was the first person to run a half marathon under an hour (59:47) in Stramilano in 1993, wrote his signature on a page that shows a picturesque picture of Mount Kenya.
The book contains more than 100 signatures from Kenyan athletes, most of whom represented the country in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
Yesterday, marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge and two-time Olympic champion Kipchoge Keino signed the book at the unveiling. The book was also given to the Kipchoge Keino Foundation and the Eliud Kipchoge Foundation, which were founded by the retired athlete and world record holder.
“We created this book so that we could have an overview of our own athletes, what they have done at events and for their country, and what they have achieved in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games,” said Kip Keino during the signing ceremony in Eldoret.
Taking the opportunity to call for more sports venues in the country, Kip Keino said Kenya had enough talent. He called on the country to set up facilities in schools to develop talent.
âTake an event like swimming or tennis or basketball, for example. Talents in such events need a playground to perform. I feel like we did our best but we still have to do more, âsaid the legend.
He urged top athletes like Eliud Kipchoge to give back to society by promoting talent when they retire from active sport.
Two-time Olympic marathon champion Eliud said the book covers Kenya’s sports and tourism history.
âThe book is about the country of Kenya; the wild animals, the nature reserves and all the tribes of the land. In addition, all past and current champions, including the deceased, have signed it.
Eliud said the two foundations had received the green light to auction the book.
He said the proceeds will be used for empowering youth, improving health and protecting the environment – these are the pillars of the two foundations.
Ian Keino, who has been collecting the signatures of the legendary athletes for 25 years, said the book will soon be sold to the highest bidder through an auction, during a marathon in the US or at a global sporting event.
“We’re glad we had the opportunity to collect their story through their signatures while they were still alive,” he said.
He continued, âI gave the book to someone to collect signatures for me, and the book is gone. I lost hope of finding it, and after ten years one of my friends told me that he had seen the book somewhere and brought it to me. ”
At some point during the collection of the signatures from the Legends, Ian said the book was lost and was untraceable for ten years between 2004 and 2014.
“To my surprise, it was still intact and I kept it to this day when we decided to donate it to both the Kip Keino and the Eliud Kipchoge Foundation.”
He said that Eliud Kipchoge and Kip Keino will decide on the international event at which the book will be sold.