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Young upcoming Champions in Athletics
When I was first told to talk to the young athletes about young upcoming champions in athletics, I got excited and then I realised that in today’s sports, there are a lot of challenges in regards to athletics unlike during our time. It is often taken for granted that prominent and celebrated athletes, for instance, Jesse Owens, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Haile Gebrselassie and I myself Kipchoge Keino are role models for many people (especially the young) who always look at both the elite and the retired athletes as role models.
Some say that presently running is all about winning at all cost but there should be passion and the love for the game. As the statement made by the US Olympic Committee in February 2009 provides a great evidence for the fact that some people don’t hold this belief: “As a young person when you decide to join athletics better get there with one mission to be a hero, to win clean so as to succeed because athletics is a career like any other, and you young people are so lucky that in your times is that any success is rewarded handsomely, unlike our times when the Trophy was enough”.
As a person train yourself to be genuine in all your endeavours, so that after athletics there is life, today as I stand before you I am 78 years old and I still run in my farm every morning, I am not boasting about it but there has been God’s grace of course. You must embrace yourselves so that the world will have decent athletic champions to admire and not laboratory made humans. Plan to live after athletics but when you involve yourself with additives, apart from cheating yourself, you will also be lying to the world by portraying who you are not while endangering your life. Actually, I know there is a lot of influence for you young people from your peers and other people but my prayer for you is that may you desist the urge to follow the group and do the right thing as you follow the right path and God will reward you with prosperity and long life. You will win if you train well and hard in an ambient conducive environment in the right gear, I won a medal while running barefooted, I was not on any special diet but I did it through hardwork and perseverance. You, young people, are lucky, you have trainers and good training grounds, just be disciplined, determined and have confidence and you will definitely succeed since there is no gain without pain and every pain there must be a gain at the end of the day.
As someone said. “Anti-doping policy is good because it also relates to children and youngsters, who should have some decent heroes to look up to
– not medicated machines, not human wonders produced in laboratories, but doping-free athletes made of flesh and blood. In today’s world sport is such a decisive part of young people’s daily life and self-understanding... that we must be sure that fair play and healthy competition is on top of the podium” (Mikkelsen 2003). I quote.
Lastly, embrace the game and make sure you cherish every game, every season and every training and it will be over a lot sooner than you realise.
Thank you very much and God bless you.
Keino Hezekiah Kipchore, "Young upcoming Champions in Athletics", in:K. Georgiadis (ed.), Challenges an Olympic Athlete faces as a Role Model, 58th International Session for Young Participants (Ancient Olympia,16-30/6/2018), International Olympic Academy, Athens, 2019, pp.98-99.