IT was a warm welcome home for legendary blind marathon runner Henry Wanyoike as he returned to the Sydney Olympic Stadium today for the first time since he won the 5000m at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics – the first of his multiple Paralympic and World Championship medals.
“It is a great pleasure to return to this great Stadium in Sydney where the people are so welcoming,” Henry said today as he signed the Honour Board at Stadium Australia, which features the signatures of elite athletes and entertainers who have featured at the Stadium over the past 20 years.
Henry’s biggest problem as an athlete has been finding guides who can keep up with him. He famously almost dragged his guide runner over the finish line at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics after setting world-record pace for the 5000m!
Henry’s running talent was recognised as a young boy, and he dreamt of representing Kenya one day. But at the age of 21 Henry suffered a stroke and woke up blind, losing 95% of his vision. “I went to bed a normal person, the following day I found myself in darkness,” Henry said.
With the guidance of sighted runners, he started jogging again. He fell a lot but continued because he said something inside him hadn’t died.
One year later Henry competed and won gold in the 5000m run at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics. The champion runner continued to break records in the 5000m and 10,000m events and then broke the marathon world record for blind athletes at the London Marathon and again at the Hamburg Marathon one week later.
Now the most famous blind distance runner in the world, Henry has been brought out by Initiate Australia. Henry is visiting schools to share his story and promote Initiate Australia’s flagship Global Education Program. The GEP provides senior high school students who are identified as future leaders with the opportunity to take part in a two-week residency in Kenya in July 2020. There they will experience development work firsthand alongside local leaders in a variety of settings including schools, health clinics, athletic centres, the United Nations and with the Henry Wanyoike Foundation.
See more of Henry’s story here: https://youtu.be/41D68H2O7w8