Kenya’s pioneer international athlete, Nyandika Maiyoro, died on Sunday at the age of 88 at the Christa Marianne Hospital in Kisii.
According to his son Kennedy Nyantika, Mzee Maiyoro sank into a coma with breathing problems after having been in the hospital for close to three weeks.
The pioneer Olympian was initially hospitalised at the Kisii General Hospital after he was diagnosed with tuberculosis but his family took him back home owing to the nurses’ strike.
Maiyoro made history during the 1953 Ocean Games in Madagascar by starting his race a minute after the rest of the pack and remarkably beating everyone.
He also holds the record of the first Kenyan to compete in an Olympic final when he qualified for the 5,000m final in Melbourne, Australia in 1956, where he was also the team captain.
On February 15, Maiyoro appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to save his 15-acre land, given to him by Kenya’s first President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta at independence for his athletic exploits.
According to reports, two locals allegedly grabbed his land in 2012 but even after reporting the case to the police, he did not get it back.
Last week, the National Olympic Committee of Kenya and Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i offered to help Maiyoro’s family with medical bills.
Doctors at the hospital had scheduled major tests but later postponed the scans as the family could not raise the required Ksh80,000.
On February 18, Matiang’i contacted the family through an intermediary and pledged to pay his hospital bills.