A heartfelt cry for help by legendary Kenyan athlete Henry Rono, on Wednesday, has prompted a reaction from the track and field legend Kipchoge Keino.
Through an appeal letter, Rono had pointed out his health as well as financial issues adding that he had a burning desire to spend the twilight years of his life back in the motherland.
The heartfelt request triggered an outpouring of reactions from sympathizers willing to step in and grant the veteran his wish.
Kipchoge Keino, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is the latest in the list of well-wishers who have offered to bring Rono home.
According to reports, Keino explained how he played a role in securing Rono a track scholarship at Washington State University back in 1976.
“I’m ready to buy Rono his ticket. It is me who got him into competition in the US and I will make sure he comes back home, we need him to come home and see his family,” a rueful Keino stated.
At the peak of their athletic careers, Rono and Keino were simply ahead of the pack with their dominant style of running.
However, while Keino crowned his stellar career with two Olympic goal medals – in the 1500m finals in Mexico (1968) and the steeplechase finals in Munich (1972), Rono’s path took a downward trajectory.
Kenya’s boycott of the 1976 and 1980 Olympic games due to conflicting political ideologies meant that Rono would not be able to showcase his immense talent on the world’s biggest stage, while at his prime.
This took a negative toll on him consequently leading to an irrepressible alcoholism.
He has since been working as an airport security guard in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he has lived for 32 years.
Rich Dafter, his close American friend and supporter, was quick to set up a fund-raising drive aimed at catering for Rono’s upkeep.
“He has been sick with the flu and can’t work. I saw him yesterday and he is the same Henry that I have always known. He has a Nandi warrior’s heart and his mind wants to be able to direct his body to do what it does best,” Dafter stated.
Jack Tuwei, Athletics Kenya President, revealed that he had received numerous offers to support Rono.
“Many other athletes are ready to help him because once he gets back home, he will also need financial support to settle down,” he added.
Rono’s estranged wife and son declined to comment on the matter.
The Veteran acknowledged that there had been a fall out with the family, and that he had been undergoing counseling to aid in remedying the dispute.