Henry Wanyoike

Henry Wanyoike

Henry Wanyoike was born in 1974 in Kikuyu, Kiambu county. While still a child he was already being groomed to join an elite corps of athletes. He excelled at the 5,000 and 10,000-meter distances.

Wanyoike became almost completely blind after suffering a stroke on May 1, 1995. “I went to bed a normal person, the following day I found myself in darkness,” he said. That night he lost 95% of his vision, and lost the rest gradually over the next few years. 

His mother Grace brought him to the Kikuyu Eye Clinic, recognised as one of the best centers for the visually impaired in East Africa. Petra Verweyen, the chief of the Low Vision Project of the clinic, helped him to find his way back into life and arranged for him to learn to knit pullovers. 

 After winning his first gold medal in Sydney, Australia in 2000 at the Paralympic games, he  returned the gratitude by purchasing knitting machines through prize money and charitable donations. He now employs other blind Kenyans and teaches them how to knit pullovers.

As a blind runner he was tied to a guide by a tether on the wrist. Once Henry got used to working with guides, he quickly established himself as a world-class non-sighted runner. Now Wanyoike runs with his track guide and childhood friend, Joseph Kibunja.Unlike most Kenyan athletes, who tend to concentrate on one or two events, Henry is among those very few who have ventured beyond. Over the last five years, he has won gold or silver medals in the marathon, half-marathon, 10 km road race, the 10,000 meters, 5,000 meters and the 1,500 meters. No other Kenyan athlete has ventured so widely and so successfully. His time of 2:31:31 at the Hamburg Marathon in 2005 still stands as the world record for non-sighted runner.

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