Former Steeplechase Olympic Silver medalist Benjamin Kogo is not a happy man asserting that as other citizens join in Mashujaa celebrations, he has nothing to smile about.
The 75-year-old retired athlete was among the first athletes to represent Kenya in Tokyo-Japan and Kingston-Jamaica in the 3000m races that brought glory to the country.
“I was picked from primary school back in 1964 and competed in several races, I won some and lost others,” recalls Kogo.
Born and raised in Kapsumbeiywo village, Kilibwoni ward in Emgwen Constituency, the father of 10 in an interview with KNA said he participated in the steeplechase races when the field event was not yet famous.
“I was the first Kenyan to compete in the race in 1965 and emerged fifth in Tokyo. Later in the year I took first position in Congo Brazaville winning gold,” he revealed.
Kogo says in the following year (1966) he was in the track event in Commonwealth Games in Kingston Jamaica and emerged third, winning bronze and two years later he won Silver medal in Olympic Games in Mexico.
“Even so, I never received any monetary award, I was given food and air ticket for the countries where the competitions were taking place”, explains Kogo displaying his now tattered passport.
For the seven medals he received, Kogo says that after the competition, they were invited to the Statehouse, paraded, ate and given fare back home and promised to be communicated to.
His interest in athletics was championed by his primary schooling where he used to run six miles every day to and from school.
His racing dream was cut short in 1972 when he developed a leg injury while preparing for the Olympics in Munich.
“I got into early retirement and ventured into small scale tea farming which has been my life line for over four decades now,” says Kogo.
Some of the racers of his time include Wilson Kiprugut, Phillip Ndolo and Amos Biwott (1968 maiden Gold medalist) who took after him. Legendary Kipchoge Keino also grabbed Gold at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
The other steeplechaser is Ezekiel Kemboi (retired), who won four straight gold medals between 2009-2015.
Conseslus Kipruto is the most recent and has won gold medals at the 2016 summer Olympics, and at 2017 and 2019 world championships.
Kogo though a beneficiary of the Sh.2,000 Older persons’ stipend would like the government to support him more bearing in mind the fame he brought for Kenya placing the country in the international scenes.
“I have received certificates of recognition from the Kenya Amateur Athletic Association and the National Olympic Committee of Kenya, but I would be much happier if the government rewards our contributions handsomely,” said Kogo.
By Bethsheba Abuya