Late for the Olympics: The Amazing Story of Kipchoge Keino

Late for the Olympics: The Amazing Story of Kipchoge Keino

Kipchoge Keino, aka Hezekiah Kipchoge Keino
or (thankfully in the interest of avoiding typos) just Kip, is a retired athlete who
ran for the country of Kenya. Throughout his career, Kip earned almost a
dozen medals, half of which were gold, for being an amazing middle to long distance runner. The story we want to share is the time Kip
was almost late for his own race and had to (literally) run to get there, then won a gold
medal anyway, despite another major adversity in that race, which we’ll get to in a minute. First, a little info on the man himself, because
he’s awesome. We’ll start with his name. Kipchoge is a Nandi expression for something
to the effect of “born near the grain storage shed.” If you guessed he came from humble beginnings,
you’d be right. Things didn’t get better when both of his
parents died when he was very young; he then moved in with his aunt who raised him. When once asked about his childhood and how
he got started running, this was Kip’s response: When I started at primary school. I ran in my bare feet four miles to school
in the morning, home for lunch, again for afternoon school and back at the end of the
day. I did this every day until I left school If your mind is still trying to work out the
maths for that one, Kip ran 16 miles every single day in Kenyan heat without shoes just
to get to school- Kip managed this starting as a 5 year old. You may think that with this impressive running
ability, Kip was destined to be a runner. After finishing school, though, he didn’t
immediately get into competitive running. Instead, Kip became a physical training instructor
for the Kenyan police force. At the time, Kenya was not the runner generating
powerhouse it is today. In fact, Kip was one of the first great runners
the country produced. It wasn’t until the early 1960s that Kip
realised that his thighs demanded a greater challenge and he took up competitive athletics
on the side from his day job. Though Kip was ultimately one of the finest
distance runners of his time- perhaps one of the finest of all time- he didn’t achieve
significant results until the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, where he narrowly missed qualifying for the
1500M final. A year later, in 1965, Kip broke two distance
running world records (the 1500M and 5000M events respectively) at the 1965 All-Africa
Games. A year after that impressive feat, during
the 1966 commonwealth games, Kip won a double gold in the mile and three mile sprint events. His greatest feat came two years later during
the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. We say “greatest feat” because for the
entire duration of the games, Kip was suffering from crippling gallstones. And we mean crippling- Kip literally collapsed
while running the 10,000M. This was especially cruel when you realise that Kip was in the
lead when the pain overwhelmed him and he had only three laps to go! By stepping off of the track after he collapsed,
he’d automatically disqualified himself. Determined to finish the race anyway, he stumbled
back onto the track and, despite the pain, managed to do the final laps, even though
it didn’t count. The eventual winner of that race was one,
Naftali Temu, another Kenyan who now holds the honor of being Kenya’s first gold medal
winner. An honor that almost went to Kip. Now this is where the story gets interesting. Prior to running the 10,000M, Kip had been
told by a doctor not to run and that any strain to his body was at risk of causing him serious
harm, and in the extreme case could even lead to his death. Of course, Kip ran anyway as noted. Two days after the 10,000M- the race he collapsed
in- Kip ran in the 5000M and won a silver medal, finishing just one fifth of a second
behind the gold medalist. On top of that, he then ran another 1500M
race and qualified for the final of the event. At this point, you may think Kip was tempting
fate, but we’re still not done. The day of 1500M final, Kip, presumably due
to the fact that HE HAD GALLSTONES, elected to sleep in and there was some thought that
he was simply choosing not to race that day when his absence was noticed, given the day
before he had indicated he might not given his medical problem. Nevertheless, only an hour before the actual
event, he hopped out of bed and headed off to the games. On the bus ride to the Olympic stadium, the
bus became stuck in traffic and this is where the story gets interesting. Realising the bus was going to be late, Kip
got off and ran the remaining 2 miles to the Olympic stadium while carrying his equipment. He then registered with 20 minutes to spare,
got himself ready, and walked out onto the track and won a gold medal, outpacing the
second place runner by an astounding 20 metres- the longest distance anyone had ever won by
in the event at that time. (And possibly even to this day as far as I
can find- though don’t quote me on that, as I didn’t go through every Olympics from
then to now. I just wasn’t able to find any record of
a greater lead from my research in the 1500M.) Not only this, the man he beat by such a huge
margin, Jim Ryun, had not been defeated in the 1,500M in three years. Further, Kip had now raced five times in that
Olympics, while Ryun was completely fresh. And, of course, that’s not to mention the
gallstones. In the end, Kip finished with a time of 3:34.9,
the second fastest in history at that point. To put that in slightly more common terms,
that’s a pace of 25.13 km/hr or 15.61 mph for 1500 metres! Seriously, go watch the race here and realise
that not only is Kip running with a constant stabbing pain in his abdomen, but that he
had just ran 2 miles to the stadium in sweltering Mexican heat. Then, feel angry when you scroll down and
see that the video’s description is “Jim Ryun wins the silver medal at the 1968 Olympics“-
surely Kip’s victory was a little more noteworthy, eh, YouTube poster? After this victory, Kip went on to win several
more medals before eventually settling down in Kenya, where he currently runs a charity
for orphans, as well as helped found a primary and a secondary school. For his many humanitarian works in his post-professional
career, he was inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.

96 Replies to “Late for the Olympics: The Amazing Story of Kipchoge Keino”

  1. Simon,
    There have been a few occasions that some of the material lacks the usual interest that we have all come to expect from your channel (very, very few occasions). But I must say that this bit was one of your finest pieces by far. I know quite a bit of Olympic trivia (even a bit of this one) but this episode shed even more light on some very interesting details.
    Thank you for what you and staff do there, education is the key.
    I love and support the channel and please keep up the great work that you do.

  2. not being a dick but its pronounced Keep- choh- Geh … you can do a feature on Iten the one region that has produced 95% of all Kenyan long distance runners virtually 1 in every 4 homestead has a gold or silver medalist be it the Olympics, major marathons; Berlin, Boston or IAAF .

  3. wtf is up with the subtle horror movie music in this video? I was expecting Michael Meyers to jump out at any moment!

  4. Your pronunciation is really off. Apart from that really good video. I'm native kenyan so I'm really happy you've made content that's this close to home

  5. Ran two miles to get there, with gall stones and still kicked your ass …

    While you were rested …
    That's a permanent have a seat indication to all competition.

  6. Something up with the link in your description Today I Found Out. Great video about a great athlete, thank you!

  7. I remember watching him in 1968, when I was still in elementary school. For some reason he really resonated with kids, at least in my school, possibly because of his famous "kick" when he changed his stride for the final part of the race. Later generations would want to play basketball "like Mike" (Jordan), but in '68 we wanted to "kick like Kip" as we ran.

  8. Norm Hitzges is putting together funding for a full length documentary on Kip Keno! He’s done multiple interviews with the guy and they’re wonderful. If you think his athletic accomplishments are great, his personal life is more amazing, using his fame to adopt more than 70 parent less children in his home nation. Take the time to learn about this man who’s a great role model for all!

  9. Hey "Today I found out" 25 links and not one the one that could do real good! Please like this to make it the #1 comment.   Here is the link to the:     "Kipkeino Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Kenya to advance humanitarian and charitable efforts of great Kenya athletic icon Dr. Kipchoge Keino."

  10. While my teenage step-daughters bitch and whiny that the school bus stinks in the morning and won’t go if no one drives them the 2 miles. Spoiled c**ts…. can’t even wash or separate or put away their own clothes.

  11. To some people,any pain they feel usually doesn't have much effect when they do the very thing they always do. In this case,Kip loves running and his mind is so focused to it the pain probably subsides for every step he makes.

  12. Simon, you mentioned the Commonwealth Games. Good time to do a story about that as they are starting in a few weeks down the road from me.

  13. Do Eric Heiden. A man virtually unknown to anyone under 30, but achieved something that is unlikely to ever be equaled in the Olympic games.

  14. as someone who had gallstones and collapse at one point i can tell you that it's no joke. personally i wouldn't be able to get up and run due to the pain.

  15. Bonus fact #1: Ryun was later elected to represent Kansas in the US House of Representatives in 1994. He was defeated for re-election in 2006.

    Bonus fact #2: In the men's 1500m race (the same event in which Keino defeated Ryun) at the most recent Olympics in 2016, the gold-medal winner was American Matthew Centrowitz(sp?) Jr., whose father had run the same event in 1976. Centrowitz was the first representative of the USA to win Olympic gold in the men's 1500m race since Michael Shepard in 1908, ending the longest US gold-medal drought of any continuously contested Olympic event in history.

  16. While learning about genetics my teacher was talking about the genetic disease sickle cell anemia. She said that scientists think that the reason it stuck around so long and the reason African Americans have a higher chance of getting it is that you have almost a zero percent chance of getting malaria if you have it. I thought that was really interesting. I don't know much about it, but i'd be really cool if you did a video on the origins of genetic diseases, like how hemophilia was a genetic disease that showed up in royalty some times because of inbreeding.

  17. Today's episode also brought to you by…

    POWER THIRST! Where you will be so energetic you too can run like a Kenyan!

  18. When we have Africa for the Africans, Asia for the Asians, but White countries for everyone, what is the result?
    The result, over time, is fewer and fewer White children. Is this some accident?
    Under international law, imposing conditions on a race leading to its destruction over time is genocide. Forcing us to share our living space with more and more non-Whites is doing just that.
    They say they are anti-racist, but what they are is anti-White.
    Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-White.

  19. What about the man that ran the marathon barefoot because he was a last minute replacement and the shoe company didn't have any in his size? Won good after running side by side with the top man, though he didn't realize it because the bib number was changed.

  20. Oh Simon, Today I found out how much you butchered that name. Not your fault though but still hilarious. Kenya Strong, the home of Champions.

  21. Mexico City is 2 km over sea level. We very seldom (as in I remember a grand total of 2 summers) get anything close to sweltering heat

  22. Just watched the race – Kip totally smoked it and it looked like he was working a lot less to go faster. He wasn't even winded after the race. Just wow!

  23. The funniest part the long distance races is at the finish part. The kenyans always look like they are ready for another round while the rest look like they are actually dying from exhaustion.

  24. Now that you know the story of Kipchoge Keino check out this video and find out The Truth About Gladiators and the Thumbs Up:

  25. Before you present a story, please learn how to pronounce your subject's name. Your pronunciation of Kipchoge is so ridiculous, wrong and annoying. You pronounce it "Kipcoach"! How do you even justify your pronunciation from the spelling of the name? Please take some time to learn how to pronounce the man's name. It is not that difficult.

  26. Awesome awesome video. I never knew he faced so much adversity at the 68 Olympics. All this time I thought his success was brought about by the tactics of the Kenyans. Now I know that Kip Keino is truly one of the greatest distance runners ever.

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