Monday, October 18, 2010

Kipsiro’s village coach speaks out

Kipsiro  Uganda's  Only Two  Gold Medalist  winner at the just concluded Common Wealth games
Kipsiro receives a walking stick from his father as sports minister Charles Bakabulindi (centre) looks on
Kipsiro receives a walking stick from his father as sports minister Charles Bakabulindi (centre) looks on
By Frederick Womakuyu

ON the day Moses Kipsiro won his first gold medal in the 1,500 metres race, Leonard Erimiya run over 15 kilometres from Chesimat village on the slopes of Mt. Elgon to watch the athletic giant at a video hall in Bukwo town.

Although he got there when the race had ended, he was delighted that his tribesman had won. “I was disappointed because I wanted to see him in action, but was happy that he had won. I celebrated with my family,” said Erimiya.

Erimiya’s celebrations and disappointments did not end there.

On the day Kipsiro won another gold medal in the 10,000 metres race, Erimiya made sure he was at the video hall before the event started.

He was, however, disappointed when all the television sets in Bukwo district lost their signals. “The whole district was disappointed, but was later relieved when a colleague called from Kenya, saying Kipsiro had won.”

Kipsiro won the medals at the Commonwealth games in New Delhi, India.

Who is Erimiya?
To anybody, Erimiya may appear like an ordinary villager, but he is the reason Kipsiro is a hero, champion and the pride of Uganda.

Erimiya was the first to notice Kipsiro’s talent in athletics. He groomed and nurtured him.

His journey with Kipsiro
In 1999 when Erimiya joined Chesimat Primary School, one of the remotest schools in Bukwo, Kipsiro was a primary six pupil.

The school was cut off from the rest of Bukwo due to an impassable road and a bad terrain. The community did not know much about the value of education and sports.

Erimiya was made the sports master of the school because of his love for sports. He also had a rich background in athletics particularly in the 10,000 metres race.

Erimiya initiated sports weekends and sports days at the school. That is how he identified Kipsiro.

“He ran with interest and purpose. I encouraged him to train under my supervision,” Erimiya explained.

Later that year (1999), Kipsiro participated in the zonal athletics championship at Mokoyon Primary School in Bukwo. He did not win, but was among those who completed the 1,500 metres and later 10,000 metres race.

“When we went back home, he cried because he did not win. I told him to train harder. I also learnt that he performed better at 5,000 and 10,000 metre races,” Erimiya added.

While at home and at school, Erimiya made sure Kipsiro trained three times a day. “He used to wake up as early as 4:00am to train,” he explained.

Erimiya described Kipsiro as a quiet person. Apart from Erimiya, Kipsiro also trained with his friends, Wycliffe Muzee and Alex Bukose.

“We would wake up at 3:00am and run into the forest, up and down the mountains. Kipsiro was always first,” said Muzee. The two gave up athletics

Kipsiro wins his first race
This persistence paid off when Kipsiro won the zonal athletics competition at Mokoyon Primary School in 2000, beating many older boys.

He was selected to represent Kapchorwa district at the national level. That year, he was the 8th in the 10,000 metres race.

He then sat for the primary leaving examinations and scored 16 aggregate, passing in division two.

Determined to get a first grade, he decided to repeat primary seven at Kortuk Primary School. On his second attempt, Kipsiro scored aggregate 14.

However, he could not continue his studies because his parents could not raise the school fees.

“When he left school, he joined the church. He was a born-again Christian, having grown up in a home of an uncle who was a pastor.”

“I joined the same church and advised him to continue with athletics. He resumed training,” said Erimiya

Erimiya said he advised Kipsiro to join an athletes camp, which was set up in Bukwo in 2001 by Standard High School Zana.

“It is at this time that I lost touch with him because he was in and out of the district and the country. He occasionally visits me and the school,” he said.

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