At 19, Kenya’s Sammy Kirop Kitwara was clueless about sports, let alone running. It was coincidence that he went to Eldoret, the mecca of running in Kenya, to earn a living.
“I was facing hard times,” said Kitwara, “So my parents sent me to a relative in Eldoret who had promised me a job."It’s tough life in Kenya. So I didn’t mind doing odd jobs to earn my daily bread," the 26-year-old told HT.
The Kenyan, who is at the Capital to compete in this weekend’s Delhi Half Marathon, only considered competitive running when he learnt that top runners made money by winning races. It was not lucrative initially but his win at a district cross-country race in 2008 was good start.
Encouraged by small gains — getting pairs of shoes for winning district level competitions for instance — Kitwara, who was brought up in a small rift valley town called Marakwet, started training and he soon finished seventh in the national cross-country race in 2009.
Although he failed to break into the national team for the World cross-country championship, his performance caught the attention of Dutch athletes-manager Frans Denissen who helped him become hot property on the European road race circuit.
Now married with one-and-half year old son, Kitwara is fancied to win Sunday’s race. “The weather is bit hot, but it shouldn’t stop me from winning,” he said about his chances.