We ran for the country and flag- Benjamin Kogo

Kenya’s veteran runner Benjamin Kogo is a surprised man in this era where there is a lot of money in athletics compared to his heydays when they competed for the flag and the national anthem.

The 1965 All Africa Games 3,000m steeplechase champion said he competed in the race, which was a new race in his career but managed to win the title and the fun and good side it is when the national anthem was sung after winning.

He said the Congo Brazzaville event opened doors for him after the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“We only competed for our country and the flag unlike these days where there is too much money in the sport. It was fun when we could board a plane just for that pride at the world games. Money came recently and youths of today have money since money started flowing in in 1974. They are lucky and others get scholarships. We used to run for Kenya but since that time,” said Kogo in his home in Kapchemoywo in Nandi County.

After his win at the Brazzaville Games, he was picked by then Kenya Amateur Athletics Association (KAAA) now Athletics Kenya to compete at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston Jamaica winning bronze 3,000m steeplechase.

“My first time to board a plane, I was so happy as a junior runner but some older ones used to fear boarding a plane but later it was pleasure for us,” said Kogo.

He won silver at the 1967 World Championships held in Helsinki before running with the best time in the race before heading to the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games winning silver in 3,000m steeplechase behind Amos Biwott.

“In 1970 I picked an injury and at the 1972 Olympic Games, I tried to run in Munich but the injury kept me off and forced me to early retirement in my athletics career,” said Kogo.

“At that point, youth had come into force and I had to leave the space for them to shine. Youths like Amos Biwott, I told him to take over and retired in 1972. We are the god-fathers on steeplechase in the country and Kenyans have taken over since then they have been winning across the world,” said Kogo.

He says he started running while his parents were not aware of what he was doing in school hence running well.

“School teachers played a role in our career. At the same time, we were still under colonial control, hence giving us transport back home since there was no cash money. In 1968, I ran alongside Kipchoge Keino, Naftali Temo, Wilson Kipkurgut, Ben Kogo, Ben Jipcho. After returning, president Jomo Kenyatta invited us to his Gatundu home, we ate well. And if you were a civil servant, you were given three days to recover before resuming duties and there was no money,” remembered Kogo.

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