Naftali Temu – Kenya’s First Golden Olympian

Naftali Temu – Kenya’s First Golden Olympian

The runner Naftali Nabiba Temu who competed along with his older legendary good friend, idol, nemesis and fellow countryman Hezekiah Kipchoge Keino, is most importantly famend for being the primary ever Kenyan Olympic gold medalist. Through the 1968 Olympic Video games that had been held in Mexico Metropolis, Naftali Temu not solely received this gold medal within the 10000 meter run, however was cemented in historical past because the very first athlete to be topped with a gold medal at these Olympics. Again dwelling from Mexico, the Kenya athletes had been sporting sombreros as they walked from the aircraft at Nairobi Worldwide Airport. A beaming Keino walked with the slender Temu sitting comfortably on his shoulders.

At 5’9″ and fewer than 140 kilos, Naftali Temu was noticeably lean and diminutive. He strode simply and relaxedly. Of the east African Kisii (Gusii) ethnic group, Temu was born within the northern Kisii District of Nyamira in Nyanza Province in southwestern Kenya on April 20, 1945. Temu didn’t begin working competitively till he was in his early teenagers. However Temu lived in hilly terrain the place he herded cattle and sometimes ran lengthy distances as a part of fulfilling home duties and going to highschool. With an elementary faculty schooling, Temu left faculty and have become a soldier within the Kenya Military.

A milestone in promising Temu’s athletics’ profession got here within the East African Championships (initially contested by Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania). The Championships had been held in Kisumu in Kenya in 1964. Temu’s gold medal win was within the 10000m, in 28:35.7. Throughout August 1964, 19 year-old Temu, additionally in Kisumu, received within the six miles in 28:30.4. This confirmed him as second on the world-junior rating, and likewise inclusion within the Kenya Olympics’ workforce that might be certain for Tokyo in two months.

It was in 1964 (October 10 – 24) that, for the primary time in historical past, an Asian nation Japan hosted the Olympics. These Video games held in Tokyo had been Temu’s first vital alternative at a world competitors. Temu would go on to even characterize Kenya on the subsequent two Olympic gatherings together with compatriot Kip Keino. In Tokyo ’64, Temu was solely 19, promising however younger and inexperienced. He was entered for the ten,000 meters and the marathon. Within the 10,000 meters’ finals, just one runner–Gerry Lindgren (aged 18) of the United States–was youthful than Temu. Future world-record holder Lindgren would end ninth, slowed down by a sprained ankle. Many contemplate Lindgren the best of American highschool long-distance runners. Temu was sadly one of many 9 out of 38 opponents that didn’t end the race, on October 14. Nonetheless this ultimate proved to be probably the most thrilling within the historical past of the space. In a photo-finish, the shock winner was Billy Mills (future world-record holder) of the USA who edged out legendary Mohammed Gammoudi of Tunisia and gold medal hope Ron Clarke of Australia. Famend Ethiopian runner Mamo Wolde, with out sneakers on, completed fourth.

Within the marathon, Temu completed forty ninth in 2-40: 46.6. The marathon was received by legendary Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia in 2-12: 11.2, greater than 4 minutes forward of the runner-up Basil Heatley of Nice Britain. Mamo Wolde, hampered by a leg harm didn’t end; however his youthful brother Demissie Wolde was tenth, whereas Ron Clarke was ninth and almost a minute forward of Wolde.

A sigh of encouragement would come to Temu, within the following yr of 1965, when he grew to become the Kenya nationwide champion on the 6 miles by successful in June in Mombasa

The inaugural All-Africa Video games had been held in Brazzaville in Congo from July 18-25 in 1965. Temu received the silver medal within the 5000m, overwhelmed by fellow countryman Kip Keino. In these Video games, United Arab Republic (the then union between Egypt and Syria) was the general win, adopted by Nigeria, then Kenya coming in third. The Video games had been thought-about profitable, and highlighted by the rising African athletes on the worldwide scene.

At 1966 British Commonwealth Video games held (August 4 – 11) in Kingston in Jamaica, Temu notably received gold within the 6 mile distance (which at is almost 400 meters lower than 10,000 meters), clearly beating runner-up and 10000m world file holder Ron Clarke. Temu’s time was 27:14.6, whereas Clarke’s was 27:39. The development of the race had seen Temu and Clarke break free rapidly from the remainder of the sphere within the first phases of the race. On the midway mark, the 2 had been working at world record-breaking tempo. However Clarke’s persistence did not discourage the younger Temu. And with 4 laps left, Temu impressively broke away from Clarke and established an enormous hole

Within the 6 miles, Jim Adler of Scotland was third, ending in additional than a minute behind Temu. Nonetheless, Adler one the marathon in Kingston, and went on to win the silver in the identical occasion in these Video games held in Edinburgh in Scotland in 1970. In Kingston, Ron Clarke received one other silver medal, this time coming in second to Kipchoge Keino within the 5000m. Clarke additionally notably received a silver within the 10000m within the Commonwealth Video games held in Edinburgh in 1970. As for Temu, his time within the 6 mile-run was a powerful Commonwealth Video games file (over a minute shaved off the file) and it nonetheless stands following the prevalent metric standardization of the races. Temu’s 27:14.6 was additionally the fourth finest time ever, on the earth. Additionally, notably, earlier than the beginning of the 6-mile ultimate in Kingston, Ron Clarke’s world file on this occasion was twenty seconds quicker than anybody else had ever run and it was greater than a minute quicker than Temu’s finest on the distance.

Simply two days after the 6 mile win, Temu impressively completed fourth within the 3 miles run (4827 meters) behind Keino, Clarke, and Allan Rushmer (England) respectively

Within the 1967 East African Championships, held in Kisumu in Kenya, Naftali Temu received gold within the 10000m in 28:53.6. This was for Temu a serious tune-up for the Olympic Video games that might be held within the difficult high-altitude and thin-air ambiance of Mexico Metropolis, from October 12 to 27 within the following yr. However Kenyan runners had been anticipated to carry out comparatively effectively in Mexico Metropolis, given that almost all of them lived in excessive altitude environments of western Kenya that simulate the circumstances of Mexico Metropolis. Simply months earlier than the Olympics in Mexico Metropolis, Temu once more received within the 10000m in 28:20 which grew to become his finest time (and supreme historic private finest) within the occasion at these regional Video games. They had been held in Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania in 1968.

In Mexico Metropolis, in 1968, Temu had improved and triumphed considerably over the previous few years and was therefore considered a medal hope. Along with the 10000m during which he had collected most victories, Temu was additionally scheduled to characterize Kenya within the 5000m and within the marathon. As for the 10000m then environmental circumstances in Mexico Metropolis proved to be grueling, and the tempo of the finals was noticeably sluggish. However with its pack of competing legends and promising runners, it proved to be probably the most memorable within the historical past of the historical past of long-distance working. Competitor Ron Clarke had astoundingly shattered the 10000m world file in Oslo in a time of 27: 39.4, the earlier file 36.2 seconds slower and Clarke the primary man to ever run the space in lower than 28 minutes! However sure, Temu had overwhelmed Clarke on the British Commonwealth Video games held in 1966. The altitude of Mexico Metropolis would seemingly be a detrimental issue for Clarke who was born and educated at sea-level.

The 10000m tempo was noticeably sluggish from the start! It was host nation’s Juan Martinez who captured the lead within the nineteenth lap, inevitably drawing applause in what was the primary competitors of the Video games. With two laps remaining, 4 fellows acquainted with one another grew to become the main pack: Temu, Clarke, Mamo Wolde, and Mohammed Gammoudi. However within the lap previous the ultimate one, Mamo Wolde aged 36 (by far the oldest within the pack) raced away with solely Temu fiercingly clinging just a few strides behind. Temu was in a position to break free in a ultimate stride, overtaking Wolde at 50 meters earlier than the end. Kipchoge Keino, who had collapsed from illness and exhaustion throughout the identical race and was unable to proceed, was standing within the tracks and about to embrace and congratulate Kenya’s first Olympic gold medalist! Clarke’s final two laps had been grueling and he collapsed and almost died on the ending line the place he completed sixth. Clarke’s coronary heart was completely broken, and an Australian physician who attended to him on the ending line was even sobbing as he was emotionally overcome by the medically difficult situation of Ron Clarke. Nonetheless, Clarke later commendably went on to be positioned fifth within the finals of the 5000m. As for the 10000 meters, the ultimate tally was Temu (29: 27.40), Wolde (29:27.75), Mohammed Gammoudi (29:34.2), 21 year-old Juan Martinez (29:35.0), Nikolay Sviridov of the Soviet Union (29:43.2), and Ron Clarke (29:44.8). Six finalists, together with Keino, didn’t end!

A few days later noticed Naftali contest within the semi-final heats of the 5000m race. He was within the second warmth, and he managed to emerge first, adopted by rival Ron Clarke. The primary 5 in every of the three heats had been positioned within the finals. The primary warmth had witnessed Keino beat second-placed Mohammed Gammoudi, adopted by Mamo Wolde. 4 days after the historic 10000m win, Temu was due to this fact positioned within the finals off the 5000m run. Temu, together with Kip Keino and Mohammed Gammoudi staged an thrilling shut and last-lap dash. Gammoudi emerged triumphant in 14:05.01, in a photo-finish with Keino (14:05.16), and bronze medalist Temu shut by in 14:06.4. Juan Martinez of Mexico was fourth in 14:10.8. and Ron Clarke was fifth in 14:12.4.

Solely three days later, on October 20, solely every week after he had received within the 10000m, Temu was confronted with the marathon! It was held on the ultimate day of observe and area competitors, starting at 3pm on a heat (73 levels F.). As regular, Mexico Metropolis mendacity at an altitude of 7350 toes would show difficult for the long-distance runners, on condition that oxygen density within the air decreases with extra elevation. Identical to within the different long-distance races, this tempo was fairly sluggish and the primary phases of the race noticed lots of the opponents bunched collectively. Temu did take the lead after three-quarters of the best way. However exhaustion from competing and successful medals in two earlier lengthy distance runs, should have taken a toll on Temu. Finally, Temu slowed all the way down to a pedestrian tempo and ended up being nineteenth in a time of two:32:36.0. The winner by a large margin was 36 year-old Ethiopian nemesis Mamo Wolde (2-20:26.4), adopted by Kenji Kimihara of Japan (2-23:31.0), and the bronze medalist was Mike Ryan of New Zealand in 2-23:45.0. Of notice is that legendary Ethiopian gold medalist within the earlier two Olympics, 36 year-old Abebe Bikila, dropped out of the race after foot accidents took a toll on him. Almost 20 runners didn’t end the race.

The Olympics of 1968 would show to be Temu’s climactic second in his working profession. In 1969, on the East and Central African Championships during which Zambia was included alongside Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, Temu efficiently defended his 10000m title in successful in a time of 28:54.8. This regional meet was held in Kampala, Uganda.

Throughout 1970, the damage and tear on Temu’s skinny physique was evident. His slight construct, regardless of his achievements, was susceptible. He struggled with issues along with his toes. Within the British Commonwealth Video games that had been held in Edinburgh in Scotland, Temu emerged a disappointing nineteenth within the 10000m. Right here, veteran nemesis Ron Clarke received the silver medal in 28:13, barely behind Lachie Stewart of Scotland (28:12), and forward of bronze medalist Dick Taylor (28:15) of England. Nonetheless, decided Temu nonetheless posted each his private bests within the 5000m (13.36.6) and 10000m (28.21.8) in 1971.

Temu was set to defend his 10000m olympic win within the Video games held in Munich in Germany in 1972. On August 31, Temu disenchanted the athletics’ world by ending twelfth in warmth one in a pedestrian time of 30:19.6. Simply the primary 5 in every of the three heats would transfer on to the finals. The eventual gold medalist was Lasse Viren of Finland in a brand new world file of 27:38.35, adopted by legendary 24-year previous Emiel Adrien “Miel” Puttemans of Belgium (27:39.58), and legendary Ethiopian Miruts Yifter in 27:40.96). This time, a historic run had left fading Temu out of the image! Mohammed Gammoudi of Tunisia was the one finalist that dropped out of the race and due to this fact didn’t end.

At solely age 28, Naftali Temu retired from aggressive working in 1973. He was allotted farmland (in North Mugirango) in his homeland of Nyamira District, a token of appreciation of his nationwide and worldwide sports activities achievements, by Kenya President Jomo Kenyatta.

Early in January 2003, Temu was transferred from a hospital in his Kisii city in his native western Kenya area to the extra geared up and trendy Kenyatta Nationwide Hospital within the capital Nairobi. However his prostate most cancers and kidney issues had significantly superior, Temu couldn’t discuss or stroll. On March 10, solely a month a approach from his 58th birthday, Naftali Temu died. Many Kenyans really feel that the federal government’s neglecting of this nationwide hero led to or hastened his loss of life. His situation had been recognized months, earlier, however Temu didn’t afford the prices of treating or assuaging his situation, that had been a whole lot of {dollars}. Nonetheless, the prices of Temu’s medical remedy at Kenyatta Hospital had been waived. Quickly after his loss of life the Naftali Temu Memorial Race was established in honor of Naftali Temu.

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