Der lange Lauf ins Licht
The long run in the light
Henry Wanyoike buys knitting machines for disabled people with his prize money
right, left, right - sometimes slower, sometimes faster... The nearly
blind super-sportsman and helper of developing countries Henry Wanyioke
has had a life full of ups, downs and changes.
Somewhere in Africa. The glowing sun slowly begins to rise, some lions
roar afar. An old man, standing on the outskirts of Kikuyu (Kenia) like
every morning, watches the ?Wanyioke Express" speed past - followed by
a cloud of dust. Left, right, left, right goes the fast pattern
of steps. Henry is on the move, like every morning. After having won
the gold medal at the Paralympics, winning the 5000 metre race in
Boston and the world championship race in Japan, Henry is training for
Vienna - for his anniversary-race. Left, right, left, right - thatīs
how he want to run over the Danubeīs bridges, always in the leading
With an unbelievable personal best time of
2:38:00, this sportsman impresses everyone. And also Wolfgang Konrad,
manager of the Vienna-City-Marathon, says: "His performance is from
another world. Iīm glad that Henry Wanyioke is travelling all the way
to Vienna for "LICHT FÜR DIE WELT" and am proud to help him and others
fighting blindness in the poor regions of our earth."
over to Kikuyu. The morning sun hints how she will shine around midday.
Left, right, left, right - Henry isnīt affected by the 30 km training.
He beams, is soo confident: ?Iīm so fit, Iīll improve my best time in
Vienna, so I can pass the finish line as one of the first", he says,
without even panting. Shortly before he arrives at his motherīs farm,
where two dogs await his arrival, long having given up trying to beat
his pace, Henry pops into a little shop. A bit of food, a small can and
a newspaper ("This is for me", says the nearly blind man) and off he
goes again - trying not to spill anything from the can. But whatīs in
there? ?Oh, thatīs lubricating oil ", replies the running-man and grins
to himself. No, of course itīs not for his bones, but itīs very
important in his life. Then he stops talking about best times and
starts talking about repetitive patterns in his life...
"Yes, these are my babies", he says, meaning people, machines and
material alike. His pupils, his sewing machines and the knitted
clothes. Henry is not only an Olympics-winner, heīs also a pullover
manifacturer. Made by Wanyioke - and that makes extraordinary Henry
Wanyioke extra-special Henry Wanyioke, and also a hero amongst the
blind, disabled and everyone else in the country: "Henry is development
aid personified", says Rupert Roniger, Manager of LICHT FÜR DIE WELT.
"Henry went blind in May of 1995 and received help from one of our
programmes. He was so overwhelmed by our help that he promised himself
heīd help other blind people. So he bought knitting machines from his
prize money, employed blind Kenyians and now teaches them, when he
He runs very successfully. In the
arenas of this world Henry Wanyioke is known as a hero. Especially to
the legendary running-man Tom Henderson and Hollywood-hero Arnold
Schwarzenegger, who were present when the following happened...In
Sydneyīs Olympic stadium the audience hushed, as if it were paralyzed.
The man, who was leading the 5000 metre race, started slowing down. His
guide couldnīt keep up with the "blind-manīs" pace.
the two of them switched roles. Tom Henderson describes: "Iīve never
seen anything like it. The disabled sportsmanīs guide canīt keep up any
more during a race, and Henry Wanyioke pulls, hauls, pushes him to the
finish line - and the finishing time was only three seconds over the
world record!" The audience celebrated Henry. Arnie Schwarzenegger
spoke about the new hero and, of course, as a great sponsor and
supporter of the Paralympics was mighty proud of the Kenyan.
story that made Henry a legend is the following, similar story (so the
people in Vienna should be prepared): Marathon in Japan. Henryīs guide
ripped a sehne , a spectator takes over his role. Of course, he
couldnīt keep up. Henry gets passed on and reaches the finishing line,
winning by a hair. Henry at the marathon in Vienna, he says:
?Hasta la vista, baby!" to most of the participants.
Wanyoike is giving back what he received. He was born on May 10th, 1974
in Kikuyu, then he visited he went to first and secondary school. His
mother was a teacher, later a farmer. In the mid 80s, Henry began to
run. 1994 he learned to be a cobbler, in May 1995 he goes nearly
completely blind (5 percent sight is left). Petra Verweyen taught Henry
in a project of the Christoffel Mission for the Blind, and says: ?He
was so helpless and sad when he came. He can hardly see, recognises
something that is a metre away from him with difficulty - something
that we would see from 60 metres away. We taught him basics of sewing,
showed him how to deal with a newspaper, with which utensils one can
read the headings. But after about two years later Henry has lost also
the rest of his sight. Since 1997 he can only see very light and dark.
By now Henry is a world famous runner and is giving back, what he