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Der lange Lauf ins Licht

The long run in the light


Henry Wanyoike buys knitting machines for disabled people with his prize money

Left, 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.

Cut. 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 group.

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."

Fade 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...

Cut. "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 isnīt running."

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.

So 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.

Another 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.

Bengt Pflughaupt

Henry 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 received."  









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